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The Italian Legend Steering Car Design for Fiat-Chrysler

Ramaciotti returned to design across brands and markets
Ramaciotti’s design for the Alfa Romeo 4C. Carbon fiber keeps the two-seater at a svelte 1,875 pounds
Ramaciotti’s design for the Alfa Romeo 4C. Carbon fiber keeps the two-seater at a svelte 1,875 poundsCourtesy Alfa Romeo

When Lorenzo Ramaciotti retired as head of famed Italian design studio Pininfarina in 2005, the designer of some of the most iconic Ferraris was looking forward to spending time writing books about cars instead of drawing them. Two years later Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne called, asking him to run the carmaker’s design center and inject more style into the tired hodgepodge of model lineups sold under the Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati brands. Ramaciotti didn’t hesitate. “I was born a few hundred meters from Maserati’s headquarters in Modena, and I’ve always wanted to be part of that world,” he says. Ramaciotti originally planned to stay for less than two years. He’s still there after six.

In 2009, after Fiat took control of Chrysler, Marchionne asked the designer to bring greater flair to brawny American vehicles such as the Dodge Durango and Jeep Wrangler. “We must create a stylish co-habitation of the cultures of the U.S. and Italy,” says Ramaciotti, 65, speaking from the former machine shop in Fiat’s sprawling Mirafiori factory in Turin where he oversees about 300 designers. A lifelong auto buff, Ramaciotti visits Chrysler’s headquarters near Detroit for about a week each month to work with the American automaker’s design team.