During the 50’s and 60’s most European sports cars had their custom bodies built by the Italian coachbuilders. The practice declined as unibody construction (where the car body is unified with and structurally part of the chassis) made coachbuilding (putting a custom-made body on a separate factory-made or mass produced chassis) too expensive and impossible to continue for mass produced models.
Recently, the craft has enjoyed a resurgence after affluent car aficionados were willing to pay huge premiums for custom one-off productions, and the change from steel monocoque chassis to carbon fiber monocoque has considerably reduced costs for coachbuilders. Most of the carrozzerias have also transformed into dedicated design houses subcontracted by automotive brands.
Gruppo Bertone is an Italian car styling and coachbuilding house that also builds cars. Bertone has styled cars for Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Fiat, Lancia, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz and Volvo. Bertone even designed two versions of the famous Italian motorscooter “Lambretta.” The more familiar sports cars designed by Bertone include the Lamborghini Countach and Diablo, Alfa Romeo GT, Cizeta Moroder V16T, and the Bertone Fiat Barchetta.
Pininfarina S.p.A. is another Italian carrozzeria and car designer. The firm has been employed by many automobile makers like Ferrari, Maserati, Cadillac, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia. The most familiar Pininfarina designs are the Ferrari Testarossa P4/5, the Cadillac Allanté, and the Ford Focus CC.
Italdesign-Giugiaro S.p.A. (commonly known as Italdesign) also does custom body work and even automotive engineering and prototyping. Familiar Italdesign cars are the Lotus Esprit, DeLorean DMC-12, Fiat Uno, Volkswagen Golf, and 2007 Ford Mustang.