At the tender age of nine, Carlo Castagna (1840-1914) began his training with the renowned coach builder Mainetti & Orseniga. For more than 100 years, the company has been producing carriages for the aristocracy and the royal dynasties of Europe. Castagna worked its way up and took over the company in 1894 under the new name of C Castagna & Co. He maintained both the maintenance as well as the production of the high-ranking carriages, but was already involved in the car body construction for automobiles.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the first automobile with an internal combustion engine was built in the body shop. This symbol of the new industrial age quickly became fashionable for wealthy, respected families. Thanks to a modern facility, Carrozzeria Castagna was able to build a white double-haeton for Queen Margherita of Savoy as early as 1905. It was based on the chassis of the Fiat 24-32 HP. In 1913 Castagna developed the Alfa 40-60 HP Castagna Aerodynamics. The designer was inspired by airship travel. The Zeppelin-like model is now regarded as the first example of a minivan in automotive history. This somewhat strange-looking vehicle can be admired today at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo in Arese.
After Carlo Castagna died in World War I, his son Ercole took over the company and worked as a designer. The chassis used now came from Alfa Romeo, Daimler, Benz and Isotta Fraschini among others. The high quality of workmanship, combined with the recurring style elements of Art Deco, quickly developed into the trademark of Carrozzeria Castagna. Typical for the models were large headlights, toolboxes integrated into the running board, chrome strips running up on the rear fenders and a flamboyant interior made of wood and upholstery. The company achieved international recognition in New York with the Prinz of Wales sedan on an Isotta Fraschini chassis and the Commodore Isotta Fraschini roadster on a Mercedes-Benz chassis.
In May 1929 the three sons of Ercoles joined the company. Black Friday in October 1929 put an end to sales of luxury cars in the USA. Renowned brands such as Isotta had to file for bankruptcy, while Alfa Romeo switched to the cheaper car body manufacturer Carrozzeria Touring. The loss of orders led to strained conditions well into the 1930s.
In 1939, after graduating from the Accademia di Brera, Emilio Castagna took over the family business. His focus was on new solutions and techniques. The Second World War, which began shortly after the takeover, had a devastating effect on Carrozzeria Castagna. Despite the destruction of the factory in Venegono in 1942, the family did not give up. However, orders from Alfa Romeo and Lancia were no longer able to save the company, and in 1953 the long-established company had to declare bankruptcy.
For Alfa Romeo, Carrozzeria Casagna built the 1900 SS, C Castagna 1750 GS, 6C Castagna 2300B Cabriolet, 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta, 8C 2300 Drophead Coupé, RL SS Corto Torpedo as well as the 1924 RM Sport 1924,1931 the 6C Castagna 1750 GT and 1934 the 6c 2300 GT.
Gioaccino Acampora and Umberto Pietra acquired the rights to the Castagna name in 1994, reviving the Carrozzeria Castagna. Her first unconventional designs were based on models from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, Bently and the Corvette. However, the new Carrozzeria Casagne only became really famous with the Mini. In the meantime, the body forge in its main business has specialized in special bodywork and tuning of mass-produced vehicles.