The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

7.2 Homage to the Flying Mantuan, Bertone Nivola

Once another time Bertone had its team working on a Corvette, and this time it was the iconic ZR-1 of the eighties, again a C4 generation model, to be reinvented.
As for the present ZR1, this model was there to show that even with the typically American push-rods engines astonishing specs and performance could be achieved, and it did succeed, as opposed to European SOHC and DOHC layouts.
What didn't convinced many purists on this side of the pond was the chassis and the overall package, maybe just a way to diminish the value of the car so to never admit even American sportscars can actually perform well.

Bertone, which has always had a softspot for the Corvette, took the chance to show what could have been done to achieve an “European” car with American techonlogies.
The Bertone Nivola was about to born.

Named after Italian driver Tazio Nuvolari, nicknamed Nivola, the car received also the same yellow paint job of the cars the driver from Mantova used to drive. A full homage to an Italian legend from another one.

The main feature about the Nivola is its technical side. The engine is positioned behind the cockpit, in the usual position you'd expect in a V8 car from Maranello.
In order to achieve this result a new subframe was designed to sustain the engine and the new ZF gearbox adopted for this unit. By doing so the whole chassis had to be modified and now the car appears as a sporty two seater. It's actually a Barchetta, or a roadster if you like, as the roof (not showed in these pictures) can be easily and quickly removed.
At the end the usual long and flat front bonnet is gone, loosing one of the main aspects of the C4, as still recognizable on the Ramarro.
Another clever feature are the luggage compartments, which are now integrated inside of the large doors, and the seats, that as on many modern extreme supercars are integrated in the main structure, just the other way out. If on cars like the Gumpert Apollo you have the backrest directly attached to the structure, on the Nivola is the actual seat to be apart of it, allowing for an even lower position.
The car is gradually achieving a look closer to Le Mans racers like the marvelous Ferrari 312P rather than to a Corvette of any sort.

Talking about the look, the car manages to remind me of the Corvette Mako Shark Concept. There isn't a straight similarity between the two, not even a conceptual one, but I think it's rather the fluent bodywork of the Nivola that reminds me something aerodynamic and powerful at the same time as a shark. Perhaps, thinking of the Nivola with the top on, the car resembles more of a bull shark, with its hump looking somehow similar to the shape of the cockpit (when the top is on that is).
Or it's just me...

Overall it has a very simple shape, and pretty compact. Like a modern Spyker C8 Spyder if you like. It is maybe a bit too simple to really impress me, or maybe it's how its design evolved in the 1992 Bertone Blitz in a much more intriguing way.
That doesn't mean this car is bad looking, probably it's best characteristic is to be so radical on the technical side, without the need to show it off with a dramatic bodywork.
Judge by yourself, even if once again there are only a few images to look at.

All Images Copyright: Damiano Garro


Anonymous said...

I remember seeing the Nivola at the Detroit Auto show back in the day. Any idea where it is now?

Damiano Garro said...

HI there,
this vehicle is still owned by Bertone and should be visible at their shop in Caprie, just outside Turin.

Check their website for more info:

Kind regards,

Anonymous said...

Excellent, thanks a bunch!

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