Bertone Bankrupt

by Michael Satterfield

One of the greatest Italian design houses and manufacturers has finally shuttered its doors completely after over 100 years in business. Sadly Bertone failed to find a buyer earlier this year that could put together a business plan that would settle its over $40 million dollars in debts, so Italian courts have ordered the company be dissolved and assets be sold off. Bertone was responsible for some of the most beautiful and innovative cars the world has ever known, including the Alfa Romeo Guiletta, Lamborghini Miura, Lancia Stratos, and many other iconic cars. Inspite of that impressive resume, it seems that Bertone could not find its place in todays automotive landscape.

Bertone Factory

This day has been looming for nearly two decades, the company never recovered from the death of automotive visionary Nuccio Bertone in 1997. Since his passing, the company has faced a series of financial difficulties and issues with leadership as seemingly no one could fill his shoes. A quote by Nuccio "Gary" Bertone sums up what Bertone as a company used to be: "Our role is the production of car bodywork on which we impose the styling trends, build prototypes, develop the design, the production methods, and the tooling. Naturally, we produce them in quantity."  In the 90's under Gary's leadership Bertone flourished becoming the first manufacturer in Italy to be awarded the ISO 9001 quality certification. Bertone also innovated in the field of electric cars and composite body panels, testing these technologies in their land speed record setting ZER (Zero Emissions Record) car.

Alfa Romeo bodies being loaded

Quantity in any business is what pays the bills, in the 90's Bertone was producing cars for Fiat, Opel, Volvo and many others. Their conceptual and coach building work business was still pretty vibrant but the large scale production is what kept the lights on. However, in 2009 Bertone sold off its manufacturing plant and activities to Fiat as desperate attempt to keep company afloat. That move might have just killed off their Golden Goose. From 1998-2014 the company only produced around 1 concept car a year and some years they produced none at all, with zero manufacturing to offset the massive costs the debts just kept adding up.

The Fiat X1/9 later sold in the US as a Bertone X1/9

A spokesperson for Bertone told the Telegraph back in March “The problem is many debts and very high costs. At the moment everything is blocked. People haven’t been coming to work for a month and a half now.”

Fiat Dinos (Back) and Alfa Romeo Montreals rolling down the Bertone assembly line 
The Bertone family will retain the name and has licensed the name and logo to a new company in Milan called Bertone Design. According to Wards Auto the only positive thing to come out of the shuttering of the company is that the Bertone collection of cars must be sold as a lot since it is considered to be part of Italy's national heritage. 

Source: Wards Auto via Jalopnik