This month we’re covering one of the most iconic design houses in automobile history “Bertone“. It was a sad day when they fell into bankruptcy a few years back. Bertone designed for many manufactures, from the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa, Aston Martin, and Mercedes Benz to Fiat, Volvo, Citroen and MG amongst many more. They also had done design work for motorcycle and motor scooter manufactures. Some of my favorite designs are the Lamborghini Miura and the 1953 through 1955 Alfa concept Bat cars number 7-8 and 9, talk about Art Deco.
For me When I think about Bertone, I remember the Volvo 262C Bertone. If you didn’t already know we are Volvo folks. My wife Mary and two daughters drive Volvos and I have three Volvo P1800’s a Italian designed sports car from a different designer. But that’s a different story.
The Volvo bug was started by my father. He started buying selling and collecting them in the mid 70’s. You see he was and still is to some extent a collector “pack rat”. Dad always sought after the not so main stream things in life including automobiles. First Dad collected Hudson’s owning over 80 of them, of course not all at the same time. Then there were odd ball imports Renault, Saab, Hillman, Triumph, MG, and Austin Healey which by the way most of those manufactures are now out of business. For a short time he collected AMC products also out of business. The last manufacture he really went after was Volvo. They some how managed to escape his curse. Dad had always longed for a 262C Volvo Bertone. He really loved the chopped roof line. So he managed to get two of them later in life. Dad converted one of them the better of the two a silver one with a black vinyl top to a B230 four cylinder a common practice amongst Volvo aficionados. The original V6 aluminum block engine designed and shared by Volvo, Renault and Peugeot also used in DeLorean’s was not of the best design. Well, like most things Dad did, took longer than expected. Between the engine swap and a missing title he ran out of time. Dad never did get to drive it. The Volvo Bertone sat around in a warehouse for years. My sister, brother and I around 10 years ago, cleaned out the collection of stuff he packed away in that two thousand square foot warehouse in Clearwater, Florida. We loaded four big roll off dumpsters, Dad saved a lot of stuff, in there lied along with the Volvo Bertones a three wheel kit car and a life time of collecting. I even came across some model cars I put together as a young boy. I regret not saving them along with two Aluminum flat head cylinder heads off Hudson 308 7X engines. The Volvos went to his friend’s shop were they sat waiting to get a title for a few more years. There was even talk of shipping the better of the two out here for us. As time went on, Dad who is now 83 lost track of the Volvo Bertones and no longer drives, but on occasion when we talk, some of the really cool cars Dad has owned over his life come up in conversation. My Dad’s automobile life, along with Bertone’s has faded away. For me the memories of both will live on. A quick note, Rallye Coachworks made number 5 on Denver’s A List! Thank you to my readers, Tony Martins still in the fast lane.