Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Testudo debuted at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show shown by Nuccio Bertone. The car was built and designed in only two months, but still managed to be an innovative and unique concept car.
The Testudo, or “turtle,” was based on a Corvair Monza chassis that was shortened and strengthened. The drivetrain was untouched with an air-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine that produced 81 horsepower. It wasn’t a powerful car, but with weight over the rear axle it had great traction and was well-balanced in braking.
Its name was based on its design which featured a crease along the waistline that divided it into two halves, top and bottom, reminiscent of a turtle’s shell. Pop up headlights that rotated upwards, tail-lights made for the first time from polycarbonate plastics, and a cockpit accessed through a forward-hinged canopy added to the signature styling of the Testudo.
Several years after its introduction, it was damaged during shooting of a promotional film for Shell. Nuccio Bertone was understandably furious and stored the car in its damaged state for years due to the cost of repairs. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the car was finally restored and shown to the public at the 1996 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.