Gio Ponti Linea Diamante, 2018

This year’s Grand Basel has come up with a spectacular world premiere. For the first time in history, the Linea Diamante will be on display – no less than 65 years after it was first designed by architect and industrial designer Gio Ponti.

The story behind the car is that it was the right idea, but at the wrong time. Gio Ponti, who was born in 1891 and passed away in 1979, was responsible for coming up with numerous iconic pieces of architecture and designs and in 1928 also co-founded the influential Domus magazine, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and supporting Grand Basel as a cultural partner. In 1953, the Milan native set about revolutionising the world of automotive design. He found the tear-shaped car design that was popular at the time to be old-fashioned and so worked together with his colleague Alberto Rosselli to design a car body, the likes of which the world had never seen. It boasted a geometric and simple design made up of flat sheet metal and large windows. He named the concept the Linea Diamante, i.e. diamond-shaped line.

The exterior was not only visually appealing, it also had its advantages: more daylight and more space in a smaller area. Ponti also worked in collaboration with tyre manufacturer Pirelli to develop yet another innovative feature: a rubber bumper that protected the front and the back of the car along with additional spring-based bumpers.

Ponti considered the Alfa Romeo 1900 Berlinetta to be the ideal technological basis for his vehicle. He spoke with Carrozzeria Touring about the car and even talked to Fiat later about the project for a subcompact model. Despite this, the design was ultimately rejected, as it was seen as being too radical and not suitable for the masses.

Two decades later, Ponti’s idea was proved correct, as many cars were then constructed in a design similar to the one he developed. The Linea Diamante was, however, consigned to the past and there was no evidence of its existence, except for a few 1:10 models. That is, up until now! The idea to recognise the genius of the car’s inventor was realised to coincide with Grand Basel.