Bertone Suzuki Go: A Suzuki That Could Swim

Images: Archivio centrale dello Stato/Stile Bertone, Makarand Baokar

With the intention of attracting the attention of Suzuki Motors and the rapidly expanding Japanese automobile industry the Italian coachbuilding and design house of Bertone decided to develop the concept of a highly innovative amphibious vehicle.

An inflatable rubber dinghy with wheels, the Go was a most unusual exercise in exploring a niche

“I was inspired by the increasingly popular rubber inflatable dinghy boats,” confesses Marcello Gandini, the design chief at Bertone then.

Gandini came up with the design for a two-seat vehicle, featuring a fairly long and flat load bay on which anything from a snow scooter to a dirt bike could be loaded—with the help of a ramp, which doubled as the tailgate—that could be lowered by using pulleys driven by the steering wheel.

Powering the vehicle was a three-cylinder 67bhp Suzuki 750 motorcycle engine, with drive going to the rear wheels via a chain and a five-speed differential-inverter gearbox developed by Bertone themselves that gave the vehicle five forward as well as five reverse speeds!

The wing on the right—the side we see—housed the radiator, with the left side wing serving as a luggage box

The compact motor was located on the wing behind the driver, with the radiator and a luggage box snuggling into the wing aft of the passenger.

Painted a bright green the Go (as in go-anywhere) was a delightful back-to-basic design, sans doors, windows, windscreen, nothing. The seats consisted of strips of padding that allowed for water or snow to drip through.

The Suzuki Go photographed at Stile Bertone shortly before the collection was moved out

If one needed to take to water, the Go was designed to float and for propulsion all that was needed was to clamp an outboard motor to the tailgate. Chunky off-road tyres along with a very pronounced ground clearance and a light weight helped tackle dirt roads and snow.

Thoughtful details differentiated the Go from other concepts such as seats as strips that allowed water to pass through

A most interesting design feature was the asymmetrical air intake/extractor vents on the flanks—the ones on the left of the vehicle, where the engine was located, numbered more than the ones on the right.

...As well as headlamps housed within sealed covered nacelles

It was with the Go (and the Maserati Khamsin that followed) that Marcello Gandini began experimenting with asymmetrical detail motifs. “The Suzuki Go was a really fun project,” reminisces Gandini, “I really enjoyed working on developing the vehicle.”

Or the asymmetric set of vents to serve different needs

Unveiled in January 1972, at the Brussels Motor Show on the 12th of January, the Suzuki Go was one of those concept curiosities that remain interesting technological footnotes in the history of the automobile.

Side elevation illustration shows the location of the Suzuki engine; the pick-up bed space is more than enough for a dirt bike

Gautam Sen

Serial concours judge, author, founder-editor of several Indian auto mags, as well as co-conspirator with design greats Marcello Gandini, Tom Tjaarda, and Gérard Godfroy on a few vehicle projects


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