Born in Pistoia, he graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Pisa in Italy in 1953. He joined Alfa Romeo in 1952 and designed the Alfa Romeo 3000 CM sports car, moving on to Ferrari when Alfa's competition department was closed down in the late 1950s.
At Ferrari he was involved with the design of the famous Ferrari 156 Sharknose cars, with which Phil Hill won the 1961 championship. Shortly afterwards Chiti was part of the breakaway ATS Formula One team formed by a number of disaffected ex-Ferrari personnel. The ATS project was not a success and did not last long.
Through a new project, Autodelta, Chiti re-entered competitive motor racing in 1963. He rekindled his association with Alfa Romeo, for whom he designed a V8 and then a flat-12 engine for their Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 sportscars. These were eventually successful, winning the world championship for makes in 1975. At this time Chiti became involved in Formula One again, through the Brabham team, who signed an agreement with Alfa Romeo to use Chiti's engines. There was some success - Niki Lauda won two races in a Brabham BT46 with the Alfa engine in the 1978 Formula One season. Brabham designer Gordon Murray persuaded Chiti to produce a V-12 engine to allow ground effect to be exploited by the team. During the 1979 Formula One season, and after some persuasion by Chiti, Alfa Romeo gave Autodelta permission to start developing a Formula One car on their behalf. The partnership with Brabham finished before the end of the season.
The Alfa Formula One project was never truly successful. In 1984, Chiti left the project to set up another company, Motori Moderni which concentrated on producing engines, again for Formula One. Initially the company produced a V6 turbo design, used briefly by the small Italian Minardi team. When the banning of turbos from Formula One was announced Chiti designed a new 3.5 litre atmospheric flat-12 engine. This was eventually taken up by Subaru, who badged it for use in their brief and completely unsuccessful entry into Formula One with the tiny Coloni team in the 1990 Formula One season. This was abandoned midway through the season.
Carlo Chiti died in 1994 in Milan.
- "PEOPLE: CARLO CHITI". grandprix.com. http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/cref-chicar.html. Retrieved on 9 October 2007.
- "Swedish massage at 400km/h". drive.com.au. http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1850&vf=1. Retrieved on 9 February 2008.
- "Koenigsegg CC". autoweek.nl. http://www.autoweek.nl/nieuws.php?id=graadmeter.php?MODE=bekijken&id=288&cache=no. Retrieved on 9 October 2007. (Dutch)
- FORIX.com: Grand Prix engine designers