From Torino to Berlin
What would you say, if someday someone called you and asked: what about travelling from Torino to Berlin in a dream car by Giugiaro? Well, I said wow, yes!
The car, a handmade one-off called Brivido, has been on show at Geneva 2012 and simply happens to be the Designer of the Century's last oeuvre. That is, the last car Giorgetto Giugiaro personally de-signed before selling the whole of its Italdesign to Audi in summer 2015.
The journey was part of the cultural programme TorinoincontraBerlino (Turin meets Berlin), held in the capital city of the italian coachbuilders and therefore arguably sponsored by Italdesign. In fact, there is more to the trip than sheer driving pleasure: we take the 400HP hybrid headturner to challenging historical sites – from the ruins of the Arena in Verona to those of the Nazi congress hall in Nuremberg, from Rovereto, home to italian Futurism to Dessau, home to the German Bauhaus.
The crew counts ten people and four cars: Giosuè Boetto Cohen of Corriere della Sera and myself share the thrill of driving "Brivido". Umberto Giorio and Christian Bolognesi, PR officers at Italdesign Giugiaro, navigate in "SQ5," the photographer follows in "Giubileo" (Turiner would know what that means, I'd rather not tell you), the camera crew in "Mosca Bianca" (white fly) – at whose wheel is Remo – who knows every bit and piece of Brivido, and can fix it just in case.
The journey is recounted here in words and images. I'd like to start with a photo of the crew just before leaving the Italdesign Giugiaro premises in Moncalieri, on a foggy October 7th, 2015. Fourth from right is Walter de Silva, the newly appointed president of IDG.
Fancy any motion pictures? Click on the images for a Youtube recap of each stage.
Torino to Verona
A nice surprise: the dream drives like an every day car. Push Start, press D, and so on: first it hybrids quietly, then with a roar its starts running. But the view that the Brivido presents to you is galactic, the road runs around its windows, and the drive looks like a video game. Even Turin, with its beastly traffic, in this autumn morning mist seems almost virtual. How unreal everything appears, the halls of the Violin Museum, dedicated to the magic of the perfect shape, unchanged for over three hundred years. The violin is the only instrument with a soul, the museum tells us. And I think, but come on, what about the car? A thousand forms with a thousand ideas, always in motion. The skill of Stradivari is never to be discussed, but the genius of Giugiaro is something else. What is this? How fast does it go? How much does it cost? Amazement amuses us: for those who see us as Martians. And when we see each other in pictures, under the bright flashing lights of people in the night blue sky of the Arena, we almost start believing in this too.
Verona to Innsbruck
Streaking through the Brennero, you immediately sense the adventure. A thousand stories have passed through the Adige Valley, and now have become ours. We leave behind us on the left the Garda, the Valpolicella on the right and in a heartbeat find ourselves in Rovereto. An owl of a town apparently in all shapes and colours, which hands us stories of war: from the big one, the first and tragic war, to the artistic fight, topped by the strafing futurist machine gun touch by Depero. We discover the Mart, a solemn tribute to modern and contemporary architecture, designed by Mario Botta. Deep inside thoughts, we grab a quick lunch, then back on the pass with a skyline like a postcard. Meanwhile, even the gearbox and the air conditioner grant us futurist tantrums. We stop for a reset – lets not forget that this is an experimental prototype! The border still remains, a crossroads of cultures reigned by Heidi’s overwhelming enthusiasm foru our car. Incredible: We're stuck between Austria and Italy with a Florida truck driver driving a German semi-trailer. Paid tribute to her, we head towards Innsbruck. And here we go, damn it, the first German megacloud! Hopefully the Italian Brivido will sweep it away!
Innsbruck to Ingolstadt
Morning flash. Judging by the billion of Asian tourists we start to believe that Innsbruck is in China – or perhaps vice versa. A minute later, a thousand Spanish speak to us in a rusty English. Everyone wants the car, or us, or us and the car. A married couple exits the Golden Loggia. Finally real Austrians, wearing real Trachten clothes! They leave the wedding parade and sit down in the car for a unique photo souvenir. Applauses and hails in all languages, "Khrandioze Khonfuzion", better escape from here. On the wavy Garmisch mountain slopes cows smile at us as the crowds follow: "I saw you this morning in the city", says Kurt, who approaches us in Mercedes. Unique, impassive is the bear's rampant bronze faced sign that indicates Bavarians the Autobahn to Berlin. Here the Brivido expresses all its teutonic power, at times magically electrifying. On the body work, iridescent clouds play with reflections of the Allianz Arena with Holledau's endless fields of beer. In a minute we're in Ingolstadt, home of Mamma Audi. And here we meet Thomas, who heads the spectacular Audi museum mobile, exclaiming in Italian: "Nice car!
Ingolstadt to Dresden
We start early, as daily commuters, and we launch ourselves on a spectacular Autobahn – as in the Langhe, but on three lanes. It's Saturday and the heart of Nuremberg it seems like a grim fairy tale: medieval walls, Gothic churches, houses in Fachwerk style, cobblestone streets. Completely rebuilt, piece by piece. In the market square we see pumpkins in all shapes, and spicy Lebkuchen. The Brivido steals a theatrical folk dance show. A few from Bilbao make us smile, while tasting their "Skewer Companion" sausages. The area have a heavy legacy with Nazism, trivialised by the convenient usage of its vestiges. The Saal of the trial is still in use as such, in the would-be convention hall the Philharmonics have their rehearsals, in the field of gatherings people play football, stopping in front of its stands are Turkish trucks. We dare drive by with the Brivido, but the feeling is staggering. In our time capsule, bright, sleek and fast, we feel we come from outer time. We head relaxed and smoothly towards the East. Yesterday it was Ground Zero, Dresden today is a sparkling jewel, baroque in the dark of night. With the Frauenkirche and the river, it reminds us of a mini Turin.
Dresden to Berlin
Dresden, the city with two faces. On the one hand the aristocratical architecture, baroque and sumptuous, on the other hand that of the party, flat and monumental. The cocktail is intoxicating, but it tastes somewhat undefined. Even the people are not that easy to decipher: half shy, half suspicious, peering warily towards the mysterious car. Before photographing they ask, may we? Before asking they present themselves: Good morning … Only the kids are like everywhere else: jumping merrily around the car and declare explicitly: that's cool! And they are right, the Brivido slips by beautifully around everything and everyone, then steers itself on the highway to Berlin. Pit Stop in Dessau for a tribute to the Bauhaus of Walter Gropius, a symbol of design Made in Germany. Then the last chance to check out our answer to the most frequently asked question. How fast does it go? is quickly answered: up to 200 Brivido feels perfect, at just 3500 rpm. She would have gone willingly faster, but it would be crazy to take unnecessary risks. To reward her, we arrive in Berlin through the Avus - Today a highway, yesterday a famous racetrack. We did it, and that’s no bad performance for a one-off concept car!
Berlin is everything and more. Our day starts in Rocher style, with a private reception by the Italian Ambassador. The residence, in pink stucco and travertine, is a slice of candied Rome on a Teutonic porcelain plate. At the brand new Total skyscraper the Brivido has more fun - parked side by side a Hudson a hundred years her peer. Right here, today, the automobile candidates to become part of UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage. Wheels crossed! For lunch, a little change of scenery. In front of the Curry 36 – Berliner style fast food – the Brivido and the Crew Cars seem straight out of a movie. Cut, and on the Ritz Carlton’s velour sofas we meet Anna and Arnfried. She is sent from Bild am Sonntag and guides us to discover the capital, and he the lucky reader, who views Berlin for the first time in fifty years. From our windows filters an exhilarating and touching panorama: the University of Einstein and the Philharmonic of von Karajan, Hitler's bunker and Merkel’s residence. The journey ends at the end of the Berlin wall, underneath Axel Springer’s anodised palace. Stop, game over. No kidding, let’s do it again!