GENEVA (Reuters) - Pininfarina and Bertone put new "supercar" concepts on display at the Geneva Auto Show, demonstrating that the two design houses are putting their financial troubles behind them, executives said.
Both family-held bodymakers have been forced to sell their manufacturing plants and focus on becoming "pure" design firms, penning dream cars for mainly Asian clients on commission.
But the crowds flocking to view the Pininfarina Cambiano and Bertone Nuccio concept cars on view in Geneva show that neither company has lost its ability to make eye-popping designs as they re-make themselves as smaller firms.
"We are proud to continue the Italian bodymaking tradition," said Pininfarina CEO Silvio Angori, talking about the new Cambiano at the company's crowded stand.
For manufacturers wanting to make an electric car that offers 500 horsepower and zero to 100 kilometers per hour in four seconds, the Cambiano can do the trick.
It boasts the sleek and understated trademark Pininfarina styling that is part of the house's DNA, Angori said.
Unusually, the high tech car's floors and door panels are made out of old, pockmarked wood recovered from recycled pilings that used to sit underwater beneath the lagoon of Venice.
At Bertone, which clinched a place in design history in the 1960s with the Lamborghini Miura, the low slung Nuccio supercar has a windshield and roof that look like a crocodile's eye, said Michael Robinson, its designer.
The term "wild ride" could be equally applied to both the car and Bertone's recent brush with collapse. The firm sold off manufacturing operations to Fiat. Nuccio Bertone's widow Lilli Bertone is resurrecting Bertone as president of the design house.
"With this car, we wanted to celebrate the fact that Bertone has turned a corner," said designer Robinson.
(Reporting by Jennifer Clark; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)