The design forges listed here from A to Z made the Alfa Romeo brand the epitome of automotive design. They gave the technical refinements an' optical soul' that still inspires Alfisti around the globe today.
The term body construction encompasses the design and manufacture of complete carriages and sledges as well as the production of superstructures for automobiles. The profession of automobile designer and courses of study have only existed since the 1970s. Up to that time, the designs for car bodies, also outdated car bodies or written in English Carrossery, came from cartwrights, blacksmiths, coachbuilders, engineers, artists or simply autodidactors.
The outer form of the vehicles, at that time referred to as motorized carriages, followed their function for a long time. The first automobiles were basically carriages with an uncovered engine and turntable steering for the driver. For example, the Landaulet developed from the four-wheeled Landauer, a four-seater carriage suspended on both axles with seats arranged opposite each other. From around 1910 onwards, the appearance of the vehicles changed. Cladded engines in the front area and designs such as the two-seater Phaeton as well as the double-seater double-alphaeton with a view in the direction of travel prevailed. Increasingly, it became important to protect passengers from wind and weather with the help of windows, doors and covers. Nevertheless, car design remained a variant of coach design.
1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato/Aprile Spider Corsa
Before the mass production of automobiles began, two steps were necessary for the purchase of a vehicle. First of all, the buyer had to choose an automobile manufacturer. He merely supplied the chassis with the drive technology and the engine. The second step included the selection of a car body builder who designed and crafted a bodywork. According to the customer's wishes, he produced both the exterior and interior of the vehicle, including the colour scheme. Many sketches were made on a scale of 1:1 and the designs could not only be easily converted into templates, but the customer also received a very vivid idea of his future vehicle. In this custom body shop, the client had the opportunity to contribute his own ideas. Bodybuilders required not only manual dexterity, but also a keen eye for proportions, the ability to technically implement the customer's impossible requirements and an eye for detail. They were not only outstanding craftsmen and excellent technicians, but also true artists. Both simple, purpose-built automobiles and high-elegant ultra-luxury vehicles with every possible comfort at that time as well as sleek sports cars were created, each model more or less unique. In addition to private customers, larger dealers ordered vehicles for their showrooms from the body forges, while manufacturers had small series or racing cars built in the body shops.
With the emergence of self-supporting car bodies, unibody constructions and mass production from the middle of the 20th century, demand from car body manufacturers declined. It became more and more difficult to get orders for special superstructures and custom-made products. Manufacturers set up their own design offices. Numerous workshops had to declare bankruptcy, selling to larger companies or automobile manufacturers or changing their core business in order to survive.