Amedeo Gordini

Amedeo Gordini

23/6/1899 - 25/5/1979

Master tuner, manufacturer and driver, he earned the nickname of The Sorcerer. In September 1945 Gordini won the first post-war race, the Robert Benoist Cup. His Simca-Gordini team enjoyed great success especially with Jean-Pierre Wimille driving.

Amedeo Gordini was born in Bassano, Province of Varese in the Lombardy region of northern Italy.

From the age of eight when he watched his first motor race he was hooked. He was an orphan and at 11 he started work in a garage, later joined a Fiat dealership in Bologna working with Eduardo Weber of carburetta fame.

At 14 he moved to Isotta-Fraschini working with Alfieri Maserati. In World War I he served in the Italian infantry returning to Isotta-Fraschini at the end of hostilites and building his first car.

He left Isotta-Fraschini to start his own tuning business working on Hispano-Suiza engines. In 1925 he went to Paris on holiday, spent all his money including his return fare and ended up staying and marrying a Frenchwoman in 1926.

Initially he worked for a company repairing Hispano-Suizas but in 1925 he set up his own business in Suresnes, near the Fiat assembly plant.

He took on Franch nationality in 1930 and changed his name for Amedeo to Amédée

He began to modify and tune Fiats and in 1934, when Pigozzi began to build Fiat copies under the Simca name, he began to tune Simca engines. His first successes came that year with victory in Bol d'Or at Saint-Germain and this was followed by many other class victories including the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1938 and 1939.

In the 1940s, his son Aldo joined his racing team as a mechanic and occasional driver.

In September 1945 Gordini became the first man to win a post-war event in the Robert Benoist Cup in the Bois de Boulogne. He moved his operations to the Boulevard Victor and built his first proper racing cars. In 1946 he scored an important win in the Grand Prix de Marseille and in the years that followed, the Simca-Gordini team became a force to be reckoned with, notably with Jean-Pierre Wimille at the wheel.

Sadly Wimille was killed in January 1949 driving a Simca-Gordini in Argentina and although Gordini increased the size of his engines and supercharged them for the new Formula 1 in 1950, he struggled to compete with the Italians. He built new engines for 1952 and Jean Behra scored Simca-Gordini's most famous victory later that year at Reims. However Simca's support waned as available money was used to invest in production to meet the huge demand for small cars and 1956 stopped all support.

Fortunately Renault came to the rescue and asked him to develop the Dauphine into a competitive rally car. Gordini closed down the workshops in the Boulevard Victor and joined Renault. In the years that followed he developed the Renault 8 for racing and helped Alpine with its efforts at Le Mans.

At the end of 1968 the Gordini company was merged into Renault and the following year moved to the Usine Amedee Gordini at Viry-Chatillon, which eventually became the headquarters of Renault Sport. Many of Gordini's young engineers went on to play important roles in the Renault F1 programme.

In 1953 the government of France awarded Amédée Gordini the Legion of Honor.

Amédée Gordini died in 1979 in Paris and was buried in the Montmartre Cemetery.

Leave a comment

Comments