by Wallace Wyss –
The most celebrated cars at many of the fanciest concours is the one-off car, like the Porsche Tapiro. Especially the running one that was sold off and has been restored. It’s not easy to restore a one-off because many of the parts were hand made for just that car.
One I am waiting to see restored is the Ital Design Porsche Tapiro of 1970. It is one of Giugiaro’s greatest designs, on a Porsche 914-6 chassis.
It had the gullwing doors that came later in the De Lorean but more than that it made the 914 beautiful and we know the 914 is a good practical car but has all the charm of a toaster or Mixmaster.
I think I saw the Porsche Tapiro for the first time at Auto Expo which was a show promoted by two local Los Angeles men, Bob Topaz and Ric McBride, that for a while rivaled the LA Auto Show.
The Porsche Tapiro was also at the Turin Auto Show in 1970, where it did a lot in establishing Giorgetto Giugiaro’s bona fides as a designer all on his own, free from the constraints of management that had been imposed on him when he had been at Bertone and Ghia.
What I like about the design is that, though Giorgetto Giugiaro has been known for the introduction of the “folded paper” era of car design, as opposed to the rounded curves of the’60s, this one still has some curves.
And it sort of goes along with other sports cars he designed at the time including Lotus Esprit, De Lorean DMC 12, Maserati Merak, Maserati Bora and Quattroporte, BMW M1, etc. etc.). I would say that many automakers around the world, if not outright hiring Giugiaro, borrowed heavily on his new direction.
Porsche was not about to go into production on it. For one thing the 914 was selling well without a svelte design and Porsche still winced when reminded of the Carrera Abarth GT/L where they had contracted for Zagato to build the car designed by Scaglione for a 356B platform only to find it was farmed out to lesser carrozzerias.
In America, we are obliged to accept the ruling that we can’t buy a prototype off the stage. Won’t meet EPA/DOT yadda yadda. And most of us believe that. But in other countries, they take out their checkbook and make an offer and since Giugiaro was hastening to go on to his next prototype he sold it to a wealthy Spanish industrialist who used the car as a daily driver.
Now comes the sad part. There was a dispute between this bigwig and his workers and somehow the car got torched.
The car was recovered. There is a classic picture of the senior Giugiaro and his son, Fabrizio, at their Ital Design facility looking at the torched shell, as if it was some critter what washed up on the beach and they were trying to figure out its species.
When I last researched it, it wasn’t restored. And I don’t think the Giugiaros, who sold Ital Design to VW, are all that interested in restoring it. You would not only have to make all new body panels but if the heat of the fire torqued the chassis out of shape, it would be even more formidable a project.
I covered this car in one of my “Incredible Barn Finds” series of books, as yet another example of how concept cars get away sometimes, out into an enthusiast’s hands where we can see them on the road. Unfortunately for this one, it didn’t make it too far down the road before disaster struck….
Let us know what you think in the Comments.
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss’ barn find books can be bought straight from the publisher by calling (715) 381 9755.
Below is a slide show with more images of the Porsche Tapiro.