Concepts and prototypes : Bertone Jaguar proposals

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Bertone Jaguar Concepts: Coventry’s Italian restyle

British Leyland only ever produced one Bertone-designed model, the Italian-built Innocenti Mini of 1974. However, Bertone had previously produced a couple of Jaguar-based proposals which were not taken up by the company.

It then followed up with the supremely wedgy Ascot in 1977 before turning its attention to more mainstream cars – but Bertone and Jaguar made a welcome return to the motor show scene in 2011 at Geneva. It’s interesting how Bertone started out wanting to make Jaguar more forward-looking before settling on trying to take it back to retro.

Interesting…


1966 Bertone Jaguar FT

In 1966, the Italian Jaguar importer Ferruccio Tarchini commissioned Bertone to build a four-seater coupé for its 1966 Geneva Motor Show stand. Initially, it was planned to distribute this car as a limited production model, but the plan soon fell through after a single car was made. The FT (for Ferruccio Tarchini) pretty much sunk without a trace – until Albion Motorcars in Belgium put one up for sale.

The original Geneva show car is still in the hands of the Tarchini family, and the car on offer was the only ‘series’ car – having been built on a Jaguar 420 chassis and sold to a customer in Spain in 1967. The car remained there until recently, when the car was rediscovered in the corner of a garage.

The BMW-like Jaguar FT (Ferruccio Tarchini) was penned by Marcello Gandini and built on a Jaguar 3.8 S-Type chassis. Dating from 1966, it revived the spirit – if not the style – of the previous decade's XK150-based Bertone Jaguar coupé.
The BMW-like Jaguar FT (Ferruccio Tarchini) was penned by Marcello Gandini and built on a Jaguar 3.8 S-Type chassis. Dating from 1966, it revived the spirit – if not the style – of the previous decade’s XK150-based Bertone Jaguar coupé

1966 Jaguar FT Gallery

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1967 Jaguar Pirana

This extravagant E-Type-based proposal was sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, and appeared at the Earl's Court Motor Show in 1967, but was not taken up by Jaguar. It emergered a few years later, in mildly modified form, as the Lamborghini Espada.
This extravagant E-type-based proposal was sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, and appeared at the Earl’s Court Motor Show in 1967, but was not taken up by Jaguar. It emergered a few years later, in mildly modified form, as the Lamborghini Espada.

It was never intended for production, being manufactured exclusively as a concept for display at the 1967 Earls Court Motor Show. The car was conceived by the Daily Telegraph, which approached Bertone and Jaguar with the idea of building a new concept car – the miracle is that it happened at all.

The result was the Bertone Pirana, a fastback two-seater with striking styling that would find its way into the Lamborghini Espada. It was heavier than the Jaguar E-type, which was no surprise, but it had some innovative features – Triplex supplied special Sundym glass which featured a thick vinyl interlayer which increased flexibility and resistance to penetration, with both the windscreen and rear window (which was hinged at the top to give access to the luggage space) being heated by wires laid in the interlayer.

1967 Bertone Pirana gallery

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Project XJ40

Bertone's submission for the new Jaguar saloon was probably the best of the three proposals put forward by the Italian designers (Pininfarina and Ital Design being the others). Certain elements of the final car can be seen in this mid-1974 study.
Bertone’s submission for the new Jaguar saloon was probably the best of the three proposals put forward by the Italian designers (Pininfarina and Ital Design being the others). Certain elements of the final car can be seen in this mid-1974 study
This is Bertone's second submission for the Project XJ40, dating from 1976. Again, although it was rejected, it appears to have had an undeniable influence on the style of the final car.
This is Bertone’s second submission for the Project XJ40, dating from 1976. Again, although it was rejected, it appears to have had an undeniable influence on the style of the final car

1977 Jaguar Ascot

The Ascot was based on the Jaguar XJ-S, and was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1977. The Ascot featured a full-width grille with the Jaguar leaper at its centre. A lower lip spoiler formed a surface that ran around the front of the car and over each angular front wheelarch.

The rear arches were cut off in signature Gandini style but, unlike the XJ-S it was based upon, the Ascot featured hand-made aluminum body panels, rather than steel, making it lighter. The concept also used a hatchback, like an E-type.

The interior was a contemporary mix of tan leather and brown suede, including neat satchel-inspired storage in each door card. The gauge pack, some auxiliary dials and the T-shaped gear selector are all borrowed from the XJ-S.

Not deterred the previous rebuffs, Bertone presented a further Jaguar proposal in 1977. The Ascot was based on the Jaguar XJ-S, and borrowed heavily fromthe style of Bertone's Ferrari-based 308GT Rainbow from the previous year.
Not deterred the previous rebuffs, Bertone presented a further Jaguar proposal in 1977. The Ascot was based on the Jaguar XJ-S, and borrowed heavily from the style of Bertone’s Ferrari-based 308GT Rainbow from the previous year

1977 Bertone Ascot concept gallery

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2011 Bertone Jaguar B99

Bertone hoped to catapult the leaping cat back to the head of the 2011 Geneva Motor Show news agenda with its B99 concept. At first glance, the new car looks to have thrown out the post-retro styling scheme of the XF and XJ, harking back to the late 20th century, and the X350.

It had heavy XJC styling overtones, the B99 is 4.5m long, hinting at a replacement for the X-Type, from the Italian perspective. Another surprising aspect is that the B99 – so-called because it celebrated the 99th Anniversary of the creation of the Italian styling house – was styled with direction from Ian Callum and input from ex-Rover Designer, Adrian Griffiths.

2011 Bertone B99 gallery

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Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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4 Comments

  1. I remember driving this car in 73/74 when it was modified to include two rear seats (very much a plus 2) and from manual to automatic. It was also repainted in Polaris silver (I think a BMW colour). From the recent photographs and Ebay description last year, it looks like it has been converted back to manual.

    At 18 years old at the time, it was quite something to drive a totally unique car down the local high street!

  2. And, now we know from where came the idea for the wood “door cards”, used in the current XJ saloon!!

    . . . the BEAUTIFUL . . . “2011 Bertone Jaguar B99” !!

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