65-year-old car design finally brought to life

Teaser for 1953 Linea Diamante by Gio Ponti debuting at 2018 Grand Basel

A never-before-seen car design is ready for the limelight…65 years after it was completed.

Yes, it was 65 years ago that Italian industrial designer Gio Ponti penned his Linea Diamante, or “Diamond Line,” and now a completed mockup of the car is set to be revealed. The covers will come off at the first-ever Grand Basel show, which takes place next month in Basel, Switzerland.

Ponti first conceptualized the Diamond Line in 1953, which was a reaction to swollen automobiles with tiny windows and dark interiors. His design, instead, started as a teardrop shape but quickly morphed into the angular diamond-line shape. His vision was for an architectural car with a massive glass area to allow natural light into the cabin. Clever packaging would also make for a large trunk without sacrificing interior space.

The designer originally wanted to design the Diamond Line atop an Alfa Romeo 1900 sedan, but ultimately turned to Fiat to produce a subcompact car based on the design. Alas, his design was rebuffed by Fiat and the industry, which deemed it too radical. It wouldn’t be until 20 years later that elements of Ponti’s work found their way to production cars. Meanwhile, the Diamond Line never moved past a 1:10 scale model.

Teaser for 1953 Linea Diamante by Gio Ponti debuting at 2018 Grand Basel

At the inaugural Grand Basel show, The Automobile by Ponti Project will unveil the car envisioned 65 years ago. At the project’s helm is Roberto Giolito, Head of FCA Heritage, who led the full-size design mockup via specifications outlined in Ponti’s original drawings.

Although Ponti’s car design never quite saw the light of day, he went on to design numerous icons, such as the Pirelli Tower in Milan—a 32-story skyscraper. In a nod to Ponti’s work, Pirelli will supply the Diamond Line’s tires.

Grand Basel will open on September 6 with a focus on presenting cars in the context of art and architecture. The Diamond Line will be in good company among a host of other past, present, and concept cars.

The project reminds us of another old design brought to life. A couple of years ago a team in the United States built an airplane designed by Bugatti founder Ettore Bugatti all the way back in 1938. Tragically, the project’s leader Scotty Wilson was killed during a test flight in 2016.

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