Gruppo Bertone, commonly known simply as Bertone, was an Italian automobile company, which specialized in car styling, coachbuilding and manufacturing. Bertone styling is distinctive, with most cars having a strong "family resemblance" even if they are badged by different manufacturers. Bertone has styled cars for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Citroen, Ferrari, FIAT, Iso, Lancia, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Opel and Volvo, among others. In addition, the Bertone studio was responsible for two of the later designs of the Lambretta motorscooter. In the late 1980s, Bertone styled the K20 motorcycle helmet for Swiss bicycle and motorcycle helmet manufacturer Kiwi.
Vincenzo Lancia realised straight away that Giovanni Bertone was an outstanding skilled craftsman with a great future ahead of him. Affectionately nicknaming him "Bertunot", he commissioned Bertone to create complete car bodies, above all for the limited series that the companies of the day were not always equipped to manufacture. This was Bertone's first opportunity to carry out limited production of special cars on standard mechanical bases, and was the beginning of a great industrial experience.
In 1965, Carrozzeria Bertone experienced a major turning-point, with the launch of the Fiat 850 Spider. The commercial success of this model led Nuccio Bertone to increase the company's production capacity to 120 units per day (between 1965 and 1972 nearly 140,000 were produced, the great majority of which were sold in the United States). With the Fiat 850, the company took a giant leap forward in terms of production volumes, from the 13,000 bodies produced in 1966 to nearly 30,000 in 1968, an increase of 40 percent.
In 1972, at the age of 88, Giovanni Bertone died. In that year, as a tacit tribute to the company's founder, the Maserati Khamsin and the Fiat X1/9 were released. The latter, foreshadowed by the Runabout concept car, was the heir of the 850 Spider, and went on to enjoy the same runaway commercial success. Based on the Fiat 128 chassis but with a mid-rear-engine layout, the X1/9 was in production from 1972 to 1988, with 160,000 units manufactured.
Without abandoning its commitment to exploring the new languages of car design, Bertone entered the 1990s with its focus on technological innovations. Capturing the attention of public and experts alike at the 1992 Turin Motor Show was the aggressively futuristic Blitz barchetta, a showcar which featured an electric engine and avant-garde construction solutions. The barchetta had a tubular chassis in special steel integrated with sandwich-structuredfiber glass panels, bodywork in composite materials and carbon interiors.