Rare as Hen’s Teeth #4


Pio Manzini (Manzu to his friends) was Italian to his bones, part of a venerable and artistic Milanese family – but decided to persue his studies at the Hochschule in Germany’s Ulm. This technically-focussed university was perfect for his interests in material science and bending metal into pretty shapes.

The Healey 3000 concept for Pininfarina was his dissertation project: and very interesting it was too. After graduating in 1965 he was snapped up by NSU Motorworks – where he worked on various design studies and prototypes that culminated in the production of the Ro80.

Moving on in 1968 to become adviser to Fiat’s Style Centre, his first fully realised project was to be the Fiat 127, the new front-wheel drive car that was one of a handful of revolutionary ‘people’s cars’ that arose during the period.

The tragedy is that Manzu never saw the project completed. In a horrible irony, he died in his Fiat 500 on his way to the official presentation of the final prototype 127.

Lost to time and circumstance, who knows what wonders Manzu would have brought to our streets…