Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sergio Sartorelli, 1928–2009

Sad news came in today from Italy: Sergio Sartorelli, the man responsible for the design of the VW 1500 Karmann-Ghia, died yesterday at the age of 81.

Sartorelli joined Carrozzeria Ghia in 1956 and within a year he became the head of styling for the prototyping department, a position he held until 1963. In that time he designed and supervised the design of dozens of automotive projects. His work on the 1500 Ghia began in early 1959 and continued through 1960. Though the 1500 Ghia was designed with collaborative assistance from young American stylist Tom Tjaarda, there's no question that it was almost entirely Sartorelli's design.

Sartorelli's original 1500 Ghia prototype [photo: Larry Edson]

After Ghia he went on to work with Centro Stile OSI (a styling, prototyping, and production facility originally affiliated with Ghia) and later with Fiat. In addition to the 1500 Ghia his most celebrated designs include the Fiat 2300S Coupe, the Ghia 1500 GT Coupe, and the Ford/OSI Taunus 12M TS.

Sartorelli (second from right) with the OSI design team in the mid-1960s

Just over a year ago the Karmann Ghia Club Italia honored Sartorelli at a club meeting in Turin. At the event Sartorelli reminisced about his career and the development of the 1500 Ghia, and he was able to connect directly with a group of people who are highly appreciative his life's work. I hope he knew that group was also representative of a larger worldwide community that thanks him for his unique creative vision every day.

Sartorelli with a 1500 Ghia at the Karmann Ghia Club Italia event in October 2008.  [Images from the Karmann Ghia Club Italia]

More information on Sartorelli's work can be found here:
Karmann Ghia Club Italia
Karmann Komment, the magazine of the Karmann Ghia Owner's Club of Great Britain (pdf)
The Type 34 Registry


Anonymous said...

Thanks Scott for the beautiful words.
Of course he well felt the affection of Karmann Ghia Club Wordlwide and i think we (Karmann Ghia Clubs) where among people made him happy.
Antonio Pellegrino

Scott said...

Thanks to you Antonio for all you've done to recognize Sartorelli's achievements and to honor him. We've all enjoyed the great photos of your meeting with him that you've posted on your site -- makes us feel almost like we were there too.


Anonymous said...

It would have been a great occasion for me, to become acquainted with Mr. Sartorelli at the planned meeting "50 years Karmann Ghia Type 34" in Georgsmarienhuette in the year 2011.

I regret that this can not be possible.

I take off my hat to his work of a lifetime and condole with the relatives on his death.

Wolfgang Klinkert