Great MB Designer: Bruno Sacco

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MB Enthusiast
Jul 15, 2006
Lymington, Hampshire
ML250 BlueTEC Sport Jan 2013
Now some are querying Mercedes contributions to car design, this may interest some -what was said when honouring one of MB's greatest chief designers: -

Automotive Hall of Fame Honours Bruno Sacco, Legendary Head of Design for Mercedes-Benz

Automotive Hall of Fame Honors Bruno Sacco, Legendary Head of Design for Mercedes-Benz

MONTVALE, N.J., Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Bruno Sacco, the man whose
lasting impact on the design of Mercedes-Benz automobiles and the designer
who put the face on Mercedes-Benz, will be admitted to the Automotive Hall
of Fame in Dearborn, MI, on October 3, 2006 as a tribute to his life work.
Sacco, the now retired designer whose work for the brand with the
three-pointed star spanned more than four decades, will join a small and
select group of outstanding and deserving personalities from all over the
world whose careers have demonstrated a commitment to individual mobility.

A native of Udine, Italy, Sacco completed his studies in Turin and
joined the Daimler-Benz design staff in 1958. As a stylist and designer he
was involved in various projects including the Mercedes-Benz 600 and the
230 SL roadster. In addition, he was made project leader for the design of
the safety exhibitions of the day as well as the so-called "test labs on
wheels," the C 111-I and C 111-II experimental vehicles. In 1970 Sacco
became Head of the Body Design and Dimensional Drawing department. Under
his aegis this period saw the development of the ESF (Experimental Safety
Vehicle) prototypes and the 123 series.

Mercedes-Benz Design Philosophy

In 1975 now bearing the title Senior Engineer, Bruno Sacco took over as
Head of the Styling department at Mercedes-Benz, where in addition to
developing current projects, he also put together a design philosophy to
which Mercedes-Benz design adhered. A design family was to be created to
which all passenger cars bearing the three-pointed star belonged. The first
law of this philosophy was that a Mercedes-Benz should be intuitively
recognizable as part of this family by members of the public worldwide. And
should a Mercedes-Benz undergo advanced development in a subsequent model
generation, then the identity of the model series was to be safeguarded.
This was the central pillar of the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy and
ensured that a predecessor model did not appear outmoded following the
presentation of a new model generation. The goal of this strategy was to
retain the positive aura of a Mercedes-Benz on the roads for as long as

The second main pillar of the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy was brand
identity. This called for traditional design characteristics to be
maintained, further developed and featured in all model series
simultaneously. It found outward expression, for example, in the design of
the radiator grille, headlamps and tail lights. Although there were formal
differences in detail between sedans, coupes and roadsters, the family
likeness was obvious to the casual observer at first glance.

Mercedes-Benz Design In The Hands Of Bruno Sacco

In 1978, Sacco was appointed Head of the Styling Department. Under his
direction, his department caught the world unawares with a third C 111
project, a diesel record-breaking car that was aerodynamically inspired and
featured sharp body lines. In no previous brand design project had
technical innovation and design creativity been so powerfully combined.
Numerous design elements later found their way into new production models
of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its precise edges and clean lines that
ran parallel to the so-called flow line also heavily influenced the design
of the future Mercedes- Benz 190.

The "small Mercedes" opened a new and successful chapter for the
Mercedes- Benz brand in late 1982 where it offered up the so-called compact
class as a completely new vehicle category positioned beneath the
established Mercedes- Benz sedans. Its moderate wedge shape with clean
edges, distinctive C pillars and high, rounded trunk lid later found many

A second masterpiece in the new era was the Mercedes-Benz SL of 1989 (R
129 series). Another new design, it embodied the dynamics of the roadster
with perfect proportions and sporting details. The elongated, dipping
engine hood, the A pillars as a stylistic continuation of the front wheel
arches, the muscular short hardtop and the aerodynamic, gently flowing
sidewalls collectively amounted to a controlled bundle of energy with looks
that would keep youthful for years.

The S-Class from the 1991 W 140 series waved goodbye to traditional
decorative elements. Diagonally split rear lights underlined its innovative
character as did the new design of the radiator grille. For the first time,
this had been integrated into the engine hood and completely encased in
metal. The three-pointed star was no longer attached to the chrome trim,
but sat instead on the engine hood. The S-Class had been transformed from
successful business sedan to powerfully elegant trendsetter destined for
the luxury market.

Having proven an immediate success, the Mercedes-Benz 190 was
superseded in 1993 by the entirely new C-Class (W 202). It was to be the
last model series to adhere closely to the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy
that had been introduced in 1980 and -- in comparison to other automotive
brands -- strictly adhered to.

Fully aware of the growing complexity of the Mercedes-Benz value world
arising from the forthcoming product initiative, Sacco relaxed the strict
application of his design philosophy. Differentiation of the radiator
grilles was an attempt to achieve a simpler structure. At the same time,
new product- specific headlamp and wheel-arch packages were bundled
together by the designers with a view to reinforcing the independence of
the model series. The watershed was made public with the appearance of the
E-Class from the W 210 series in 1995, when the so-called four-eyed face of
the coupe study unveiled at the 1993 Geneva Motor show entered large-scale

The CLK coupe (C 208) followed by the CLK convertible, harmonious
combinations of pure driving pleasure and elegant appearance, were
successfully integrated into the Mercedes-Benz product family, establishing
a CLK series.

In 1997 the M-Class (W 163) was launched, daring to combine the
elegance of a station wagon with the austere sportiness of an offroad
vehicle. The designers succeeded in disguising high ground clearance,
wheels in flared wheel arches and a raised seating position for passengers
using a design language that drew to a significant degree on Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz SLK (R 170 series) introduced in 1996 imitated the
aesthetic qualities of its elder brother, the Mercedes-Benz SL, and with
its power domes on the engine hood even made reference to the stylistic
features of the legendary 300 SL of 1954. Its stretched form and short
overhangs front and rear seemed to symbolize the car's forward urgency. In
terms of formal creativity, everyday practicality and functional
reliability, the innovative folding roof set new standards in modern
automotive design.

The S-Class of 1998 (W 220) was to prove Bruno Sacco's great
valedictory. He made it the brand's innovation-bearer. The traditional
front section with integrated bumper turned the sedan into a sculpture. The
windshield and rear screen were more slanting than had previously been the
case and gave the sedan a lower, leaner appearance. The muscular image of
the new S-Class added a new dimension to the internationally prized
Mercedes charisma. It radiated confidence and individuality and achieved a
new quality of distinguished automotive self-assurance.

In March 1999 Bruno Sacco took retirement. But the spirit of the first
real design strategist of the Mercedes-Benz brand continues to inhabit the
design department. His successor on the tightrope between innovation and
brand tradition is now Peter Pfeiffer who is challenged not only to create
new trends that carry the Mercedes-Benz brand across short-term fashion
currents but also to forge ahead into new dimensions of mobility, as
represented by the successful new spatial concepts in the shape of the
Mercedes-Benz B- and R- Classes.

Bruno Sacco is among an elite group of automotive leaders associated
with Mercedes-Benz to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Carl
Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, Bela Barenyi and Max Hoffman have
previously received the honor.


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A great man whose work was epitomized in the superlative W126. It's surprising that there is no mention of that in the article, but other sources indicate that he led the design team.
A great man whose work was epitomized in the superlative W126. It's surprising that there is no mention of that in the article, but other sources indicate that he led the design team.

Surprising indeed !!
It must be his finest and most-enduring work.
Still a head-turner in 2009.

As a stylist and designer he
was involved in various projects including the Mercedes-Benz 600 and the
230 SL roadster.

Not wishing to take anything away from Mr Sacco , but these designs mentioned above will forever go down in history as amongst Paul Bracq's finest work along with the W110/111/112 saloons,coupes and cabriolets which , even now are held up as some of Mercedes most stylish ever cars .

And , yes , I would consider the similarly-styled W201 and W126 ranges as Mr Sacco's best work .
126 & 129 for me too.

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