Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Quick Thoughts: The Bertone Pandion “Why Bother?” Edition

Never have two great automotive names been so resolutely underserved by their colaboration.

When I was a kid I was given a book packed to the rafters with images and descriptions of the output of the Italian styling houses up to the mid-80s. Apart from a couple of Pininfarina jobbies like the Ferrari Modulo and Pinin (don’t ask, I love barges hmmmkay?) it was always the sheer audacity and other-worldlieness of the Bertone cars that made me keep turning those pages until the book fell apart.

From BAT to Marzal (stylishly accessorised above) to Carabo to Camargue to Sibilo… the list goes on and on… Bertone was largely responsible for me wanting to become a car designer.

It’s only natural, therefore, that I expect a great deal of Bertone, and while they’ve wavered in the last couple of years, the news that they would be teaming up with Alfa Romeo for Geneva had my heart a-flutter.

Consider that heart shot out of the sky and in the mouth of a rabid dog. I’m hurt and I’m mad.

Allegedly penned by the now-departed Jason Castriota (he of the Bertone Mantide… oh yes), Penned by new Stile Bertone chief Mike Robinson the Alfa Romeo Pandion is such a lazy pastiche of Bertone history and other manufacturers concepts that it stings.

Now, if a picture speaks you know what, I’m about to unleash verbal diarrhoea:

Quite why Castriota Robinson felt the need to reference a Lamborghini, let alone BMW, Mazda and Saab, when designing an Alfa Romeo is beyond me, but hey, this is just my opinion.

At least he did something interesting, if not good, with the chaotic structure sitting under the tail before he turned out the lights and walked out of Bertone. Sadly it’s still so reminiscent of many other concept cars, especially those of the CGI variety that appear at student design shows.

The Bertone I fell in love with made trends or or thumbed it’s nose at them; the Pandion represents a shameless bandwagon jump. While I might expect such an approach from an upstart Chinese manufacturer or consultancy, the fact it this: Bertone should know better. Better than to be so lazy with their own image and, most importantly, the image of their client.

Alfa Romeo deserves so much more than this car, especially given the turmoil they currently face (Chrysler 300C-based 16-something, anyone?). Let’s hope that Pininfarina and Italdesign can bring something better to the Geneva show.

Category: Car, Design

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12 Responses

  1. Massimo says:

    for all DOWNSIDEUPDESIGN reader…please refer to my comment in the previous post…THIS IS A SUICIDE…not a concept, neither a car…

    Drew you know what i mean…this is a shame…

  2. Jo says:

    I think it looks great, especially it’s front end.

  3. flo says:

    Not that it changes anything – but are we really sure Castriota is to credit for this one…?

  4. miguel ángel iranzo says:

    the thing that puzzles me the most are the HUGE alfa romeo badges. it’s like the car wouldn’t be recognizable as an alfa without them.

    they are 2 ton pickup size.

  5. Michael says:

    I’m not in love with this car, but with so many cars that existing, wouldn’t it be difficult to find any vehicle that doesn’t reference some others? Especially when you throw this many out there, it strikes me that very few cars couldn’t be compared to others in a similar way.

  6. Drew says:

    Flo:- Fair point. As far as I can ascertain, it was done by Castriota but I’ll change the post to reflect the current uncertainty. If anyone can find out for sure, let me know!

  7. Drew says:

    Miguel:- That’s what happens when who go cherry picking other cars four your design themes! With nothing that screams Alfa in the body theme, they needed to clearly establish the brand somehow and an Escalade-scale badge was clearly the best way 😉

  8. Drew says:

    This comment was left by DownsideUpDesign reader Massimo on the previous post about suicide (doors).

    I thought it worth sticking it in here to have the input of a massively passionate Italian designer for whom I have a great deal of time:

    I have just seen the Bertone’s Alfa Romeo Pandion Concept for Geneva, and although, this comment may appear out of place in this post; it is not!

    Let me put it plainly, even though it may
    (i repeat “may”)
    looks cool, and that is basically because is a
    re-assemble of previous concept car coming from BMW, MAZDA and SAAB; it is simply the most irrelevant, pointless ever made concept car in history…

    Why? It is simply not an ALFA ROMEO…
    let’s talk about style:
    Beauty(what you should expect from an Alfa)?
    No, does not beat a production 8C.
    No, does not beat a Brera in the way it looks.
    No, does not beat something done 40 years ago.
    NO, does not even beat a 164 TURBO.

    SO this thing (i don’t want to call it car), it could be anything, but not an ALFA…

    Fact is that is not been designed, by some American or Korean folks, as a try out…
    but it has been penned by the resurrected Bertone, historic italian (once) firm, and although this styling center may be full of Americans (overvalued) and Koreans; this does not justify the mess with such a brand…

    Now you would start to wonder, ok Max; got the point, by way in this post…

    well as…SUICIDE can be good edition…there is not better place for this bunch of people who keep messing around with completely non sense ideas…

    Conclusion 1: when i looked at the back of this things i have just laughed…

    Conclusion 2: one day maybe we will realized that: how for the economy, destroyed by so many MBA schools by putting out in the market so many morons;
    car design could be simply destroyed by design schools putting out so many fool…

    Conclusion 3: Let’s hope that Pininfarina and Italdesign can produce something better…
    otherwise we are going to have a collective SUICIDE…

    p.s.:there has been a lot of speculation lately about Alfa Romeo (FIAT management)…
    “Should we sell” “Should we keep” “Should we go to US”…etc, etc…
    I am just thinking what will look Alfa Romeo as a brand under the VW portfolio…

  9. flo says:

    Well, according to Thomas Saelzle (former Fiat now Hyundai) its the first concept car developed under helm of Mike Robinson…

    Other blogs still quote Castriota as responsible.
    I guess one would have to ask Bertone to find out the truth…

  10. flo says:

    And bertone says:

    […] The designers, led by Mike Robinson, have drawn inspiration from the wings of this predator to invent the spectacular door opening mechanisms, and from the hawks’ facial markings to project the traditional Alfa family feeling into the next era of design. […]

  11. Drew says:

    Hey Flo,

    Thanks for the heads up. The post has been amended to show Mike Robinson as the lead designer.



  12. Keith says:

    I’m interested in classic cars and quite a few of my favourites are made by Bertone. I stumbled upon this page by accident but I just have to comment on this.

    I think you are overreacting. The cars that are shown here as reference don’t seem too similar at all. There are just some details here and there that seem a bit close if you want to see it that way…

    From viewing these pictures and some other ones found on the Internet it seems that the typical Alfa Romeo style is well kept in the front. View from the side is very stylish. I like how all those lines on the side supplement each other so that the overall view seems kind of fluent and graceful. I also found a picture that has a view from the top and it looks great.
    So far so good. But why the main colour has to be grey? They must change it to red! Yellow and orange would also do fine but please God, just don’t let it all turn to grey! 🙂

    The only thing I don’t like is the back. It seems like it’s broken to pieces! Well… maybe someone would call that innovative. 😉

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