A Legacy of Italian Innovation Continues
Without a doubt, Bertone's most distinctive designs were the concept cars that Bertone dubbed "his children" especially the ones that generated the most controversy. These cars were classified as pure "dream machines" and not intended for practical use. Several of these concepts became the bodies of cars for Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Jaguar, however most car enthusiasts would agree that Bertone's best work came during the 1960's. Of the designs during this time period, the 1967 Lamborghini Marzal, a four-seater with overwhelming gull wing doors, is probably the one that is considered the most innovative which was used as the prototype for the Espada series production car.
In addition to steering the company and creating some of the most remarkable concept cars during the heyday of the company, Bertone is noted for his uncanny ability to recognize outstanding talent; some of the most famous designers including Gandini and Scaglione were apprentices for the house of Bertone. The brilliant designs used for the Lancia Stratos and the Alfa Romeo Giuliella Sprint along with many others for Volvo and Fiat are a testament to the broad appeal of Bertone's vision.
But following the death of Nuccio Bertone in 1997 things began to change and Stile Bertone was founded to pursue new design frontiers. As of 2008 when Stile Bertone became an independent company, the focal point has been not only to carry on the tradition but to reinvent the perspective of automotive design. In 2008 Stile Bertone approached the American born designer Jason Castriota to produce the car of his dreams resulting in the Bertone Mantide which is based on the Corvette ZR1.
Castriota is known for his work at the Italian design house Pininfarina where he produced the P 4/5 and his design of the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and Maserati Birdcage 75th concept car. The Bertone Mantide touts a radical skin over the supercar features developed from the expertise of the C5R Le Mans racing program. The ZR1 is hailed as not only the best Corvette ever built, with its 639 HP, aluminum chassis and carbon fiber body panels, in most automotive circles it is regarded as one of the best sports cars ever made.
Stile Bertone focused on improving the aerodynamics and reducing the car weight for undoubtedly the mechanics of the ZR1 with the fastest production car lap time of 7.0 minutes, 26.4 seconds was almost impossible to improve.
The basic design of the Stile Bertone Mantide is comparable to a jet fighter-like fuselage that has been suspended within a giant wing. True to the tradition of the house of Bertone, the Mantide has sparked its share of controversy. For some the look of the design resembles a crumpled piece of paper on four wheels; for others it is a work of pure genius, designed from the results of aggressive wind tunnel testing. Whether you love it or hate it, the design is unforgettable. The impact of the design sent ripples through the automotive world that the Bertone name was still able to stimulate the controversy that appeared to amuse Nuccio Bertone and more than likely the Mantide would have pleased his appetite for making what seems impossible a reality. All of the media press to date has heralded the Bertone Mantide as a precursor of things to come.
Stile Bertone utilized several innovations to achieve the stunning impact of the Mantide. To reduce the weight of the car, a full carbon fiber body was used, shaving a full 220 pounds off of the ZR1 that serves as its foundation. To increase the aero efficiency of the design, the giant wing was replaced by Ferrari 599 inspired flying buttresses along with a flat floor and rear diffuser reminiscent of the prototype race cars of Le Mans. This reduced the overall drag by 25% while increasing the down force by 30%. The result of these refinements is a care that accelerates from zero to sixty in just 3.2 seconds with the ability to reach a top speed of 217 mph. Built with a FIA regulation roll cage, four point harnesses and carbon fiber racing seats the driver and passengers are ensured a safe ride even at the highest speeds.