Touring was one of several coachbuilders in Italy and elsewhere that tried their hand at fastbacks before World War II. Shortly after the war, the car that grabbed worldwide attention and revolutionized automotive design was the Giovanni Savonuzzi–penned and Pinin Farina–built Cisitalia 202 berlinetta, which debuted in 1947. Berlinetta means “little sedan” in Italian, and the car’s shape looks like that of a two-seat fastback.
The Cisitalia has stupendous proportions, with a long hood and a thin, curved roofline leading to a flowing fastback. It also features a hood that is lower than the front fenders. The design’s influence can be seen in the shapes of such classics as the Corvette Sting Ray and the Jaguar E-Type. By the early 1950s nearly every Italian manufacturer and coachbuilder offered a berlinetta.
Because there are so many sensational models in the category, selecting one representative berlinetta for this story was an extremely difficult choice. Ferrari’s history is loaded with these cars, as are Lancia’s, Fiat’s, and those of more obscure marques such as Iso, with its beautiful Grifo, and Bizzarrini, with the Strada and GT America. But the Maserati Ghibli is quintessentially sleek, and with its long hood, low roofline, and truncated tail, it just screams speed, even when it’s standing still.
Debuted in 1966, the Ghibli was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro shortly after he became Ghia’s head of design. The rich and famous clamored to buy the car: Owners included Wilt Chamberlain and Henry Ford II.