The Sibilo was another radical geometric development of the wedge shape by Bertone chief stylist Marcello Gandini.
Based on a road-going version of the World Rally Championship-winning Lancia Stratos, the Sibilo was revealed in 1978 and was so outlandish that it’s said to have inspired the design of vehicles in the 1990 science-fiction movie Total Recall by Paul Verhoeven with Arnold Schwarzenegger, over a decade after it was created.
Gandini took themes previously applied to the Bravo and Alfa Romeo Navajo a step further by blending the glass-house into the bodywork to form a fully integral volume. The windscreen and side glass were fitted flush, with the joints filled in and carefully painted to give smooth, uninterrupted surfaces. Instead of drop-down windows the side panels were clear plastic with circular openings on each side that popped inwards and then slid forwards on runners.
Even the bumpers were integrated into the overall shape, only separated by a subtle crease and orange pinstripe. The squared-off wheelarches were an evolution of the Stratos Stradale’s overlapping design. Like most Bertone concept cars of that period, the body was hand-beaten steel, though the unusual choice of polycarbonate for the side windows was only made because Bertone’s glass supplier couldn’t deliver on time for the car’s unveiling at the 1978 Turin show.
Underneath, the lengthened (by around four inches or 10cm) Stratos chassis was fitted with mostly unmodified Stratos running gear, including the 190bhp V6 engine and five-speed gearbox. Air to the engine bay was fed through two intakes let into the roof.
The most striking point of the minimalist interior was the one-piece steering wheel with an elongated section said to accurately reproduce the ergonomics of a hand’s grip – and with control lights and basic functions in its centre, complementing the horizontal LCD displays in the top of the dashboard.
When Bertone’s collection of cars was sold off, the Sibilo was bought by well-known collector Corrado Lopresto, who restored it and brought it into running condition, so that it was finally driveable. It’s now one of the stars of the Lopresto Collection.
Thanks to RM Sotheby’s for some of the history information.