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Sergio Scaglietti dies at 91; molded the bodies of legendary Ferrari cars

Sergio Scaglietti was called Ferrari's 'maestro of aluminum.' He molded the bodies of the 750 Monza, the 250 Testa Rossa, the 250 GTO and the California Spyder. He was renowned for his ability to do his work without blueprints.

December 02, 2011|Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports
  • Sergio Scaglietti molded the original of this 1957 250 Testa Rossa Ferrari.
Sergio Scaglietti molded the original of this 1957 250 Testa Rossa Ferrari. (Scott Williamson / Petersen…)

Sergio Scaglietti, an Italian coachbuilder who crafted some of the world's most elegant sports and racing cars, including a series of landmark Ferraris created in the 1950s and 1960s, died Nov. 20 in Modena, Italy. He was 91.

His death was announced by Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who said in a statement that Scaglietti "created some of the most beautiful cars of our history" and that his name would be "forever connected to the Prancing Horse," the Ferrari emblem. No cause of death was reported.

Sometimes called Ferrari's "maestro of aluminum," Scaglietti molded the bodies of many of the Italian automaker's most fabled cars, including the 750 Monza, the 250 Testa Rossa, the 250 GTO, the California Spyder, the Lusso and the Dino 246. His cars were bought by a glamorous clientele, including director Roberto Rossellini, conductor Herbert von Karajan, the Shah of Iran and King Leopold of Belgium. A model of the Spyder was the teenagers' joy ride of choice in the 1986 movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

In August, Scaglietti's 1957 prototype for the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa brought $16.4 million at auction, believed to be the highest price paid at auction for an automobile.

Born Jan. 9, 1920, in Modena, Scaglietti was the youngest of six children. Most of his brothers became carpenters like their father, but Sergio became an apprentice at a body shop. One of his brothers and a partner later bought the business. It was there that Scaglietti met Enzo Ferrari, who brought one of his cars in to have the mud flap fixed. The two men became close friends as well as business associates.

By the mid-1950s Scaglietti had his own shop, Carrozzeria Scaglietti, with Ferrari as one of his best customers. He was known for his ability to handcraft cars without blueprints, relying strictly on his eye and intuition.

Scaglietti sold his business to Fiat in the late 1960s but continued to manage it for two decades, until his retirement in the late 1980s.

He said he owned one of his own cars only once — a California Spyder he bought as a favor for a friend, who told him it was a good investment, "but I lost $1,000," Scaglietti told the Allentown Morning Call in 2000.

In 2008 Ferrari named a car after its legendary designer: The 612 Scaglietti was a luxurious, four-seat touring car that could be fully customized by buyers and cost upward of $235,000.

His survivors include his wife and two sons.

news.obits@latimes.com

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