Luigi Colani, the renowned designer to whom Formula 1 turned its back

He hit the pinnacle with his scrolls earned from the auto industry, but his futuristic concepts caused laughter in the paddock.

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La F1 of yesteryear certain licenses were allowed that today would be impossible. As it happened in the early 1970s when a businessman who sold motorhomes commissioned a top-class car from an industrial designer who loved round shapes.

The executive was German Gunther henerici and the designer his compatriot Lutz "Luigi" Colani, one of the great stars of the international design industry of those years.

Luigi colani
Luigi Colani working on his castle in Harkotten.

A lover of challenges, Colani accepted the proposal to get his hands on a chassis March 721 and transform it into the Eifelland 21, which immediately attracted attention for its radical forms, which later changed for the benefit of performance.

The unique monoposto, which only competed in eight 1972 Grand Prix with the German Rolf Stommelen as a pilot, he was born in the harkotten castle, in Münsterland, Westphalia. This was Colani's workshop and design center, which had achieved much fame for its futuristic creations that included furniture, appliances and, of course, concept cars.

Colani sketch
Already in 1968 Colani had shown his interest in the world of competition.

They all had one thing in common: excess rounded shapes. This was part of what Luigi defined as Biodynamics and that was inspired by the shape of our planet.

“The Earth is round, all celestial bodies are also round; they all move in circular or elliptical orbits ... We wake up even in the presence of round shapes related to eroticism and the propagation of the species. Why should I join the deviation of the mass that wants to make everything angular? I am going to follow the philosophy of Galileo Galilei. My world is also round! ”, the designer used to say.

Born in 1928, Colani trained as a sculptor before studying aerodynamics at the Sorbonne. In the early 50s he was hired by McDonnell Douglas to work in the department of new materials and shortly after he landed in the automotive industry at the hands of Simca.

Colani GT
Del Colani GT sold 1.700 units.

His ingenuity allowed the brand to achieve many successes in long distance races and that opened the doors to other companies such as Fiat, Alfa Romeo, spear, Volkswagenand BMW, for which he created the little BMW 700 regarded as the world's first monocoque sports car.

His reputation in the industry encouraged him to create the Colani GT based on a VW Beetle and that transcended by being the first kit car of the world manufactured in series (sold 1.700 units).

When Colani accepted Henerici's proposal, she had a lot of prestige. However, part of the paddock portrayed him for his unique creation, which caused laughter among the exalted creators in the category. The thing is the Eifelland 21 was far from resembling an F.1 proper.

Luigi Colani Eifelland F1
The Eifelland 21 debuted at the 1972 South African GP with this unique horn, which was later changed.

The first version of the monoposto had a raised trunk in the shape of a "tea tray". In addition, he used the exposed side radiators and a the air entered the passenger compartment area that passed around the cockpit until it reached the engine. It also caught his attention a curious central rear-view mirror located on a pillar in the upper part of the horn and well above the driver's head.

The Eifelland 21, nicknamed as The whale, it never walked even though some aspects of the original design were changed in order to achieve greater aerodynamic efficiency, even a rear spoiler integrated into the body. While the original 721 chassis didn't stand out for its competitiveness either, many credited Colani himself with the car's failure.

Eifelland 21
After a few races, the Eifelland 21 became a “more normal” F.1 ...

The adventure of the German creator was short-lived. After a few races in which Stommelen did his best (his best results were a couple of tenths at the Monaco and Great Britain GPs), Henerici sold his company and the Eifelland team passed away ...

For Colani the F.1 was one more project that did not end as he would have liked, as he demonstrated years later creating sketches and even a Futuristic F.1 in which round shapes predominate, obviously, and that nowadays usually form part of the samples that pay tribute to it.

colani concept f1 car
This is how Colani imagined the Formula 1 of the XNUMXst century.

“I'm 20 years ahead, mamma mia! People need at least 20 years to reach my level that I am at the moment! ”, used to say.

That Eifelland 21 stumble, so to speak, never stopped him. Luigi Colani continued his prolific work as an industrial designer with original and successful creations, such as the Canon T90 camera, and received countless accolades until his death in 2019.


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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, y and on the radios Rock pop y He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog:

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