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A Visual History of the Double Bubble Roof

Chuck Andersen
1956 Ferrari 250 GT Zagato ser#0515GT Photo: Chuck Andersen

Synonymous with Zagato, but embraced throughout the automotive industry, double-bubble roofs are one of the most striking design cues ever to emerge from post-WWII Italy. An already established coachbuilder with a lot of experience in lightweight materials, namely aluminum, Ugo Zagato was also among the first to experiment with aerodynamics, creating fast cars by making their bodywork light and slippery, just like he previously did with airplanes.

This 1949 Maserati 1500 designed by Ugo Zagato, demonstrates his early Panoramica roof treatment. Photo: Maserati

Before he came up with his most famous design, Ugo Zagato patented a domed roof with curved side windows in 1948, naming it Panoramica. The Panoramica design was an aerodynamic advancement, but still inherently flawed, as the dome heightened the roofline, increasing a car’s frontal section. Addressing this setback, he devised another roof design, the one that would come to define the company he founded in 1919.

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