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Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift?

CY Foong · Mar 14, 2024 03:40 PM

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 01

The automotive world is mourning the passing of one of the world’s most influential car designers, Marcello Gandini. He was 85 years old and was largely known for designing the world’s first supercar – the Lamborghini Miura.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 02

Some of Gandini's works

Gandini spent 14 years at famed Italian design studio, Bertone where he envisioned some of the sexiest Italian sports cars of the 1970s. Some of his famed works include the Lamborghini Countach, the De Tomaso Pantera, the Lancia Stratos, and the Alfa Romeo Montreal.

The Torino native also designed conventional mass-market cars including the Autobianchi A112, E12 BMW 5 Series, Citroen BX, and the Volkswagen Polo Mk1. He also designed the Renault Magnum truck and an ultralight single-seater helicopter known as the Angel.

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Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 01

However, one of the designs that was claimed to be his work was the Perodua Kancil. It is listed on his Wikipedia page and was even cited by local media but did Gandini have a direct influence on the design of the Malaysian people’s car?

Also read: Perodua Kancil vs Proton Saga – Which is the original Malaysian people’s car?

Taking any job from any clients

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 02

After leaving Bertone in 1980, Signore Gandini went independent, accepting jobs from various carmakers and design studios. He designed early prototypes for the Lamborghini Diablo and a lot of its influences were seen on the quad-pop-up-headlight Cizeta-Moroder V16T which was also designed by him.

Also read: 15 coolest pop-up headlights that flipped our minds – AE86, RX-7, Ferraris, and more!

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 03

The Alfa Romeo 164 Proteo and Mercedes-Benz F200 Imagination were among the 1990s concepts realised by Stola

In the 1990s, Gandini was associated with Stola, an Italian automotive company known for producing concept cars and acting as a consultant for the industry. Stola was on a roll during that decade, accepting jobs not just from Italian makers like Alfa Romeo and Fiat but also from Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 04

Just like its big brother, Proton, Perodua didn’t want to completely rely on its technical partner, Daihatsu. The first Kancil was a rebadged Daihatsu Mira and nothing more but that combination of unbeatable price and general reliability made it a huge hit among Malaysians.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 05

Three years after the Kancil was launched, Perodua planned to introduce an updated model. Through British automotive consultants, Hawtal Whiting Inc, P2 was introduced to Stola to assist in engineering and various prototype stages.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 06

Fioravanti's Kancil design proposal (Credit: Studio Torino)

Perodua also asked Stola to propose the design of the updated Kancil both inside and out which was a first for the Italian firm. So, it opened a competition between Porsche Engineering, Leonardo Fioravanti, who designed the Ferrari Testarossa and Ferrari 348 at Pininfarina, and Gandini.

Also read: 8 famous car designers and their ugliest creations

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 07

Credit: Studio Torino

Ultimately, Gandini’s proposal won over the Perodua directors and a life-size clay mock-up of the Italian-designed Kancil was made. The mock-up’s design looked vastly different from Gandini’s initial proposal.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 08

Gandini's initial proposal (top) and the final mock-up (below)
(Credit: Studio Torino)

What was initially sketched out as a 5-door mini-MPV became a 3-door hatchback that kind of resembled a Lancia Y with the wraparound rear window. Up front, Gandini’s mock-up had the T-shaped front grille design which would eventually become a signature Perodua element for the Kembara, Kelisa, and Kenari.

Also read: The Perodua Kelisa is proof that fun can come from the most unexpected packages

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 09

Gandini's other proposed Kancil models (Credit: Studio Torino)

Gandini also showcased a few more scale model design proposals which had a tall appearance of the mini-MPV design of the initial sketches. At the same time, Perodua brought in a small team of designers to Rivoli, Italy where Stola is headquartered to take part in a design course led by Luciano Bove from the IAAD Design Institute in Turin.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 10

Perodua designers and Stola representatives posing at the IAAD Design Institute (Credit: Studio Torino)

Unfortunately, Gandini’s design never materialised into production as Malaysia faced an economic slowdown, no thanks to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997. The next year, Perodua terminated its efforts with Stola with the design work being 70% complete.

The bug-eyed Kancil

8 years after the Kancil's initial launch and 2 minor facelifts later, the extensively restyled Kancil was introduced in September 2002. The bug-eyed Kancil was designed by Perodua’s in-house design team and Gandini did not seem to be involved.

Also read: You've just missed your shot at buying this mint 2006 Perodua Kancil 850 EZi on CARSOME

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 11

Perodua's 2000 Kancil design proposal (Credit: Studio Torino)

Still, a design study of what potentially became the Kancil 'Belalang' resembled that of Gandini's first mock-up design. According to Studio Torino, which kept extensive historical information of Stola, Perodua returned to the Italian firm in 2000 for consultation of its upcoming Kancil replacement.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 12

Top photo credit: Studio Torino

Besides presenting a mock-up of the exterior, P2 also showed the interior which featured circular air vents and an instrument binnacle located in the middle. These design elements would be carried over into the massively restyled Kancil in 2002.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 13

Credit: Studio Torino

Though Perodua went to an Italian firm and a famed designer for consultation, in the end, the final product was a Malaysian project as a whole. You might consider the Kancil to be the second car designed by Malaysians after the Proton Waja.

Also read: This one-of-a-kind Proton Waja MME Edition is a teacher's homage to Proton's R3 division

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 14

The Proton Emas certainly deserves better than this

Gandini’s role in the restyling of the Kancil was minor but it’s not exactly right to put his name as the designer behind the popular entry-level car.

After all, the reworked Kancil looked entirely different from his design proposals and credit should be given to our local designers instead. Besides, he mostly served as a consultant and guided P2's design team, unlike Giorgetto Giugiaro who was hired to design the Proton Emas Concept.

Also read: Is the Proton EMAS a wasted golden opportunity?

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 15

Maybe it’s wrong to end this article with Giugiaro’s name. After all, the man rejected Gandini’s application when the former was at Bertone. Had Giugiaro decided not to go to Ghia, we may never have seen the likes of the Miura, Stratos, and Countach ever.

Did Marcello Gandini really help design the Perodua Kancil facelift? 16

But it’s fine if we do not acknowledge Gandini’s role in the Kancil's design. The legendary designer has drawn up some truly timeless machines and his time consulting for Perodua was just a blip in a career that spanned at least 50 years.

Arrivederci e grazie, Signore Gandini.

Also read: The father of the modern supercar; design supremo Marcello Gandini passes away aged 85

CY Foong

Writer

Traded advertising for a career that fits his passion for cars. Enjoys spotting cars during his free time and has a soft spot for Japanese Kei cars but drives a thirsty manual sedan.

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