Sergio Pininfarina: Car designer hailed for his classic Ferrari marques

 

The name of Pininfarina is indelibly associated with the Ferrari supercar marque. The design house, which was led by Sergio Pininfarina for 40 years, created many legendary Ferrari designs, including the 250 GT Coupé (1958), the Daytona (1968) and the Testarossa (1984). His personal favourite was the 1965 Dino Berlinetta Speciale, the last model on which he worked with his father.

Pininfarina was born Sergio Farina in Turin in 1926. His father, Battista, founded Carrozzeria Pinin Farina, an automotive coachbuilder, in 1930. The son joined the company at the age of 20 after graduating from Turin Polytechnic with a degree in mechanical engineering.

The company's connection with Ferrari began five years later. Recalling the first meeting, which he set up between his father and Enzo Ferrari, Sergio said, "I remember that we met in a restaurant and had lunch and immediately the two great men had a great sympathy and feeling for each other. They both wished to start this co-operation... My father had the feeling Ferrari was a new, young firm that would become representative of the Italian industry, especially in the sporting field."

The first model to result from the partnership was a cabriolet built on a Ferrari chassis, the 212 Inter Cabriolet. It was exhibited at motor shows in Turin and Paris, where the display car was bought on sight by the Italian film director Roberto Rossellini. Maurice Gatsonides (Independent obituary, 22 December 1998), who drove the car in the 1000km Nürburgring race, said "I was to have the most magnificent car of the whole field, as this Ferrari was bodied by Pininfarina and carried a four-seat drophead coupé with graceful lines, a sure winner at any Concours d'Elegance".

Pininfarina was soon managing the relationships with motor manufacturers, and design contracts for Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Peugeot quickly followed. In 1955 Prince Philip visited the British Motor Corporation headquarters and was shown the latest models by the company's then chairman Sir Leonard Lord. Sensing that the Prince was unimpressed by the designs, Lord called in Pininfarina for help and inspiration. The result was a range of cars including the Austin A40, Austin 1100 and MG MGB.

In 1961 Pininfarina was made managing director, and when his father died half a decade later it was a logical step for him to take over the chairmanship, going on to lead the company for the next 40 years.

Recognising the importance of aerodynamics for speed and fuel efficiency, Pininfarina built the first wind tunnel in Italy in 1972, one of the first in the world to be used for car design. His techniques continue to be used today by the company for the design of innovative models including the recently announced Nido EV electric prototype.

Projects in the 1990s and the early part of this century included vehicles such as the Peugeot 406 Coupé (1997) and Hyundai Matrix (2001). Auto Express said of the 406 Coupé: "Like finding a designer suit on the shelves at your local supermarket, the Pininfarina-styled Peugeot 406 Coupé set new standards for family car makers... Rumour has it the model was originally pencilled as part of a bid to tempt Ferrari into the cut-price supercar market. But when the designs failed to sell, the stylists passed them to Peugeot."

In 2006 Pininfarina handed over to his eldest son, Andrea. When he died in a scooter accident two years later, control went to the younger son, Paolo. Pininfarina had moved into manufacturing for companies such as Mitsubishi and at its peak was able to produce some 50,000 vehicles per year. However, the company had grown too quickly, resulting in debts of 600 million euros. Following restructuring in 2009, the firm now once again concentrates on its design activities.

Pininfarina was head of the Italian business organisation, Confindustria, from 1988 to 1992 and became a senator for life in 2005. Among many awards, he received the Premio Leonardo in 1999 from the Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, the Palme d'Or at the Festival Automobile International (2005) and the Prix Européen de Design Automobile (2006).

Luca di Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari, said: "Calling his relation with Ferrari legendary is insufficient. First with Enzo and then with me, he designed some of the most iconic models, such as the Testarossa or the Enzo, just to name two." Pininfarina, he added, "connected his name indissolubly with our history and our success. Sergio was one of the most important advocates of 'Made in Italy' all over the world, a man who gave Italy credibility and splendor."

Sergio Farina (Sergio Pininfarina), car designer: born Turin 8 September 1926; married 1951 Giorgia Gianolio (one daughter, one son, and one son deceased); died Turin 3 July 2012.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick