Dante Giacosa


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Giacosa was the celebrated Italian engineer who designed two of Fiat's most celebrated small cars, symbols of the company's desire for affordable, mass‐produced, and utilitarian urban transport. These were the Fiat 500 of 1936, known as the Topolino or ‘Mickey Mouse’, and the Fiat Nuovo 500 of 1957. Having studied mechanical engineering at Turin Polytechnic from 1922 to 1927, Giacosa moved into car design, joining Fiat in 1930. After a period designing diesel and aircraft engines he was put in charge of the company's automobile section. The resulting Topolino of 1936 was an important contribution with a number of innovations in the design of the chassis, the front suspension, and the placing of the engine, the latter being designed by Virgilio Borsattino. These and other engineering innovations helped facilitate the design of the car's striking aerodynamic body, produced in conjunction with the head of Fiat's body‐styling department, Rodolfo Schaeffer. However, the project as a whole was coordinated and realized by designer‐engineer Giacosa. The Topolino's 569 cc engine was also highly economical, running at around 80 miles to the gallon (30 km/litre), speedy enough at 50 mph (80 kph), and the car itself attractively priced at less than 10,000 lire. It remained in production, with some minor changes in its B and C versions, until 1955, by which time it had sold more than 500,000 units. After the Second World War Giacosa was associated with a considerable number of Fiat models. These included many other small car designs such as the rear‐engined Fiat 600 of 1955 (with over 3 million produced globally), the highly economical and innovatory Fiat Nuovo 500 of 1957, the Fiat 127 of 1971 and the 126 of 1972. Of these, the air‐cooled, two cylinder rear‐engined Fiat Nuovo 500 has perhaps been the most widely known. Giacosa played a central role in the design of its body as well as overseeing the project as a whole.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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