Italian luxury jewellery brand Bulgari has been designing exciting things since 1884, which is coincidentally about as long as cars have existed. After 139 years of making timepieces and jewellery, the company decided to try its hand at designing a concept car for the newest Gran Turismo game, and I guess as a collaborative tie-in for a new ‘sporty’ watch design. I don’t really care about the watch, but the car is extremely 1970s and cool as hell.
Called the Bulgari Aluminum, this car is a tiny two-seat sport machine in the vein of a late 1970s Italian Carrozzeria ‘barchetta’ design with some modern flare. This car could easily be an update on an iconic concept from Bertone or Pininfarina, with some obvious influence from the Lancia Stratos Zero concept or the Ferrari Modulo. The former design director of Pininfarina helped pen this car, so that makes sense. Beyond that, I see a bit of the odd 1990s Ferrari Conciso concept in this design, and a bit of the wild Suzuki GSX-R/4 concept, with the exaggerated fender arches. It’s a good look.
Bulgari doesn’t let on exactly what it envisions powering this machine, but it’s obviously a mid-engine design, and the promotional video has some engine sounds dubbed in over the top, so we know it isn’t electric or turbine-powered or whatever. It sounds like a small-displacement V8 to me, but it’s hard to tell with the music playing. Let your imagination run wild, and power it with whatever you want to. It’s a video game car, it doesn’t really matter. Let’s say it’s a 280-horsepower 2-liter V12 running on hydrogen, and it weighs 1700 pounds. Who cares? It can be whatever you want it to. There are paddle shifters, so we’re in the conversation with a dual-clutch gearbox. This would probably make a good track car, you know, in the real world.
The interior is clearly where Bulgari wanted to focus, as it is using the car’s gauge cluster to tie in to its new watch, also called the Bulgari Aluminum. This is an old-school interior design, cribbing from Lotus or Honda S2000 almost, as there’s no infotainment screen, and everything is controlled by simple knobs and buttons. The lone screen is the rear view camera to the driver’s left, which seems an odd place to put it, but I like the idea. The gauge cluster is large and bombastic, as the Bulgari watch is. To the right you have a G-meter, and to the left you have a tach. What more could you ask for?
Apparently Bulgari has been making a watch of this style called Aluminum since 1998, and this is a 25-year throwback to that original design. It’s thick and chunky, I’ll give it that. I’m not sure it’s my thing, but it’s certainly got that Italian flair. Just like the car.
This is a concept car that I really could see coming from a major manufacturer today. Without the Bulgari branding on the nose cone, I would have suspected this from like Hyundai N or maybe Lancia. I hope that more car design heads in this wild direction, as I’d love to see more retro throwbacks to the best—and most unhinged—era of car design, the mid-to-late 1970s.
The result is a timeless design which is unique and undeniably Italian in its innovative conceptual spirit and its expression of style and coolness, transcending all the temporary fashions and short-term trends, to affirm itself as a pure expression of BVLGARI design DNA.
A collaboration between BVLGARI Product Creation Executive Director, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani and Fabio Filippini, known for his contributions as former Design Director of Pinin Farina, was fundamental in the development of its character.
The body design is an essential combination of pure and geometrical shapes, which are symbolic of Italian car design tradition of creativity and character, integrating some original references like the sporty three-spoke steering wheels and walnut dashboards to the glorious era of ‘60s and ‘70s concept cars from Italian ‘Carrozzeria.’
I have always been a sucker for a two-seat runabout with no roof or windshield. That’s a style that will always appeal to me. So when you make one as a concept for a video game to promote your watch, I’m going to gush about it. That’s just how it is. And when you give it 1970s design cues, a minimalist mechanical interior, and aerodisc wheel covers, it’s a slam dunk right into my prefrontal cortex. I am absolutely gaga over this car, and I wish I could drive it every day. I’d even wear that unsightly watch if it meant an opportunity behind the wheel of a real one of these.
The Bulgari Aluminum Gran Turismo watch is available now with a yellow face limited to 500 pieces and a grey face limited to 1200 pieces. They’ll run $US4,800 each, and you have to apply to buy one. Watch buyers will get a download code to get this car in Gran Turismo 7, once it launches in-game in 2024.
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