TURIN -- Volkswagen AG's decision to buy a controlling stake in Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A. has a personal note for VW Group Chairman Ferdinand Piech, who spent a summer working at the Italian design house almost 40 years ago.
After eight years as head of Porsche AG's racing department, Piech arrived at Italdesign in 1972 at the age of 37. Piech was hungry to learn about design and engineering from Italdesign co-founder Giorgetto Giugiaro, who was already a legend in the auto industry.
“When Piech came to us, we had just finished designing the first-generation Golf and Scirocco coupe,” Giugiaro told Automotive News Europe in 2002.
“Piech had his own office where he made technical drawings of various mechanical layouts and solutions. Every time I entered his office, he came to attention like a soldier in front of his general,” Giugiaro said. “I felt that was not necessary, especially as he is 16 months older than me.”
Giugiaro asked Piech what he thought of the Golf and Scirocco designs. “He told me: 'I really like the Scirocco -- that will be successful, but not the Golf. That car will be a failure,' ” Giugiaro recalled.
Many years later, after the two men had become good friends and the Golf had become hugely influential and a best seller, Giugiaro asked Piech about his comment on the car. Piech simply replied: “I felt it was too advanced for its time,” Giugiaro said.