Giovanni Michelotti (6 October 1921 – 23 January 1980) was one of the most prolific designers of sports cars in the 20th century. His notable contributions were for Ferrari, Lancia, Maserati and Triumph marques. He was also associated with truck designs for Leyland Motors, and with designs for British Leyland (including the Leyland National bus) after the merger of Leyland and BMC.
Born in Turin, Italy, Michelotti worked for coachbuilders, including Stabilimenti Farina, Vignale, Allemano, Bertone, Ghia, Ghia-Aigle, Scioneri, Monterosa, Viotti, Fissore and OSI, before opening his own design studio in 1959. He also cooperated with manufacturers producing their own cars based on Fiat or other mechanicals, like Siata, Moretti, Francis Lombardi and Nardi. From 1962, Michelotti concluded cooperation with Carrozzeria Vignale and began his own coachbuilding activities.
Towards the end of his life, asked whether he had ever designed anything other than cars, Michelotti acknowledged that virtually all of his design work had involved cars, but he admitted to having designed a coffee making machine shortly after the war.
From the late 1950s Michelotti was responsible for all new models produced by the British company Standard Triumph, starting with a facelift of the Standard Vanguard and going on to design other models for Triumph such as:
He also created a number of prototypes which did not go into production, such as the Triumph Fury. The only Triumphs after 1960 that were not his work were the TR6 and the TR7, plus the Honda-based Acclaim.
After Triumph's parent company Leyland Motors became a part of British Leyland, Michelotti undertook a facelift of the BMC 1100 – which became the Spanish-built Austin Victoria and also the South African-built Austin Apache. He also designed the Leyland National bus and the Australian-made Leyland P76.
Giovanni Michelotti's BMW association started with the BMW 700 (1959) and later the successful BMW New Class series of designs of which the most notable is the BMW 2002. His sport sedan designs later became the BMW design language, that was continued and refined by Ercole Spada well into the 1980s.
Michelotti also worked with the Dutch firm DAF, starting in 1963 with redesigning the ageing Daffodil 31 model into the Daffodil 32 and DAF 33. The Shellette beach car was also originally developed to use DAF underpinnings. The DAF 44 (1966) was a completely new design from his hand and he also helped form its derivatives 46, 55 and 66, which culminated in the Volvo 66 (1975). In 1968, Michelotti built a concept car based on his DAF 55 design, called Siluro (Italian for torpedo), which remained in his possession until his death. The car has since been restored and is in possession of the DAF museum in Eindhoven.
Michelotti did present a few cars under his own name. The Shellette was a beach car with wicker seats and dashboard in the spirit of Ghia's, Fiat 500 and 600 "Jollies". The Shellette was designed in collaboration with yacht designer Philip Schell. Originally constructed with DAF underpinnings, this was later changed to Fiat 850 mechanicals. Unlike the Ghia Jolly, the 47 PS (35 kW) Shellette was a reasonably useful car having a heater and various other creature comforts. It was also capable of a 60 mph (97 km/h) cruising speed. Only about 80 were built, with around ten still in existence. Famous buyers included the Dutch Royal Family, who used an early DAF-based Shellette at their summer property in Porto Ercole, and Jacqueline Onassis, who employed a later model on the Onassis' private island Skorpios.
Around 1980, the Fiat 127-based "Every" appeared, a light buggy-styled vehicle. Michelotti also marketed a luxurious version of the Daihatsu Taft. In 1985 the Michelotti PAC was presented, a one-off citycar prototype (PAC = "Project Automotive Commuter") based on the Daihatsu Cuore.
In the 1960s, Michelotti designed a glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) cab for certain lorries made by Scammell, who had become part of Leyland Motors in 1955. The cab was used for the Routeman, Handyman and Trunker models. The Townsman also had a Michelotti designed cab.
For other companies he designed the following (incomplete):