Stola, a firm that sells its skills in body-design and building to a number of major manufacturers, has for some time used the Turin show to exhibit one-off design studies. This year it called on past master Marcello Gandini, who shaped the Lamborghini Miura among other cars, and he came up with the S81, a version of his classic Lancia Stratos of the 1980s for the new millennium. Tight, compact and fluorescent orange, it was as notable for its unusual interior, with seats that supported the legs down to the pedals (a feature also shown on the F100r) as it was for its exterior.
The third interesting concept came from Ford's Turin styling studio, Ghia. It was an open-topped two-seat version of the popular Ka minicar, and it looked good enough to go into production tomorrow. Unfortunately there were no Ford executives on hand to ask about the possibilities, for Ford, like Nissan, Toyota and Honda, were not present in Turin. There is evidently an undercurrent of feeling among some manufacturers that the Turin show, held in what is effectively Fiat's company town, and in Fiat's building, is too dominated by the Italian giant.
Surprisingly, Fiat has a relatively — in view of its size and local importance — small stand at the show. It's nothing compared to the vast areas taken over by the Big Three in their hometown show in Detroit; one wonders what would be the reaction at the North American INTERNATIONAL Automobile Show if the foreigners dropped out because the locals dominate the proceedings?
There were new cars making their public debut in Turin — Alfa Romeo offered a pre-launch look at its small 147 sedan, set for the market in the fall, while Korea's Hyundai had a true world premiere for its four and five-door compact, the Elantra. Land Rover showed its new Crew Cab Defender, while Mercedes put the new C-Class on public show for the first time. But with some of the world's biggest companies not prepared to play in Fiat's backyard, the Turin show is a shadow of its former self.