From the 19th of June to the 10th of November, the MAUTO – or Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile di Torino – will play host to the exhibition “Auto&Design – Il Progetto Raccontato”, devoted to the first 40 years of this fine specialist magazine. It features a journey through time over four decades of publication, from objects used in the editorial office in the early 1980s down to the digital editions of today.
Guests of honour on display are roughly twenty spectacular showcars – lent by Car Manufacturers’ style centres from around the world – including the fascinating Alfa Romeo Protèo, Fiat Scia and Lancia Dialogos concept cars. These three prototypes have left their mark on the history of car design and today are part of the superb collection of FCA Heritage, the department founded in 2015 in order to protect, publicise and promote the historic heritage of FCA’s Italian brands.
Alfa Romeo Protèo (1991)
The Alfa Romeo concept car is a 2-seater equipped with a highly unusual glass roof which can disappear behind the seats, thus allowing the prototype to transform itself, like the Greek deity from which it takes its name. Thus, in its design the car escapes the traditional distinction between coupé and spider, offering the alternatives of either a closed or open car. Presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1991, the extraordinary Protèo was created on the basis of the flagship Alfa Romeo 164, with a four-wheel drive, a 3.0 V6 24-valve 260 HP engine and a whole series of technical and mechanical innovations, some of them reused in future Alfa models. For example, this concept car is equipped with electronically controlled damping suspensions and a 4-wheel steering system which ensured excellent maneuverability and speed in mixed conditions. In addition, the Alfa Romeo Protèo introduced an experimental “red alpha” colour, featuring an extra-bright metallescent look, which for some years was offered in the range under the name “Protèo red”.
Fiat Scia (1993)
The Fiat Scia is a two-seater spider, based on the mechanics of the Fiat Punto, with no roof of any kind and so fitted with waterproof interiors. The nautical world was clearly a source of inspiration guiding the Fiat Style Centre when developing the lines of this most unusual prototype. Presented at the 1993 Turin Motor Show and built by Carrozzeria Maggiora, the Fiat Scia concept car aroused public curiosity and paved the way for the future Fiat Barchetta, launched two years later.
Lancia Dialogos (1998)
The Lancia Dialogos concept car made its debut at the Turin Motor Show in 1998, anticipating the future Thesis in its lines. At the heart of the project was the innovative concept of a “biodynamic car”: a place to live, not just a vehicle to drive, a space where matter and technology offered wellbeing as well as aesthetic pleasure. The result was an interior billed as “a healthy bubble”, to be inhabited while enjoying a stress-free drive.
The Dialogos prototype’s style reinterpreted the Lancia tradition in a more contemporary key, with a high front, long bonnet, inverted wedge profile, soft curves, rounded edges and assertive personality.
Internally the car is spacious and comfortable, providing exceptional comfort and practicality on board, also thanks to its Top Climate System: this detects external temperature, humidity and pollution conditions, and creates an ideal climate inside. The Lancia Dialogos could rise or sink down, depending on the height of the driver, and its seats rotated and moved outwards to help passengers enter. Once occupied, the seats retracted, the doors closed automatically and the car adapted to the driver’s habits: to drive on the right or left and to modify climate settings and vary the diffusion and intensity of illumination and sound. The Dialogos offered an interior with clean shapes and comfortable spaces, but could then produce screens and keyboards, mini-bar, table and document compartments on command. Instead of the traditional dashboard and instrument display, it featured a large panel formed by three liquid crystal display monitors: one reserved to showing performance information to the driver, a second, near the passenger, dedicated to navigation and comfort, and a third in the centre showing images from the rear-view camera.