The Complete History Of Pininfarina In Detail - SUV VEHICLE

The Complete History Of Pininfarina In Detail

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Summary

  • Pininfarina – A renowned Italian design house known for iconic automotive designs like Ferrari Testarossa and Alfa Romeo Spider.
  • From humble beginnings in 1930, Pininfarina has evolved to collaborate with automotive elites, politicians, and expand into other design areas.
  • Under Indian conglomerate Mahindra’s ownership, Pininfarina continues to innovate with projects like a hydrogen-powered SUV and the powerful Battista.



Pininfarina. It’s a name that evokes automotive emotion. Elegant concepts, awe-inspiring design, and distinctive shapes all come to mind when thinking about the world-famous Italian design house. The Maserati Quattroporte, Ferrari Testarossa, Alfa Romeo Spider, Peugeot 205, and Bentley Azure are just a few of the iconic designs that Pininfarina is responsible for. The brand, however, comes from humble beginnings and grew to become involved with automotive elites, and politicians and even helped the Italian war effort during World War Two.

The icon of Italian style was founded by Battista “Pinin” Farina back in 1930 in the town of Turin as a niche coach builder and design firm. Over the years, Pininfarina has garnered a strong reputation for emotive design, thanks in most part to its involvement with Italian automotive giants like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Fiat.


Today, the brand is owned by Indian automotive conglomerate Mahindra, which purchased a majority stake in Pininfarina in 2015 and has since expanded from automotive design to other areas, which include yacht, airplane, and architectural design. In this feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at the history of this legendary Italian firm.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from Pininfarina, and other authoritative sources, including carrozzieri-italiani.com, autocar.com, and Hotcars.com.

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Pininfarina The Man, The Myth, The Legend


Battista Farina, nicknamed “Pinin” which is Italian for little brother, was born on the second of November 1893 in Turin, Italy. As a little brother, Battista learned from his father, who was a coachbuilder, and began his career at the age of 12 in his brother, Giovanni’s workshop, Stabilimenti Farina. It’s here that he began learning about sheet metal, and bodywork, and evolved to eventually design his own unique bodies for clients, including Lancia, which then was a brand that was associated with the wealthy upper echelons of society.

In 1930, Battista formed Carrozeria Pininfarina with the aim of designing and building car bodies for rich private clients. At the time, all vehicles were built as two main separate parts: the chassis, often a ladder frame, and the body. This allowed for clients with deep pockets, a level of automotive personalization that defined the era.


Backing from Lancia

Vincenzo Lancia was an Italian racing driver, engineer, owner, and founder of Lancia automobiles. At the helm of a brand that spoke to the excessively rich, Vincenzo had a problem. His Lancia Lambda was the world’s first monocoque or unibody vehicle. Doing away with the separate chassis and body design, the Lambda, of which 400 were made initially in 1923, made it difficult to be customized by external coachbuilders.

Of course, Vincenzo saw how this could affect his clients and effectively his business, so he had Stabilimenti Farina work on the Lambda and built a relationship with none other than Battista. Vincenzo encouraged and financially supported the formation of Battista’s business and the rest, as they say, is history.


What’s in a name?

Following years of iconic designs for influential clients and even heads of state, in 1961 Battista had his family name officially changed from Farina to Pininfarina. The name was authorized by the then-president of the Italian Republic, who acted on a proposal made by the minister of justice. In the same year, Battista left the management of the company to his son, Sergio Pininfarina, and son-in-law Guido Carli, who continued to work closely with Lancia.

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Pininfarina automotive design history

Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Pininfarina Coupe showcase
Wikimedia Commons

In 1931 the first Pininfarina special, a Lancia Dilambda, the follow-up model to the Lambda, was presented to the world at Concours d’Elegance at Villa d’Este. What followed was a flurry of more minimalist yet sleek designs that did away with the exposed fenders and side steps popular during the time. Multiple designs for Lancia followed with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and even Cadillac joining the list of vehicles altered by Pininfarina.


Getting into bed with Ferrari

This began in 1951 with a meeting at a restaurant in Tortona, a small town between Modena and Turin. This neutral location was chosen as neither Battista nor Enzo Ferrari would meet at each other’s headquarters. Since that meeting, a 61-year-long relationship was formed where only a single road-going Ferrari was not designed by Pininfarina, the Dino 308 GT4. This relationship came to an end in 2013 with the birth of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta the very last to be penned by Pininfarina.

Designs penned for the Prancing Horse:

  • 2016 – Ferrari SP275 RW Competitzione
  • 2014 – Ferrari SP FFX
  • 2006 – Ferrari 612 Kappa
  • 1996 – Ferrari FX
  • 1980 – Ferrari Pinin
  • 1969 – Ferrari 512S Berlinetta Speciale
  • 1959 – Ferrari 400 Superamerica Coupe Speciale
  • 1955 – Ferrari 375 America


Post World War Two

After the Second World War, Pininfarina could resume work on their designs, but Italy was banned from the 1946 Paris Motor Show. Despite this, Pinin and Sergio drove two of their latest designs, an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 S and a Lancia Aprilia cabriolet, from Turin to Paris, and made space for themselves at the entrance to the exhibition. The pair of vehicles caused a stir among the press and public and allowed for the design house to build momentum into the 1950s when car design would again change.

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The most desirable cars ever penned

Red Ferrari Enzo, front on with doors open
Ferrari

With the plethora of designs, it’s hard to single out the best to come from the Pininfarina stable, but there are a few that stand out among the crowd. These are designs that have stood the test of time, those that inspired generations to follow, and even some imitations. Style is a subjective thing but many, car lovers or not, would agree that the following designs are some of the best to ever grace the road.


Ferrari Testarossa

The Paris Motor Show in October 1984 saw the unveiling of the glorious wedge-shaped Testarossa as the follow-up act to the 512 BBi. Pininfarina’s design broke with tradition and absolutely shot the lights out on this one. The iconic shape featured large side intakes with long elongated strakes that would run down the side of the car. This would become the Testarossa’s most recognizable feature.

These intakes fed a raucous 4,9-liter flat-12 behind the cabin. A facelift in 1991 saw the Testarossa morph into the 512 TR with the final version coming in 1994 with the arrival of the F512 M.

Alfa Romeo Spider

A design so timeless, the Alfa Romeo Spider, also known as the Duetto, stayed in production from 1966 to 1994. The design is wonderfully simplistic and is the archetypal two-seater, front-engined rear-drive roadster. Previewed to the world at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show, the Spider’s 1,570 cc engine offered a twin-cam design, dual Weber twin-barrel, side-draft carburetors, and produced 108 horsepower.


Due to the shape of its long, round tail, the Series 1 Spider is sometimes known as the Osso di seppia Italian for cuttlebone or boat tail. To differentiate it from the “Kamm tail” Series 2, in North America the Series 1 is sometimes called the dovetail spider.

Just to name a few:

  • 1947 – Lancia Aprilia
  • 1956 – Alfa Romeo 6C
  • 1957 – Abarth 500 Coupe
  • 1961 – Cadillac Jacqueline (named after Jacqueline Kennedy)
  • 1965 – Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Sport
  • 1975 – Peugeot Peugette
  • 1984 – Honda HP-C Concept
  • 1991 Opel Chronos

Pininfarina Battista, Worthy Of The name?

Black Color Pininfarina Battista Anniversario
Pininfarina 


As expected from Pininfarina, the Battista boasts a stunning design characterized by aerodynamic lines, sculpted curves, and a focus on both beauty and functionality. For us, it’s certainly worthy of the name and a fitting tribute to the legacy of the man who created the company back in 1930.

Potent Performance

At the heart of the Battista lies its groundbreaking all-electric powertrain. It’s a feat of engineering with four electric motors, one at each wheel, that combine to deliver a staggering 1,900 horsepower and an immense 1,696 pound-feet of torque. This power output catapults the Batista from 0 to 60 mph in under 2.0 seconds, firmly establishing its status as one of the fastest-accelerating production cars ever made. The numbers alone speak for themselves.


Electric Motor

Quad-motor setup

Power Output

1,900 horsepower and 1,696 pound-feet of torque

0-62 mph

1,86 seconds

Top speed

217 mph

Electric Range

295 miles

Battery

120 kWh

Transmission

Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

Price

$2,4 million

The Devil In The Detail

Beyond its blistering speed, the Battista’s design ethos is a fitting tribute to Pininfarina’s legacy of crafting automotive masterpieces. Every curve, every line, and each and every detail is meticulously sculpted to enhance aerodynamic efficiency while absolutely looking the part. It’s the sort of car that should adorn bedroom walls. Inside, it’s a work of art too, with a tech-laden driver-focused cabin that uses high-quality materials and handbuilt finishes.


Production of the Battista is limited, with only 150 units planned to be built worldwide. Each car is meticulously crafted, reflecting the exclusivity and craftsmanship associated with a hypercar of this caliber.

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