The Elegant Wings of Italian Car Design
If you are an aficionado of Italian cars, more than likely you have seen the “Superleggera” (meaning “super light weight” in Italian) badge under the marque of many fine vehicles. The credit for this distinguishing label goes to the Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera coach building company.
More than a logo, in actuality, it is a trademark. The company acquired a patent for the “Superleggera” construction system that consists of a structure, which is made up of thin steel tubes that forms the body’s shape. For additional strength hand-hammered alloy panels are used to cover the framework.
The company itself possesses a history and tradition that extends more than 80 years in the past to 1926 when an Alfa Romero and an Isotta Fraschini became the first custom built bodies created by Touring. The dedication of the company to high standards and traditional methods over the years earned the Touring brand a reputation for quality, elegant craftsmanship and technical innovation.
2500 Alfa Romeo 6C 1947 Touring Superleggera 3 Trophy Milan.
With the “Superleggera” patent, Touring was afforded the opportunity to craft limited series models as well as unique masterpieces. In addition, this is the company responsible for the outstanding Lancia Flaminia Coupé, the exciting Alfa Romeo 1900 Sprint, Iso Rivolta Grifo, Aston Martin DB5, Lamborghini 350 and 400 GT and the Maserati 5000 GT. The work of Carrozzeria Touring produced for the 166 and 212 Ferrari in Coupé, Spider and Barchetta models stands out as some of the most important.
The Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera was founded by Felice Bianchi Anderloni who previously worked for Isotta-Fraschini as a test driver. In 1925 Anderloni along with his friend Gaetano Ponzoni, acquired majority shares of Carrozzeria Falco and this became the Touring name, with Ponzoni as the head of administration. Anderloni brought his skills as a designer to Touring learning the mechanics of the trade as the company grew.
The company was located just north of Milan and only a short distance from Alfa Romeo, Italian Citroen, and the former Isotta-Fraschini plant. Quite naturally, Touring's first bodywork assignments were for these companies.
It was the licensing of Charles Weymann's system of fabric-covered lightweight frames that eventually led to the development of Touring’s own “Superleggera” construction system. Giuseppe Seregni, who previously collaborated with Anderloni on the 1927 Isotta-Fraschini 'Flying Star,' was hired by Touring as its first professional designer.
Lamborghini 350 GT.
Through their successful production of light alloy and fabric tubing forms for aircraft in the 1930’s, brought Touring recognition and increase in business. Touring’s “Superleggera” Alfa Romeo designs, particularly the 8C 2900 chassis had earned them a measure of fame before World War II.
In 1948 as the company was in the process of rebuilding after the war ended, Federico Formenti and Anderloni were working on several master works including the Ferrari 166 coupe and spider when Anderloni died. Anderloni’s son, Carlo (CiCi) took the helm of the company under the supervision of Ponzoni and they remain in this partnership until the company ceased operations.
The “Superleggera” system at this point in time had become widely licensed and copied. Touring was particularly active late in the 1950s; the Pegaso Z-102, Alfa Romeo 1900 Super Sprint and 2600, Aston Martin DB4, Lancia Flaminia GT, Lamborghini 350 and 400 GT and Maserati 3500 GT.
However it was the expansion to work with Hudson Motors chief stylist Frank Spring to develop the 1954 Hudson Italia that proved unsustainable as many companies took coach building tasks in-house.
Touring was unable to compete with Pininfarina and to adhere to traditional methods and high standards and the company ceased operations in 1966. Many of the company’s employees went to work for Carrozzeria Marazzi where they continued to build Lamborghini bodies. Carlo joined Alfa Romeo as a design advisor, eventually becoming the head of the design department.
The company, Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera got a fresh start and the freedom to write a new chapter in modern automotive history through a collaboration agreement between Marazzi and the international automotive Zeta Europe BV group in 2006, which transferred the Touring Superleggera brand rights to Zeta Europe BV.
As a result, Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera srl., will be able to continue the tradition of Italian style and coach building, remaining in Milan working on extensive automotive design and prototyping.
Today Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera srl offers the elegance, style and grace that became the symbols of the irreplaceable and incredible Italian passion for fine automobile craftsmanship. These are the same traditional values held by the founders of the company in the years before and after the war. The high standards and regard for traditional methods established Touring as a design force that earned high regard throughout the automotive industry in Italy. The experience and innovation afforded by the development of the “Superleggera” construction system from the 20th century together with top-level expertise and state-of-the-art technology of 21st century is sure to lead to even greater automotive achievements in the future.