By Daniel Strohl. Photos courtesy SIVAG
The long and slow collapse of the Bertone coachbuilding corporation appears as though it will come to an end this month as Lilli Bertone, the widow of company scion Nuccio Bertone, has put up for sale the last vestiges of the company, including dozens of concept cars and the rights to the Bertone name itself.
After Nuccio Bertone’s death in 1997, the once Turin-based company - which included both a coachbuilding factory and a design firm - saw a variety of leaders, but ultimate control always rested with Lilli Bertone and her two daughters, Barbara and Marie-Jeanne. The manufacturing side of the company lasted only through the late 2000s before Bertone sold its factory to Fiat, and as Road and Track told the tale last year, that was when Lilli Bertone decided to focus on the styling house, Stile Bertone - first by securing the Bertone brand and trademark from a bankruptcy tribunal, then by attempting to purchase the entire assets of the Bertone Museum.
The tribunal, however, wouldn’t let her buy all 90 cars in the museum. Instead, it let her buy 84 of the cars for $3.4 million and it sent the other six to auction. Those cars - the 1978 Lancia Sibilo, the 1980 Lamborghini Athon, the 1974 Lamborghini Bravo, the 1963 Chevrolet Testudo, the 1967 Lamborghini Marzal, and the 1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero - sold at RM’s Villa D'Este auction in May 2011 for a combined €3,640,000, or about $5.3 million, which went toward Bertone’s debts.
Stile Bertone ultimately ceased operations last year and has now put 79 of those 84 cars up for auction in one lot through the bankruptcy tribunal. Most of the collection, now housed in Milan, consists of concept cars, including the 1991 Bertone Nivola, the 1991 Bertone Emotion, the 1988 Bertone Genesis, the 1986 Citroen Zabrus, the Corvette-based 1985 Bertone Ramarro, the 1972 Citroen Camargue, and the 1969 Autobianchi A112 Runabout. Production cars make up a portion of the collection, though, including such cars as the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Miura, Lamborghini Countach, and Alfa Romeo Giulia SS.
In addition, Stile Bertone has also put up for auction the Bertone name and trademark in a separate lot. The opening bid for the trademark is €3,000,000 (about $3.4 million), while opening bid for the collection of cars is €1,587,200 (about $1.8 million).
According to the bankruptcy tribunal, the cars must be sold in one lot and may not be sold outside of Italy. The latter clause results from the collection’s official distinction as Italian cultural treasure. The Bertone trademark appears not to have the same distinction.
The auction will run online through September 28. For more information, visit SIVAG.com.