There are no shortage of beautiful American-made cars, but I believe that when Americans and Italians combine their talents to build a car, the results are truly magic. There are numerous examples from history such as the Hudson Italia, an American car that wore a body designed by Carrozzeria Touring. Another example is the DeTomaso Mangusta and the Pantera, designed by Ghia and powered by Ford V8 engines. Though they were not hugely successful, the Stutz Blackhawk and the Chrysler TC by Maserati also paired American powertrains with Italian-designed bodies.
At the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, I discovered another car that followed the “American powertrain + Italian design” formula. Designated as a 1969 Farago CF428 coupe, this car was a one-off prototype created by Paul Farago and Sergio Coggiola, formerly of Ghia. Coggiola and Farago were two designers who formed Carrozzeria Coggiola in 1969.
Their first project was from none other than John DeLorean, who was at the time head of the highly successful Pontiac division over at General Motors. DeLorean wanted a concept car that would grab attention for Pontiac, something exciting that could be used to promote the brand. A 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix with a 428 cubic inch V8 was appropriated for the project.
Though it maintains its Pontiac drivetrain and chassis, the resulting coupe is a low-slung, wedge-shaped car that looks like a more refined, sophisticated Pontiac that just spent a semester studying abroad. The extreme angle of the windshield and seamless integration of the roof into the rear deck reminds me of the Ford Mustang Mach I with the Sportsroof body style. Though the sheet metal has been changed dramatically from a Grand Prix, the car retains its Pontiac door handles, tail lights, and interior.
The car was displayed at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance by its owner Frank Campanale of Michigan, who is a relative of Farago. The car captured the 3rd Place win in its category of “American Dream Cars of the 1960s,” a well-deserved honor.
After this project, Paul Farago went on to work with Virgil Exener from Chrysler on the Stutz Blackhawk, which also used a Pontiac drivetrain. He also worked on the Maserati Ghibli, which bears a stunning resemblance with its long hood and short deck.
This car never made it into production, but I find it fascinating to see what a 1970s collaboration between Pontiac and Italian designers would have looked like.