On May 22nd Battista “Pinin” Farina founded Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in Turin. The company was designed to build special car bodies for individual customers and small production runs. The Corso Trapani plant covered 9250 sqm and had 150 employees. In the 30s the car was a good reserved for minor élite, a toy for a narrow circle of bold youngsters. Yet Pinin felt sure that these unlikely and expensive jalopies would change quickly to become respectable tools of individual mobility.
Pinin immediately embraced modernity and aerodynamics. For him, it was a natural way of reidentifying cars. Aerodynamics, he wrote in his memoirs, is the “form of speed”. At the 1935 Milan Motor Show he exhibited the Alfa Romeo 6C Pescara Coupé aerodinamico. One year later, the Lancia Astura Cabriolet tipo Bocca: elegant craftsmanship for a small series of streamlined cabriolets introducing the unprecedented notion of limited replicas of a custom-built model. The Lancia Aprilia Aerodinamica followed, a revolutionary Berlinetta achieving an astonishing Cx of 0.40. Aerodynamics was no longer a metaphor for speed, but rather a real standard of efficiency.
War, rebirth, fame
Destroyed by World War II, the Carrozzeria Pinin Farina started production with the Lancia Aprilia Bilux. In the early 50s, the international fame and success of Pinin Farina’s factory-workshop grew. Pinin Farina created the Cisitalia 202, first car in the world permanently displayed in a Museum of Modern Art, namely the MoMA in New York, as ‹‹one of the eight outstanding cars of our time››: “Running Sculpture”, according to the definition of Arthur Drexler, the Cisitalia was realised on tubular chassis and manufactured in limited series with an aluminum body welded to a skeleton of fine sheet steel. Its design marked a decisive turning point in the automotive style.
From the artigianal dimension to the industrial one
‹‹Ferrari and Pinin? It won’t last. It’s like putting two Prima Donna in the same opera››. This was the general opinion bandied round the automotive environment in the 50s. However, since Pinin and Enzo Ferrari met, their combined marques have defined some of the most beautiful cars ever built in a constantly evolving relationship that has now lasted for about 60 years. In 1951 the Ferrari 212 saw the light to be followed, in 1954, by the 250 GT.
The Pinin Farina style also conquered the American cinema, with the movie ‹‹Sabrina›› by Billy Wilder, starring Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Humphrey Bogart and the Nash Healey Spider. In 1955, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, nicknamed ‹‹fair girl›› by Pinin, was the decisive passage to the industrial dimension (more than 27,000 units manufactured).
In 1959 the Ferrari 250 GT Short Wheel Base was born as ‹‹the Ferrari›› epitome. Archetype of the Ferrari-Pininfarina technical-aesthetic process of evolution, it expressed sporty performance and timeless elegance. In 1960 the Pininfarina X was presented: a perfect combination of scientific research with an original and revolutionary shape.
At 68, Pinin turned his firm over to his son Sergio and son-in-law, Renzo Carli. The Italian Republic President Gronchi authorized the change.
In 1966, Battista Pininfarina died in Lausanne and Sergio Pininfarina became the Chairman. Not much changed in terms of the quality of design work. Pininfarina’s design continued to be a result of a balance between different qualities, such as design sensitivity, taste, technical research, and innovation. This led to the inauguration of the Studies and Research Centre in Grugliasco.
At the Geneva Motor Show in 1966, the Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider debuted, later known as ‹‹Duetto››, made famous by the film ‹‹The Graduate››. Radically revamped and with different names, it continued to be built by Pininfarina until 1993 (140,000 units). The Fiat 124 Sport Spider became one of the most successful models of Pininfarina (200,000 units), exported in large numbers to North America. The growing confidence in science gave rise to hefty investment in research and acquisitions of advanced equipment and plants. Creating ‹‹Centro di Calcolo e Disegno›› equipped with DEA Touching Machines was a decisive step towards design automation.
Studies and research
In the mid-70s following the Kippur War, the price of oil suddenly shot up and the prospect of a definitive scarcity of fuel loomed on the horizon. As a result, aerodynamics was again at the centre of attention in the world car industry. Thanks to the insight of young Chairman Sergio, Pininfarina possessed the instrument to measure scientifically the relationship between cars and their capacity for aerodynamic penetration, being able to offer clients a service which became a crucial part of the design process.
In the second half of the 70s, Sergio Pininfarina became more and more convinced of the need to drastically separate the Centro Studi e Ricerche from the industrial part to give greater visibility to the creative sector while ensuring the confidentiality of dealings with a broad range of demanding international clients. In 1978, in the middle of the worst crisis the car industry had ever suffered, work began on the Pininfarina Studi e Ricerche in Cambiano. Always going against the trend, the project required hefty investment, not to mention great courage.
Sergio Pininfarina, designer and businessman
In the 80s, period of market revival, Pininfarina offered clients a more comprehensive design service from a tailor-made centre equipped with facilities to foster creativity. Design activities then extended to other means of transportation and industry: Pininfarina Extra was created in 1986.
In 1986 the Company was quoted at the Stock Exchange, opened a new manufacturing plant in San Giorgio Canavese and presented the Allanté at the Paris Motor Show: for this luxury convertible Cadillac leaned on the design and manufacturing capacity of Pininfarina (22,000 units made), supplying Detroit with finished bodies via airbridge flown by Alitalia. With the Mythos concept, Pininfarina was the first among independent design companies to take part in the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989 and won the Car Design Award 1990. Sergio’s creative role was so important that in 1995 he was awarded the Compasso d’Oro, the same prize his father won forty years earlier. His significant institutional roles include: Chairman of Industrial Association of Turin (1978-1984), European Parliament (1979-1988), President of Confindustria-Confederation of Italian Industries (1988-1992).
Expansion of production activities
The Nineties were marked by the setting up of Pininfarina Deutschland GmbH, operating in the German market in the field of car engineering, tooling and model making, and by the production activity growing. Between 1992 and 1994 the range manufactured by Pininfarina was renewed with four new models: the Ferrari 456 GT, the Coupé Fiat, the Peugeot 306 Cabriolet and the Bentley Azure. In 1996 production of the Lancia k Station Wagon and the Peugeot 406 Coupé were added. Designed and developed by Pininfarina, the French Coupé received many prizes for the excellence of its design, among which ‹‹The Most Beautiful Coupé of the World 1997›› and ‹‹Car Design Award 1997››. Pininfarina’s industrial expansion continued with the opening of a third manufacturing plant in Bairo, following the historical Grugliasco plant and the San Giorgio one, opened in 1986. At the 1998 Turin Motor Show the Alfa Romeo Dardo debuted, a pure formal study of a spider with a powerful impact, awarded ‹‹Car of the Year››.
Tradition and Innovation
The inauguration of the Engineering Centre of Cambiano, in 2002, represented the decision to reposition the Company, putting engineering services on the market. The internationalization process made a step forward through the establishment of Pininfarina Sverige AB in Sweden, a joint venture with Volvo Cars responsible for producing a new generation of convertible Volvo cars.
While the partnership with Ferrari was still going on, the one with Maserati started again after 50 years: besides designing the multi-award winning Quattroporte, Pininfarina celebrated 75 years of activity with the world debut, at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show, of the concept ‹‹Birdcage 75th››, realized in collaboration with Maserati and Motorola, winner of the ‹‹Best Concept›› Award. The Pininfarina design yet proved itself: Paolo Pininfarina collected the ‹‹Red Dot: Design Team of the Year Award›› for the best design team in 2004. On May 12, 2006, the Board of Directors elected Andrea Pininfarina Chairman and CEO and Paolo Pininfarina Deputy Chairman. Sergio Pininfarina was elected Honorary Chairman by unanimous voice vote.
Pininfarina contributed to the success of Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games designing and manufacturing the Olympic Torch. Consistently with its vocation towards innovation, Pininfarina announced the development of the first Italian electric car in partnership with Bolloré, thus anticipating big OEMs on the ecomobility theme, and presented the Sintesi concept, which explored solutions for the car of the future.
Pininfarina celebrates 80 years with the spider 2uettottanta on Alfa Romeo mechanicals. The commitment to sustainable mobility continues with the electric car Nido EV and the concept car Cambiano, luxury sport sedan with electric traction. In July 2012 Life Senator Sergio Pininfarina passed away in Turin. He was celebrated in 2013 at the Geneva Motor Show with the unveiling of the Sergio, modern vision of a two-seater Barchetta. The marriage with Ferrari generated new successes: FF, 458 (Spider, Italia, Speciale, Speciale A), F12, California.
The mission of global designer was confirmed in 2013 by the Gran Lusso Coupé Pininfarina, exclusive interpretation of a luxurious BMW Coupe. Eurostar unveiled its new e320 train designed by Pininfarina. Contribution of Pininfarina Extra to brand enhancement increased with major projects in Europe, North and South America and Asia in the fields of interior design and architecture for international customers.
Pininfarina today and tomorrow
Starting from its roots and from the solid reputation achieved during more than 90 years of glorious history, Pininfarina has confirmed its role as standard-bearer of the aesthetic values of Italian design in the world. Today’s activities are focused on design (automotive and non-automotive), engineering services (product development, testing, prototype construction) and production of very small series or exclusive high-quality cars.