Bruno Sacco is the man who created the classic Mercedes-Benz look and silhouette.
After short stints for design houses Ghia and Pininfarina, the Italian joined Mercedes in 1958. He was 24 years old.
Following his arrival, he worked on classics such as the large 600 sedan, some regard as the predecessor of today's Maybach ultraluxury car.
After Sacco took charge of Mercedes' styling department in 1975 he introduced a coherent design philosophy based on two principles:
1. Vertical affinity, which required that successor models should not make their predecessors look outdated
2. Horizontal homogeneity, which demanded stylistic affinity between different-sized models.
The philosophy culminated in Mercedes' 1980s lineup. Every model from the 190 "Baby Benz" sedan up to the S class and SL models shared the brand's signature look. Today, the S class built between 1979 and 1990 is considered by many as the quintessential luxury sedan.
Willing to take a risk
Despite the air of cool superiority that surrounded his cars, Sacco never shied away from calculated controversy.
"One can only recognize innovative technology when it is combined with equally innovative design," he once said.
Thus, some Mercedes cars of the Sacco era sported elements that were considered daring at the time. Two examples are the plastic side cladding on the 1979 S class and the ear-shaped taillights on the 1993 C class.
In the early 1990s, Sacco relaxed his rules to give his designers more flexibility to shape the ever-expanding Mercedes lineup. The first model that significantly departed from his early principles was the 1995 E class, which featured four flamboyant headlights.
Sacco retired in March 1999. His final contribution to the brand is considered one of his masterpieces. The CL coupe's sleek body and classic roofline perfectly blend tradition and modernity. The car is a testament to the vision of this great designer.
You may e-mail Jens Meiners at [email protected]