The ultimate italian coachbuilder site

Pietro Frua: Mastering the Art of Automotive Elegance

Pietro Frua

Pietro Frua: Early Life and Career Beginnings

Pietro Frua, born on May 2, 1913, in the automotive hub of Turin, Italy, would go on to become one of the most esteemed and influential automotive designers of the 20th century. Raised in a modest family, with his mother Angela working as a tailor and his father Carlo as a Fiat employee, young Pietro was surrounded by the burgeoning automotive industry that would shape his destiny.

Frua’s journey into the world of design commenced when he enrolled at the Scuola Allievi Fiat, embarking on a path that would lead him to become a draftsman. His early education laid the foundation for his future endeavors, and after graduating from the Fiat Cadet School, he quickly found himself at the Farina factories in a drafting role. Little did he know that this would be the starting point of a remarkable career that would leave an indelible mark on the world of automotive design.

By the age of 22, Frua had ascended to the position of Director of Styling at the Stabilimenti Farina, the most important Turin coachbuilder at the time. It was during this time that he first encountered Giovanni Michelotti, who would later become his successor after Frua’s departure from the company due to conflicts with Attilio Farina.

Post-War Challenges and Entrepreneurial Spirit

The aftermath of World War II posed significant challenges for the automotive industry, with car-styling work being scarce. Undeterred, Frua turned his design skills to diverse projects, including children’s cars, electric ovens, kitchen units, and even a monocoque motorscooter. This period of diversification demonstrated Frua’s adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity.

In 1944, as the world emerged from the shadows of war, Pietro Frua founded his own company. Armed with determination and a vision for the future, he purchased a bombed-out factory, assembled a team of 15 workers, and equipped himself to design and build cars. This marked the beginning of Frua’s entrepreneurial journey, and under his guidance, panel beater Sergio Coggiola flourished, later establishing his own body shop.

The Fiat 1100 C Spider

Frua’s inaugural creation for his new firm was a one-off car with spider-type bodywork based on the Fiat 1100 C. The car earned recognition, securing the second prize in its category at the prestigious Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance in 1947. This early success laid the groundwork for Frua’s burgeoning reputation as a designer of distinction.

Rise to Prominence and Collaborations

The pivotal year of 1948 saw Frua making a significant impact at the Turin Motor Show, where he showcased a Lancia Aprilia Giardiniera at his stand. The 1950s witnessed Frua’s focus on studies and realizations based on Fiat platforms, but it was his collaborations with other esteemed brands like Maserati and Lancia that truly set him apart.

Maserati, recognizing Frua’s talent, became one of his early clients. Frua was tasked with styling Maserati’s new 2-litre, 6-cylinder sports car, the A6G. Over the course of seven years, from 1950 to 1957, Frua crafted 19 Spyders and seven coupés in three distinct design series, showcasing his versatility and artistic prowess.

The Maserati A6G Spyder

In a strategic move in 1957, Frua sold his coachbuilding company to Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, with Luigi Segre, Ghia’s director, appointing him head of Ghia Design. This collaboration aimed to leverage the Frua brand without compromising Ghia’s relationship with its primary customer, Fiat. While leading Ghia Design, Frua played a pivotal role in the success of the Renault Floride, a commercial triumph with approximately 117,000 units sold in a decade.

Studio Tecnico Pietro Frua and Global Recognition

Despite the accomplishments at Ghia, disputes over the authorship of the Renault Floride’s design led to Frua’s departure. Undeterred, he founded the Studio Tecnico Pietro Frua, marking a new chapter in his illustrious career.

The 1960s emerged as a prolific period for Frua. While maintaining close ties with Fiat and Maserati, he designed the iconic Maserati Quattroporte and undertook numerous projects for foreign brands. Noteworthy among these was the Volvo P1800, designed by Pelle Petterson under Frua’s attentive eye.

Frua’s influence extended beyond Italy’s borders, with designs for Swiss subsidiary Ghia-Aigle and the establishment of Carrosserie Italsuisse in Geneva by former Ghia-Aigle employee Adriano Guglielmetti. Frua’s touch was evident in the prototypes built by Italsuisse, further solidifying his international reputation.

The Glas 1300 GT Coupé prototype

In 1963, at the age of 50, Frua collaborated with Germany’s Glas, designing the GT Coupé and Cabriolet, along with the V8-powered 2600. These designs, often referred to as “Glaserati” due to their resemblance to Frua’s Maserati creations, continued production until BMW’s acquisition of Glas in 1968.

The 1960s also witnessed Frua’s involvement with AC Cars, producing the Frua-bodied 7-litre AC Frua Spider and coupé. His expertise extended to the Monteverdi High Speed 375S, a sport coupé with a Chrysler engine, showcasing Frua’s ability to collaborate across borders and with various powertrains.

Legacy and Later Years

As the 1970s unfolded, Frua’s presentations became less frequent, but he continued to demonstrate his impeccable taste and craftsmanship. One of his final designs to enter series production was the Maserati Kyalami, a two-door GT unveiled at the 1976 Geneva Motor Show.

The Maserati Kyalami, one of the lastest creations.

In 1982, Pietro Frua faced a personal challenge as he battled cancer. Despite undergoing surgery, his health declined, and he passed away on June 28, 1983, at the age of 70. Frua’s legacy endures through the timeless designs he created, the innovative approaches he embraced, and the influence he exerted on the world of automotive design.


Pietro Frua’s journey from a draftsman in Turin to an internationally acclaimed automotive designer is a testament to his unparalleled talent, resilience, and visionary spirit. His ability to seamlessly blend form and function, coupled with his entrepreneurial endeavors, contributed significantly to the evolution of automotive design during the mid-20th century.

From his early days at Farina to the establishment of his own design studio, Frua’s impact was felt across renowned brands like Maserati, Renault, and Volvo, leaving an indelible mark on each collaboration. The “Frua line” became synonymous with elegance, taste, and a commitment to excellence that transcended borders.

As we reflect on Pietro Frua’s storied career, it becomes evident that his legacy extends far beyond the cars he designed. He was a trailblazer, a visionary, and a driving force in an era that shaped the future of the automotive industry. The timeless beauty of Frua’s creations continues to inspire generations of designers, ensuring that his influence remains etched in the annals of automotive history.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Classic cars have a universal appeal for collectors and people all around the world. In particular, the Fiat 500 is an iconic classic car model known for its charming nature and unique aesthetic. It is clear to see how popular the Fiat 500 is as the brand has sold millions of cars worldwide. With the Fiat 500 car continuing to turn heads even today, let’s explore how it has continued to stay relevant in modern society.

The Fiat 500 which is also known as the “Cinquecento” has truly cemented a place for itself in contemporary culture. Having been designed by Dante Giacosa and launched in July 1957, the Fiat 500 is hailed for its compact size and alluring appearance. Its practical nature also means that it can be easily parked which is perfect for those who are skeptical about their driving or people who are just learning to drive. However, it is also respected by experienced drivers who want to show off their prized possession.

The Fiat 500 has a long and rich history. Having been introduced in 1957, it paved the way for many small cars to enter onto the scene. Its compact size, less than 3 meters long and air-cooled, two-cylinder engine makes it the ideal choice for urban driving. However, it still boasts a sizeable interior meaning that drivers of this car can store their objects with no problem.

This model lasts 200,000 to 250,000 miles with proper care meaning that you can keep it for a long time without having to replace it. There are several things that can be done to lengthen the lifespan and reliability of a Fiat 500 car. For example, ensuring that your Fiat 500 has dependable tires is crucial for safety, performance, and overall driving experience. With this type of car, regular maintenance is necessary to ensure it performs to the best of its ability in the long run.

Over the years, there have also been several Fiat 500 models released, keeping car collectors intrigued. The 500 has produced a long line of Fiats, including models such as the 850 series and the 850 Spider. While it seemed for a while that the Fiat 500 car had lost its appeal, the appeal of the Fiat 500, was renewed once again in 2007 when Fiat introduced a modern version of the classic city car that incorporated the iconic design elements while meeting contemporary standards.

The cultural impact of the Fiat 500 is equally notable. It has made its way into art, clothing choices and culture. From appearing in films like “The Italian Job”, to being showcased in magazines, the Fiat 500 has made its way into every aspect of modern culture. The Fiat 500 is also regularly showcased on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok which has further accelerated the growth and popularity of this type of car. Even celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney have been associated with the Fiat 500s which has further integrated this type of car into contemporary culture.

Nowadays, with a modern interest in electric cars, the Fiat 500e has been released which is the electric version of the 500 that is eco-friendly. With a 42kWh battery, it can offer a range of up to 149 miles before needing to be recharged. This makes it ideal for travelling around towns or cities as well as going on short trips. The Fiat 500 brand is continuing to stay relevant by promotion subscriptions and car-sharing. Although there is plenty of rival car brands making a name for themselves in the world of electric cars, the Fiat 500 is a symbol of timeless elegance.

Overall, with an impressive legacy and a promising future, the Fiat 500 is a well-received car on a global scale. With its timeless appeal, the car is certainly going to be relevant for all generations to come.