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1963 Alfa Romeo 2600 Cabriolet 'Studionove' by Boneschi

This car came from one of Italy’s lesser-known coachbuilders, Boneschi, which had been set up in 1919 by Giovanni Boneschi. From a base in Padova, the carrozzeria made unique limousine bodies in its early years and rebodied Fiat 1100s, Lancia Aprilias, and Alfa Romeo 1900s in post-war years, plus novelty advertising vehicles.

Then in 1960, Boneschi teamed up with a designer called Rodolfo Bonetto. This ex-jazz drummer and self-taught stylist had some very firm design ideas. He was drawn by straight lines, typified in the 1961 Lincoln Continental car design. In his design language, he called this linea tesa (which can be translated as ‘razor edge’).

He was convinced that the swoopy car designs presented at the time as “aerodynamic” were nothing of the sort and that his sharp-edged approach was equally valid. Boneschi was persuaded to build a whole series of cars to Bonetto’s linea tesa process from 1960 onwards. These would include special bodies based on the Fiat 1500 S, Fiat 2100, Lancia Flaminia (badged Amalfi), Osca 1600 GT (Swift), and even Maserati 3500 (Tight).

The Studionove was based on the then-new Alfa Romeo 2600, launched in March 1962. We’re looking at the ninth (and final) of these razor-edge designs, which is why it had the name ‘Studionove’ (or ninth study) emblazoned on its flanks. Incidentally, Boneschi never made public Bonetto’s seventh and eighth designs – perhaps they were too controversial to be shown.

Although Alfa offered its own 2600 Spider (designed by Carrozzeria Touring), Boneschi still thought it worthwhile to propose its own. The car received its public debut at the Turin Show in October 1963. It took delivery of chassis number 192742 on 6 September 1963 and had finished it by 26 October 1963 – a remarkable achievement considering it took a reported 3570 hours’ worth of work.

The design was undoubtedly different. Its straight lines were – almost literally – cutting edge, but in general, it looked boxy and heavy. It suffered from over-chroming, and its rigidly squared-off rear wheel arches looked odd, considering its front arches were semi-circular. Perhaps Studionove’s poor reception was one reason why the ‘folder paper’ school of design, promulgated by Giugiaro in the 1970s, took so long to get off the ground. If only the car’s proportions and detailing were better resolved, we might look back on this as the progenitor of a new styling trend.

As it was, Bonetto returned to industrial design, making a name for himself with avant-garde furniture. For its part, Boneschi decided to focus its efforts on military vehicles, mobile TV studios, and vans before being swallowed by rival Savio in 1995. Luckily the Studionove still exists today – not that you’d imagine an Alfa 2600 chassis lurks underneath.

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