Pininfarina: Tradition and Innovation


BATTISTA ‘PININ’ FARINA founded his company in May 1930. It was launched as a specialist coachbuilder for private customers and small production runs. Right from the start the company undertook commissions from major Italian manufacturers, and at the Paris motor show of that year, cars badged Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Isotta-Franchini and Fiat appeared that were penned by Farina. The company continued to push boundaries of design and innovation in the immediate post-war years. In 1947 New York’s Museum of Modern Art exhibited the Pininfarina Cisitalia. The automobile was recognised by the art establishment to be worthy of exhibition. It now set the tone for Pininfarina’s image for the subsequent decades.

Drop tops
In the fifties Pininfarina produced a succession of drop-tops with the Lancia Aurelia and the Alfa Romeo Giuletta Spider. The decade’s successes culminated, however, in the sublime 250 GT SWB for Ferrari, an instant and durable classic that proved itself on the track as well as the road. The early success with the SWB encouraged the collaboration that continues to this day. In the sixties cars like the Ferrari P6 produced innovations that informed Maranello supercars of the seventies and eighties like the Berlinetta Boxer series and the 308. Now with Battista’s son at the helm, the Italian touch was introduced to Peugeot with the design of the 504 Coupé. The 504 would become Europe’s top-selling 2-litre car of 1968.

Art for the masses
Throughout the latter years of the 20th century, the company continued to produce beautiful designs for a huge variety of customers, notably the era-defining Lancia Beta Monte Carlo, Ferrari’s F40 and Testarossa as well as Peugeot’s mass market 205, 405 and 106. With global markets broadening, in the 1990s the Italian masters of design for the first time worked with Mitsubishi on the Pajero SUV, and began to explore the huge possibilities of the rapidly growing Chinese car market.

Back to the future
In 2005, the company celebrated its 75th anniversary by unveiling the Ferrari Superamerica in Detroit, and later the Maserati and Motorola-inspired birdcage concept that swept design awards that year. With recent hits in the shape of Ferrari’s F430 Spider and the Alfa Romeo Brera, Pininfarina looks set to continue one of the grandest traditions in styling.