At the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show, Italdesign, in collaboration with the coachbuilder Karmann and Audi, lifted the veil on the Asso di Picche (Ace of Spades), an extremely angular concept designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro himself.

It is a study for a sporty coupé based on the chassis and mechanics of the first Audi 80, with stylistic references to the earlier Alfa Romeo Caimano and Maserati Boomerang concepts by the same Italian design studio.

The aim? To bring an iconic car to production, which never happened and only remained as a concept that inspired later products. Let's take a look.

A unique car

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and Italdesign, the Asso di Picche was the first of three concepts designed by the Italian company and Karmann for three different car manufacturers.

As expected, the model was built on the basis of the aforementioned Audi 80, i.e. with a longitudinal engine and front-wheel drive - with a MacPherson front axle and a rigid axle at the rear - but with a three-box line shortened at the rear and extended at the front: a solution that gave it an extremely sleek appearance, typical of the coupés of the time.

Italdesign Pik-As (1973)

Italdesign Ace of Spades (1973)

Italdesign Pik-As (1973)
Italdesign Pik-As (1973)

As was typical for Audi, the decision was made in favour of round twin headlights, which were combined with horizontal red rectangular rear lights. There is also a special air intake on the front bonnet, which ensures that the engine draws in as much fresh air as possible and thus maximises efficiency during operation.

Designer interior

What caught the eye at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show was the interior, which consisted of generally innovative lines with a horizontal cylindrical centre console with digital displays and leather upholstery that also extended to the side pockets.

Italdesign Pik-As (1973)

Italdesign Asso di Picche (1973), the interior design

Despite the discreet success of the presentation, Audi decided after a few months to discontinue the Asso di Picche development project and to invest in cars that would generate higher profits and higher sales figures, for example, the Audi 100 C2. However, certain borrowings can still be recognised in the Audi quattro from 1980.

In addition, the Volkswagen Group management knew that both the VW Scirocco and the later Porsche 924 were already well advanced. Another sports car? No chance at first, especially as the Group's finances were not exactly in the best of shape at the time.

Italdesign and Giugiaro kept the Asso di Picche design in the drawer. Elements of it were reused, for example in the Hyundai Pony Coupé Concept from 1974, the first VW Scirocco from the same year and the Lotus Esprit from 1976.

Italdesign Pik-As In Motion

Italdesign Ace of Spades In Motion

In October 2023, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of this special prototype, Italdesign presented a new digital and electric concept with slightly more modern shapes, but based on the original project, called Asso di Picche In Movimento.

Gallery: Italdesign Ace of Spades (1973)