FEB 05th 2015

Cars that rock Retromobile: Bertone Sibilo

Could this strange device be the ultimate wedgy?

Low, long, and unnervingly brown, this serious wedge is the Bertone Sibilo, one of a number of unique Italian coachbuilt cars in the stunning Corrado Lopresto Collection being displayed at the 2015 Retromobile in Paris.

Based around the last Lancia Stratos chassis to be built, the Sibilo was unveiled to a mixed reaction at the 1978 Turin Motor Show, possibly not helped by the odd chocolate brown colour choice.

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The prototype’s distinctive style was the work of Bertone’s then head of design, Marcello Gandini, who also penned Bertone’s iconic 1970s mid-engined wedge, the Lamborghini Countach.

The Sibilo drew on many other Gandini design cues too, including an update of his ‘screw head’ alloy wheels, seen on many of his other projects, plus an instrument block that inspired his later ‘Lego look’ dash in the original Renault 5 Turbo models.

Quite why he opted for brown though is something of a mystery. Perhaps the colour leant itself to the concept’s unusual feature of the paint scheme morphing into the glass area, making the Sibilo’s glazed areas look solid. Gandini diluted this experimental idea on the rear pillars of the early range-topping Citroën BX models that he styled.

Perhaps the most bizarre element of the Sibilo though is its solid steering wheel. The wheel centre was completely flat, clad with buttons, but leaving no space for the driver’s thumbs. The wheel therefore had to be palmed to make it turn; thankfully a feature that didn’t make it in to any production car, saving any more brown moments.

Photography: Tom Shaxson

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