Villa d'Este

21 May 2011

Bertone S.p.A.

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Lot 109

1980 Lamborghini Athon

  • Chassis no. S155/01

Sold for €347.200


260 bhp, 2,996 cc transverse mid-mounted 90° V-8 DOHC, four inverted twin-choke Weber 40 DCNF carburettors, five-speed manual gearbox, independent suspension front and rear with McPherson struts, coil springs and hydraulic dampers with anti-roll bars, Dual-circuit hydraulic brakes, 278 mm discs all around. Wheelbase: 2,455 mm (96.6")



- From the Collection of Bertone S.p.A.

- Unveiled at Turin Motor Show, April 1980

- Dramatic design by Marc Deschamps, successor to Marcello Gandini

- Offered in original condition



At the 58th Turin Motor Show, held in April 1980, Bertone introduced a new concept car based on a Lamborghini chassis – a slightly unusual choice, given that Lamborghini was in dire financial straits at the time. The press release from the Turin coachbuilder made it clear that Bertone wanted to support the company. The name Athon, referring to the Egyptian cult of the sun, was appropriate as the car was a spider, completely devoid of a top and intended as a fair-weather car.



The Athon was the first Bertone concept car created under the direction of Frenchman Marc Deschamps, following the departure of Marcello Gandini at the end of 1979. Some observers had expected Bertone to embrace a different school of design, but under the guidance of Nuccio Bertone, Deschamps seemed to follow closely in the footsteps of his predecessor. The Athon was thus based on similar aesthetic codes to the Bertone concept cars shown since the 1970s, with tense surfaces and highly sculpted geometric volumes delineated by clear edges and cut-lines. Likewise, the Athon explored themes close to Bertone’s heart in the treatment of glass surfaces as integrated parts of the bodywork or as openings.



Mechanically, the car was based on the Silhouette, itself closely derived from the Urraco. The three-litre V-8 gave 260 bhp at 7,500 rpm fed by four Weber carburettors and was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The wheelbase was unchanged, but the overall length was under four metres due mainly to the short rear overhang. With no soundproofing, driving the Athon at any speed was a glorious aural experience, as noted by Italian magazine Quattroruote in its July 1980 test review. Without any serious modification to the mechanicals, the car was reported to retain all the positive attributes of the Silhouette in terms of road-holding and handling.



The Athon’s proportions were unusual for a spider, with a forward-set cabin and a long and relatively tall rear deck underlining the mid-engine configuration. The engine cover was treated as a separate item, painted semi-matte to subtly offset it from the rest of the bodywork. Designed in such a way as to intentionally blur the boundary between the body and the mechanicals it contained, it even incorporated “dummy” air-filter boxes on its top surface. In contrast, the smooth wraparound windscreen made use of state-of-the-art glass technology and was smoked to integrate even more with the warm gunmetal grey body colour.



It was a highly graphic but also a highly sculpted car: whilst the overall shape might appear somewhat monolithic – a sure sign of Deschamps’s intention – surfaces were deeply recessed on the flanks. The interaction of volumes between doors and side sills is especially dramatic. Taillights were but thin grooves recessed in the rear corners, so as to interfere as little as possible with the solid appearance of the rear end. The two-piece alloy wheels were manufactured by Campagnolo and were close enough to production form that they would be adopted on the new Jalpa a year later.



Although built in a short time span, the Athon shows the same quality of construction inherent in all Bertone prototypes, with a surprising level of attention paid to the interior detailing, both ergonomically and aesthetically. The innovative digital instrument display was developed with the Italian supplier Veglia, while secondary controls normally found on stalks – such as the windscreen wipers and indicators – were instead grouped in a pod a hand-width from the left of the steering wheel. These details, as well as the single-spoke steering wheel itself, were good examples of Bertone seeking to push the envelope with regard to interior ergonomics.



A dramatic and uncompromising spider over suitably exotic underpinnings, the Athon remains an evocative styling statement of its era. Having never been subject to restoration, this striking example of Bertone’s design excellence is offered in absolutely original condition.



This lot is subject to VAT (at 20%) on the full purchase price (both on the hammer price and the commission).



ITALIANTEXT



260cv, motore 8 cilindri a V di 2,996 cm3 in posizione centrale trasversale, doppio albero a camme in testa, 4 carburatori Weber 40 DCNF a doppio corpo invertiti, cambio manuale a 5 marce,

sospensioni anteriori/posteriori a ruote indipendenti di tipo McPherson con molle elicoidali, ammortizzatori idraulici e barre antirollio, freni con doppio circuito idraulico e dischi di 278 mm. Passo: 2,455 mm



- Dalla Collezione della Bertone S.p.A.

- Presentata al Salone dell’Automobile di Torino, aprile 1980

- Stile firmato da Marc Deschamps, subentrato a Marcello Gandini

- Conservata in condizioni originali





In occasione del 58° Salone dell’Automobile di Torino, tenutosi nell’aprile del 1980, Bertone presentò una nuova concept car basata su un telaio Lamborghini. La scelta era sorprendente in quanto la Lamborghini versava allora in condizioni economiche disastrate. Nel suo comunicato stampa il carrozziere dichiarava chiaramente il proprio sostegno al costruttore emiliano in quel momento di difficoltà. Il nome Athon, che trae origine dal culto egizio per il sole, risultava particolarmente appropriato per una vettura aperta e totalmente sprovvista di qualunque forma di capote.



La Athon era la prima show car di Bertone disegnata sotto la responsabilità diretta del francese Marc Deschamps, subentrato a Marcello Gandini alla fine del 1979. Il linguaggio estetico della Bertone non segnò la svolta che alcuni si aspettavano: sotto la direzione vigilante di Nuccio Bertone si mantenne lo stesso indirizzo stilistico. La Athon riprendeva quindi gli stessi stilemi sviluppati sulle concept car di Bertone lungo l’arco degli anni settanta, con superfici tese su dei volumi scolpiti molto geometrici e delineati da spigoli affilati e da tagli grafici innovativi. Proseguiva inoltre la ricerca cara a Bertone sulla massima integrazione delle superfici vetrate con la carrozzeria.



La Athon riprendeva come base meccanica quella della Silhouette, a sua volta strettamente derivata dalla Urraco. Il motore V8 tre litri erogava 260 cavalli a 7500 giri al minuto, era alimentato da quattro carburatori Weber ed era abbinato a un cambio manuale a cinque marce. Il passo rimaneva invariato, ma la lunghezza totale scendeva sotto ai quattro metri grazie allo sbalzo posteriore molto accorciato. L’assenza di isolamento acustico, come notato nella prova eseguita dalla rivista Quattroruote e pubblicata sul numero di Luglio 1980, garantiva un’esperienza sonora impareggiabile. La prova metteva anche in risalto le qualità dinamiche della vettura, logicamente rimaste sugli stessi eccellenti livelli rispetto alla tenuta di strada della Silhouette.



Le proporzioni della Athon erano inusuali per una spider, con la posizione avanzata della cabina e del lungo volume posteriore che enfatizzava la posizione centrale del motore. Il cofano motore era trattato visivamente come un pezzo a sé, con una verniciatura tono su tono semiopaca in modo da distinguerlo dal resto della carrozzeria. Volutamente tecnico nel suo aspetto per trasmettere l’idea di una meccanica fusa in parte con la carrozzeria, era caratterizzato da due molure che sembravano due scatole appositamente ricavate per ospitare i filtri dell’aria. All’opposto, il parabrezza avvolgente sfruttava la migliore tecnologia del momento per fondersi al massimo nel volume di carrozzeria, con una tinta armonizzata al grigio caldo dei pannelli verniciati.



Ne risultava una vettura dal linguaggio fortemente grafico, ma sculturale allo stesso tempo. Se la forma generale era quasi monolitica, sicuramente secondo la volontà di Deschamps, i fianchi erano profondamente scolpiti, e l’interazione dei volumi tra la porta e la parte inferiore della scocca era molto scenografica. Le luci posteriori ricavate nella massa del volume di coda tramite piccole feritoie, rafforzavano l’aspetto solido dell’insieme. I cerchi Campagnolo scomposti in due elementi prefiguravano lo stile di quelli della Jalpa, prodotta in serie dall’anno successivo.



Nonostante fosse stata realizzata in un breve lasso di tempo, la Athon dimostrava la stessa qualità di costruzione evidente in tutti i prototipi assemblati da Bertone, con un livello di attenzione per i dettagli sorprendente. Specie nell’abitacolo, sia l’estetica che l’ergonomia erano particolarmente curate. La strumentazione digitale era il frutto di uno studio d’avanguardia realizzato insieme alla Veglia, mentre alcuni controlli secondari (devio luci, tergicristalli), generalmente posizionati su satelliti posti dietro al volante, erano raggruppati su un’originale impugnatura fissata a distanza di un palmo di mano dal volante. Con l’avveniristico volante mono-razza, questi dettagli sottolineavano lo sforzo creativo della Bertone in fatto di ergonomia interna.



Una strabiliante spider a due posti, senza compromessi, realizzata su una meccanica d’eccellenza, la Athon rimane un oggetto che definisce l’estetica del periodo a cui appartiene. Non essendo mai stata sottoposta a nessun restauro, questo eccezionale esempio dell’arte creativa di Bertone viene proposto in condizioni assolutamente originali.



Questo lotto e imponibile Iva (20%). L'imposta verra calcolata sul prezzo di acquisto totale (prezzo di aggiudicazione piu commissione).

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more