Luigi Colani, one of the most radical designers of all time has died at the age of 91 in Karlsruhe. Here we celebrate his designs based on cars such as Lada and Trabant.
Luigi Colani was born in 1928 in Berlin, Germany as Lutz Colani to a Swiss father and Polish mother. After the Second World War he attended courses related to aerodynamism at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris. In the early 1950s, he created his first automotive designs. In 1962 his Colani GT, a Beetle-based open-top, plastic-bodied two-seater went into production, though only less than 300 were built. In 1970 he set up his own design school in Germany. In the early 1980s, he felt that he is no longer appreciated in Europe so he moved to Japan. Later he lived in China.
Colani worked on Eastern Bloc cars twice. In 1987 he built the Gorbi, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader who initiated the process which led to the demolition of the Iron Curtain. The Gorbi was based on a Lada Niva, but it featured a plastic body in true Colani-style, so it resembled more a lunar vehicle rather than a land transport. It was a desert buggy with high road clearance, large wheels and a central mounted engine, capable of 200 hp and a claimed max speed of 200 km/h.
In 2001 Colani presented its Trabant – the car featured a radical new front-end from plastic. It was available to be bolted onto existing Trabants.
A year later a Speedster (!) version was presented, one of the most maniac Trabant specials ever.