These five design dynasties wrote automotive history

Do you ever ask yourself what the modern car industry would look like if it weren't for certain cars? Alas, it's easy to forget that cars are born of designers and, more often than not, their lineage – just think where we'd be without these five design dynasties...

The Bugattis

Ettore Bugatti’s creations were destined to be beautiful, as he was born into a family of artists. Not only were his creations great to look at, though, they were innovative and extremely successful, racking up some 410 victories before 1925 and establishing him as one of the forefathers of modern automobile engineering. Ettore’s son Jean clearly inherited the creative gene, his first design being the Type 57 – today considered one of the most collectable in the world. We wonder what the father and son duo would make of the company today…

The Bertones

Utter the words Miura, Countach or Stratos, and you’re sure to raise the eager ear of any enthusiast. But ‘Nuccio’ Bertone’s distinctive 70s poster-cars certainly weren’t the first to bear the family name, nor the last. The Turinese coachbuilder can trace its history right back to 1912, when Giovanni Bertone was reaping praise for his beautifully crafted horse-drawn carriages. Sadly, the family company was declared bankrupt and ceased trading in early 2014, though its legacy will most certainly live on.  

The Pininfarinas

 

Most famous for its enduring and loyal partnership with Ferrari, the Pininfarina family is, naturally, held in the heart of every Italian enthusiast. The patriarch Battista’s work in the 30s and 40s laid the foundations, before son Sergio joined the ranks, quickly cementing the family name in the annals with several seminal Ferrari designs. 

Thanks to the enterprising work of Sergio’s son Andrea – who was tragically killed in 2008, aged just 51 – today the company is flourishing in the safe hands of Paolo, another of Sergio’s children. Suffice to say, without the Pininfarinas, the Italian car industry would be a very different place. 

The Porsches

Though the family itself was fraught with feuds, controversy and tension, products bearing the Porsche name ­– be it cars, watches or, dare we say it, domestic appliances ­– have always, and most probably always will, represent the pinnacle of German engineering. 

Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the ‘father of the 911’, sadly died in 2012, but Ferdinand Piëch, the grandson of visionary founder Ferdinand Porsche, continues the family legacy, retaining a small but significant stake in the company.

The Zagatos

Utilising skills learnt in the aviation industry, Ugo Zagato was quick to capitalise on the burgeoning demand for personal transport following World War I. Always innovative, Zagato’s radical approach to automotive design has filtered down through two generations, resulting in not only some of the most famous cars ever built, but unique design quirks that have come to symbolise the Milanese design house – think ‘double bubble’ and you’re halfway there. The brothers Elio and Gianni have even been widely hailed as the fathers of the Gran Turismo. Today, Ugo’s grandson Andrea fronts the company with his wife Marella, herself the granddaughter of Renzo Rivolta – some things really do run in the family…