Architect’s Linea Diamante car unveiled

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Gio Ponti's design was considered too radical in 1953 | Grand Basel photos

Earlier this week we shared the story of Italian architect Gio Ponti and his design for his Diamond Line car. The news hook was that 65 years after it was considered too radical, the car would be unveiled for the first time as a full-scale model at the Grand Basel car show in Switzerland.

“To see this design come to life for the first time, 65 years after the original drawings were created, will be truly remarkable,” said Salvatore Licitra, Ponti’s grandson. “The car was thought to be too radical at the time, but many of its features would prove fundamental in the two decades of car design that followed.”

The model was done by FCA Heritage, Fiat Chrysler’s vintage vehicle division.

Ponti’s car displayed in Switzerlandwith his Superleggera chair

The car was selected to be showcased at Grand Basel because organizers realized that features of Ponti’s design “would prove fundamental to future cars.”

Ponti lived until 1979 and his work included the 32-story Pirelli Tower in Milan and the Superleggera chair,“which embodied lightness in both aesthetic and physical terms.” 

Regarding his Diamond Line car, “Ponti saw his new design as a necessary reaction to the staid automobile styling of the time, which was characterized by large, swollen shapes with small windows and dark interiors,” the Grand Basel news release explained.

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“By comparison, his vision was a more architectural car with flat-form body panels and windows, and a substantial glass area that would flood the cabin with light.

“The clever packaging would enhance the utilitarian aspect of the car, enabling a generously proportioned cabin and a spacious boot.”

Another innovation, developed with tire-maker Pirelli, was a rubber bumper around the circumference of the car. The front and rear included spring-mounted “buffers” as safety devices in a collision. 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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