Times are tough for custom coach builders and designers. The German coach builder Karmann and Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design firm, have both recently reorganized.
To show that it is still flourishing and ready for work, Stile Bertone is showing off a new concept by its design director, Jason Castriota, who is known for his work on the Ferrari P4/5 while he was at Pininfarina. Built on the chassis and running gear of a Ferrari Enzo, the P4/5 was a one-of-a-kind car, commissioned by James Glickenhaus, an investment manager, film producer and Ferrari collector from Westchester County.
The Bertone Mantide has a more pedestrian platform, though perhaps only slightly. It is built on the mechanicals of a Corvette ZR1, but Mr. Castriota’s car shows no similarity to the Detroit body. It’s a sophisticated design that takes a lot of visual sorting out. The shape is complex and blends a wing and teardrop together. It appears to have a folded and rolled skin. There are vents everywhere, giving it overtones of a stealth fighter, enhanced by its triangular rear thrust frame, like a jet’s afterburner.
Bertone said the Mantide is more aerodynamic than the Corvette, with a lower coefficient of drag and considerably more downforce.
Mr Castriota showed his latest creation at the Shanghai auto show earlier this month. Teaser images have been appearing on the company’s Web site and will track the car on the show circuit.
Mr. Castriota chose the Corvette for the Mantide as an intentional gesture of support for General Motors in its time of crisis, although Bertone’s financial hopes are more closely tied to working for the Chinese industry than the American one. The Mantide’s price tag? Just shy of $2 million.
Who will buy the car? “The project has an anonymous benefactor, but it is in fact for sale either as a singular example, or with the possibility of building an extremely limited series,” Mr. Castriota said in an e-mail message. Bertone might build three or five of the cars, he said. “Though we would not rule out producing as many as 10.”
He added: “At the moment there is considerable interest around the world as we have been contacted by potential clients in Asia, Europe and America.”