Bruno Sacco’s contributions to Mercedes-Benz design will surely outlive other’s efforts, if for no other reason than his unique perspective on automotive design.
It is a common industry practice for designers to attempt to anticipate the environment that will surround their newest designs five or ten years in the future. At Mercedes-Benz, Sacco asked his designers to try to think thirty years ahead.
His reasoning? “The development cycle of a new vehicle is typically three to five years, which is then followed by a production life of about eight years”, explains Sacco. “The last car off the assembly line of that model will have an average life expectancy of 20 years. That adds up to a product lifecycle of approximately 30 years”.
Sacco also rejected the design philosophy that “form follows function”. For him, design and technical innovation go hand in hand…one does not follow the other. “For us, there is no primacy of technology over design or design over technology. The aesthetics of a product can never hope to make up for poor-quality technology.”
Born in Italy in 1933 Sacco attended the Technical University of Turin. While studying there he gained his first experience in body design at the renowned design house Ghia. In the years that followed he worked on several projects at Ghia and the Pininfarina studios. Joining Mercedes 1958, Bruno first worked as a stylist and engineer on projects including the 230SL roadster and the 600 sedan before becoming project manager for the experimental C111 sports car.
In 1970 he was named head of the Body and Dimensional design department and in 1975 chosen to succeed Friedrich Geiger as head of the Mercedes Styling Department, a position he would hold for the next 24 years.
As Mercedes continues to broaden its product portfolio, new styling challenges will arise, but in Sacco’s opinion one aspect will never change: customers will always demand a Mercedes-Benz that possesses all the Mercedes-Benz values. He was committed to the belief that a Mercedes-Benz must always look like a Mercedes–Benz, with the familiar three pointed star always a proud and prominent element.
When Bruno Sacco retired in 1999, he had molded the face of Mercedes-Benz, in one form or another, for over 40 years, 24 of those years as design chief.
A remarkable combination of Italian passion and style with Teutonic attention to detail, it is safe to say that his guiding hand will be felt and seen for years to come.