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These Five Influential Cars From Around The World Have Italian Roots
In the last century, Italy has been the place where some of the most influential automotive designs were born. Most of these became legendary sportscars manufactured domestically but some found success in other countries around the globe.

These Five Influential Cars From Around The World Have Italian Roots

BMW Isetta 250BMW Isetta 250BMW Isetta 300VAZ-2101UK-Spec Lada Riva, a 2101 EvolutionFiat 124VW Golf Mk IVW Golf Mk IVW Golf Mk I GTIBMW M1BMW M1BMW M1 ProcarDMC DeLoreanDMC DeLoreanDMC DeLorean
After the Second World War, the country rose from the ashes driven by its thieving industry. Among the most successful was the automotive sector that was producing some of the most beautiful cars around.

In the decades that followed, Italian engineers and designers would not just continue to build exquisite cars but innovate in terms of practicality and affordability which made the resulting concepts appealing in foreign markets.

Whether they were built or just drawn up in Italy, some of these designs resulted in pioneering vehicles that would become extremely popular outside of Italy, like the five models below.

BMW Isetta
Although it wasn’t the first of its kind, the Isetta managed to become the most influential microcar of all time and one of the best-selling cars of its era in Europe.

The work of young aeronautical engineers Ermenegildo Preti and Pierluigi Raggi, this bubble-shaped two-seater was originally built by Iso Autoveicoli in 1953 using a 236 cc (14.4 cu in) engine taken from one of their motorcycles.

While it wasn’t hugely popular in Italy, it became one of Germany’s most sought-after vehicles after BMW purchased the license from Iso owner Renzo Rivolta in 1955. It helped the Bavarians stay afloat throughout difficult financial times and was also built in France, Spain, the UK, Argentina, or Brazil.

VAZ/Lada 2101
Starting with the late 1960s,  this affordable Russian-built car became surprisingly popular in many countries across the world. However, it didn’t originate in Russia but was designed in Italy where it was known as the Fiat 124. The Soviet government cut a deal with Fiat to produce the car in the USSR, and built a factory from scratch for it.

The Fiat 124 was introduced in 1966 by being parachuted from a plane as a publicity stunt, it was an inexpensive and reliable family car that earned European Car of the Year honors a year later.

Like Iso did with the Isetta, Fiat sold the licensing of the model to several foreign manufacturers, including to the Ministry of the Automotive Industry of the USSR. Called VAZ 2101, it was initially modified for increased reliability on the contry's poor roads and continuously improved throughout the years, which resulted in various derivatives. It received the nickname "Edinicika" (a diminutive for unit) and, in the late '80s, the "Kopeyka"(after the smallest Russian coin) for its afordability, it was produced from April 1970 until April 2012, and was exported into several markets under the Lada brand. Its Russian name was Zhiguli, after a range of wooded mountains located on the right bank of the Volga river.

VW Golf Mk I
One of the most notorious hatchbacks of all time, the Volkswagen Golf proved to be the perfect successor for the Beetle and paved the way for the German carmaker’s most successful nameplate.

Although it was never built in Italy, some of the many prototypes that led to the final production Mk I was the work of Italian design studios. One of the earliest, codenamed EA41 was made by Pininfarina whereas the final concept (EA337) was sketched by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign.

The famous designer implemented all the modifications required by the development team and the bodywork of the car that hit the streets in 1974 is entirely his creation.

With approximately 6.8 million units produced, the first generation Golf became one of the most popular cars in the world and one of the first truly global models.

A milestone in the history of BMW, the M1 was the first mid-engine sports car developed by the carmaker. It was also the first model developed from the ground up by its motorsport division.

During the late 1970s, the Bavarians wanted to build a Group-5 race car capable of beating arch-rival Porsche and chose to go to Italy for help. They contracted Lamborghini to develop the chassis and bodywork and although the collaboration ended shortly before the car’s introduction in 1978, several early units were assembled in Turin.

The chassis was the work of Gianpaolo Dallara and the body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro taking inspiration from the 1972 BMW Turbo concept.

The road-legal version was not a commercial success with only 453 units being produced until 1981 but the racing cars competed in the World Championship for Makes, ran at Le Mans, and served as the base for the Procar Championship.

DMC DeLorean
One of the most famous cult cars ever created, the innovative DMC DeLorean became famous all over the globe after it starred in the Back to the Future trilogy.

It was the result of John DeLorean’s ambition to build a spectacular sportscar. Like BMW did several years earlier, DeLorean commissioned an Italian company to design it and the man responsible for the work was none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro.

The designer created a spectacular structure made from SS304 austenitic stainless steel with gullwing doors, two of the car’s most notable features.

As spectacular as the DeLorean was, it delivered a mediocre driving experience and quickly gained a reputation for poor reliability. This meant that only around 6,500 units were built, which didn’t help the company that filed for bankruptcy just a year after the car was released.


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