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Guerino Bertocchi

Discussion in 'Maserati' started by Nembo1777, Apr 5, 2020.

  1. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Veteran
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    #1 Nembo1777, Apr 5, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2020
    This text I wrote about him starts with his end because he was suddenly mentioned, off topic, in the Khamsin thread, specifically about his departure from Maserati, not voluntary but upon being fired. He is often painted in an overly rosy manner so I felt the facts should be put forth.

    Guerino (real name Guarino) Bertocchi born October 29, 1907, was one of the oldest employees of Maserati when he got himself fired by the company at the Paris car show.

    Ever since his son Aurelio had been fired for being insubordinate and causing problems during the early days of the Citroen administration (he had wanted to be commercial director but was not considered capable), Guerrino had started criticizing the Bora which was being launched that year (1971). It was known he had told potential clients to go buy a Pantera instead...his son had been recruited by de Tomaso after his firing from Maserati.

    Bertocchi was totally against a rear mid engine road car, he felt Maseratis were GT cars and that following that fashion was wrong for the Trident. In this he certainly had a valid point however the decision had been taken to produce the Bora and he was not on the board, he was just a technician. He had no say.

    In testing of the Bora he was therefore so contrarian that it actually helped make it even better before the product was finalized. However well before that he was relieved of Bora development duties which were assigned to Cleto (Anacleto) Grandi . Finally at the Paris car show Bertocchi was caught in the act. There was then the habit of giving potential clients rides in cars in Paris during the car show –try that in today’s traffic!- and a fake client, a Citroen employee he did not know, rode along with him in a Bora with a hidden tape recorder and yes Bertocchi was telling him to buy a Pantera instead.

    He was fired that day in Paris.

    He was then recruited by de Tomaso to do what he did at Maserati before, test cars.

    There was another reason he was fired from Maserati.

    When Citroen took over in 1968 the commercial director it appointed, Dominique Drieux, number two to administrator Guy Malleret, did his due diligence and found two level accounting (the official one and the real one behind a cloak room in a sort of closet)which had nothing to do with Bertocchi and also that parts were being stolen in industrial quantity. It was quite chaotic with no accountability.

    Drieux, after he finished reviewing everything from ledgers to parts inventory, asked Malleret “how many wheels in a Maserati” and Malleret answered “Why five of course.” Drieux answered “No, more like 6 or 8.”

    Who was at the root of this? Bertocchi. He had been one of the few with Afro Barani and his relative Gino Bertocchi (who had an important role in the engine room) to have worked for Maserati since the days in Bologna before Adolfo Orsi senior decided after his purchase of the company to move it to Modena just before WWII. Then his son Aurelio joined as well. There was a sort of Bertocchi clan within the factory, not just the family but those loyal to Guerino.

    Once road car production started in earnest with the 3500GT Bertocchi as chief of the test driving department was always busy testing cars off the assembly workshops and prior to delivery to sign off or get issues sorted.

    He had a rather un-democratic way of dealing with problems emerging in cars tested by him or other testers, such as Rosario Cammarda whom I interviewed for my book. If the car was destined for a dealership where he had friends he would say sort it out, no matter how small or major the issue was. If it was for some other dealer or importer, particularly the US he would just say va bene cosi, that’s fine leave it. So the car would depart to its destination flawed....

    He was quite the conflictual bully personality feeling he had a right to rule the roost in the workshops and the gentlest of persons one day could take it no more. Ermanno Cozza famously became infuriated once when Bertocchi was being contrarian, overstepping his authority and it was Mr Drieux who had to sort it out, get Bertocchi to toe the line.

    In his golden years at de Tomaso he continued testing cars and that is when fate intervened. There has been much incorrect reporting of his demise and I went through a lot of trouble back in 2012 to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    A Dutch client visited the de Tomaso factory with his family and wanted to try a Deauville the four door model. The only one available was a right hand drive UK market car. So off they went, April 13, 1981, with the family in the back seat Bertocchi driving first, then passing the wheel to the Dutchman.

    They stopped at the Maserati garage of Franco Tralli in Bomporto 10kms outside Modena since they were driving nearby. Tralli confirmed this to me.

    Then not long afterwards the Dutchman obviously sampling the high performance of the car in a spirited way (you could still really drive in Europe in those days) wanted to overtake a truck but due to being on the right side could not see properly around the truck in front when deciding to overtake and they hit an oncoming truck head on, left front to left front. The Dutchman was injured but Bertocchi had no chance as he took the impact fully. People who then drove by the accident scene thought Bertocchi had been driving since some saw him in the wrecked car in the left front seat, hence the confusion. Articles then stated he was driving as a result but he was not.

    But to finish the positive side of Guerrino.
    He was stalwart of the company, rode with Alfieri Maserati as a teen in the Targa Florio in 1926 the first time ever a Maserati competed. He was chief mechanic in racing in F1 and endurance racing, then head of the racing department. He ran a tight ship was an excellent test driver, very fast, some say faster than Fangio around the Modena aerautordromo and that is believable. He was very appreciated by the drivers. He did tons of testing in all racing cars and drove the final Tipo 151 in April 65 just before Lloyd "Lucky" Casner crashed fatally at the le Mans test day April 1965.

    He had a wicked sense of humor, a gentler side to his harsh personality (he chose the nickname Guerrino instead of his real first name Guarino because it meant little warrior). He used to scare the daylights out of people riding with him with a bit of mean trick.

    On one of the innumerable long straights in the flatlands around Modena he would wait until the last second to overtake a truck when another came the other way, terrorizing his passenger who thought his last moment had arrived. Drieux told me he played that trick all the time so anytime he rode with him he would make him promise not to.

    It must have been harder for him than anybody else to see Maserati forced to stop racing and this frustration seems to have really affected his outlook and how he dealt with people. Even if it is wrong it is understandable.

    So he was far from the saint some paint him as, he had a shady side and was a true contrarian but still he was a major contributor to Maserati’s early history and part of the legend of the Trident.

    (note: all of the above is confirmed in interviews in my book, I am not trying to sell books, it sold out anyway but I felt the above had to be clarified.)
     
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  2. italiancars

    italiancars F1 Rookie

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    Marc,
    Appreciate the write up on Bertocchi. In the Khamsin thread, I simply mentioned that Bertocchi left when Citroen took over. That he was probably the longest tenured employee dating back to Alfieri Maserati himself. Conflicted person? No doubt, but he was as much as anyone put his influence into the Maseratis of that era.

    I still remember reading an article in Sports Illustrated in the 70s about the decadent cars being produced in the Heart of the Communist Party in Italy. For Ferrari a picture of Enzo, for Lamborghini a picture of Ferruccio, for DeTomaso Alejandro, but for Maserati it was Bertocchi.
     
  3. emsiegel13

    emsiegel13 Formula Junior
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    I was one of those people who had a picture of Bertocchi that was somewhat different from the one you paint. Knowing how meticulous you are with your research and interviews, I now have another view which until challenged with be the one that I use when think about Bertocchi. He was, like so many personalities, complicated and flawed, but extremely interesting not the less. Thanks for taking the time to do your write up. I really enjoyed it.
     
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  4. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Veteran
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    #4 Nembo1777, Apr 5, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2020
    Joe,
    Apart of the fact that he was there for the first three years of the Citroen administration until he was terminated I have no problem with the symbolism: he was a very important part of the apex years of success, next to Fangio when the title was won in F1 in 57 etc.

    Elliott,

    Glad you liked it. Research sometimes yields uncomfortable results but despite his questionable aspects he can still be remembered as a pillar of Trident history. He had no decision making authority for the racing department, he was the man in charge in pitlane making sure the team executed the test day or the racing weekend but his opinion during testing and development was relied upon by the Orsis and Giulio Alfieri before it unraveled later on.

    One other thing: Bertocchi had started his memoirs near the end of his life and I would love to find that text...supposing it still exists of course, which is a big if. There is still a Bertocchi home and family, not far from the now ex Panini farm and museum.
     
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  5. redfred84

    redfred84 Formula Junior
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    Ex Panini farm & Museum? What happened? I understand that there were difficulties in obtaining the "Organic" label for some of the cheese, but that was a few years ago. Is the Museum still intact?

    Fingers crossed, RF.
     
  6. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Veteran
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    It all got sold recently but everything continues as before, museum included. Let's keep this Bertocchi thread on topic, I will post some photos this week anyone who has some might too.
     
  7. Froggie

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    Marc, thank you for letting us know this shady part of the story of Guerino Bertocchi.
    A great contributor to the glorious years of the Maserati saga anyway
     
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  8. italiancars

    italiancars F1 Rookie

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    my understanding is Hombre got sold to MOTOVARIO, but they kept the Maserati collection.
     
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  9. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Marc, very good review to Bertocchi`s career and -quite often- difficult personality.

    I was told this story by a German customer some years ago: "After I ordered my Khamsin at dealer Auto König in Anzing near Munich, I drove with my Ferrari 275GTB to Modena. At the factory, was introduced to Bertocchi and had lunch with him. He told me that "something was possible" to increase the power of the Khamsin for "special customers like me". I was much interested and asked him to make that possible. I gave him a huge tip....
    2 months later I arrived in Modena to pick up my new car. I took it out for a first drive to the hills around and suddenly...BANG from the engine! A small Fiat came by and took me back to Modena. They came and loaded the Khamsin on a truck. Back in the factory they opened the engine and found....lots of sand in it!!!
    Thats about Bertocchi promising me more power.........!"
     
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  10. emsiegel13

    emsiegel13 Formula Junior
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    Walter,

    That's a very sad story, funny, but sad!
     
  11. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Veteran
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    Thanks for that Walter, not so surprising alas...
     
  12. Merak1974

    Merak1974 Formula 3

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    Fascinating story, Walter. But, what is the "moral" of the story? That the tip was not big enough? Or that he came to Modena on a 275GTB? Or just that Bertocchi was prone to some rather erratic behavior?
     
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  13. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    The "moral" in this story is, that Bertocchi promised to "deliver" a perfect car with more hp, the customer gave him a nice tip for the efforts etc....and at the end, recived "s**t"!
     
  14. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    After my Dad`s passing, I had his Daytona for some years. Very fast car but a nightmare to drive in inner cities. At a time the car got engine problems. The mechanic in my father`s company found out that it was a camshaft problem.
    Auto Becker in Düsseldorf, main importer for Ferrari in the mid 1970s could not help so I sent the mechanic to Maranello.
    The Ferrari guys were yelling on him in the factory "...tell your boss to buy a new Ferrari (512BB). What does he want with that old crapp (Daytona)?"
    Outside again, a chap was running behind my mechanic out of the Ferrari gates: "What do you need, Signor?". Next day my mechanic was outside the Ferrari factory when this chap came out of the building. He opened his coat and put 4 new cams out, got paid by my man and went back to Ferrari S.p.A.
    So Bertocchi was not the only man who -more or less- were stealing from their companies...
     
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  15. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Veteran
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    I could go on about the late Ubaldo Sgarzi at Lambo, then sales manager: would you like a rear wing for your Countach Sir? That is only for very special clients such as yourself, cash only.
     
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  16. italiancars

    italiancars F1 Rookie

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    of such things don’t happen in every country in the world.
     
  17. Frederic DONIOT

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  18. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Veteran
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    Thanks for that Frederic, I guess you lost your access code for your old identity? Hope all is well with you and your dad.
     
  19. Angus81

    Angus81 Karting

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    Thanks Marc, everything is OK
    finishing the engine of the Ghibli
    I have my identity back now
    See you soon I hope !!!
     
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