review on Pininfarina
At only 5 ft (1.5 meters) tall, Ballista Farina’s
nickname of Pinin – “kid” – is altogether fitting:
so much so in fact that the name stuck and late in life he changed it
officially. He founded a design centre of true genius, which his son Sergio
continues to run from Turin, the capital city of Italian and indeed world
The pinnacle of car
To cast back over the company’s long list of production greats confirm
the consistency of quality and proportion that distinguishes his work.
From the revolutionary 1945 Cistalia (displayed in the New York Museum
of Modern Art) 1952, have almost exclusively earned die Pininfarina badge),
the mark of genius is evident in the little blue ‘f’ badge
with a crown on top. In between are dozens of designs for Alfa Romeo,
Fiat, Peugeot, Honda, Rolls-Royce and many others.
Pininfarina's dream cars are united by one theme: a flowing shape and
perfect proportions. While others explored geometric shapes. Farina was
inspired by the way snow in the Italian mountains was shaped by the winds,
and the wind-cheating shapes of all his cars owe something to this stimulus.
Others claimed that Farina said his ground breaking stimulus came from
well-formed female shapes.
art of aerodynamics
Pininfarina was one of the first companies to install a wind tunnel (in
1972). A direct result of testing in this environment was the PF-CXR family-
size car, which achieved a world record Cd figure of 0.161 and had a curious
banana-shaped form: Pininfarina proved it could be practical by creating
a version with air intakes, lights, and mirrors (though the Cd figure
increased lo 0.23).
Not that aerodynamics was a new art-form, as the 1960 PFX proved. This
footprints in its search for wind-cheating efficiency. A seminal aerodynamic
study was the 1967 Dino 206SR based on a front and rear spoilers and gullwing
doors. In die 1960s, Pininfarina yet none of them had the glitzy elegant.
One of the most influential was undoubtedly the 206 Dino and later Ferrari
365 P Special Berlinetta, which led directly to die Dino production car.
Ferraris and Alias
was always Ferrari’s favored couturier, not surprisingly in the
light of such brilliant dream-car designs as the 250/P5 Berlinetta and
the superbly clean P6 Herlinella. Possibly the zenith of this golden era
of mid-engine fantasy were the Ferrari 512 prototype and very similar-looking
Alfa Romeo 33 prototype, whose exquisite sculpted sides, gullwing doors
and ultra-low profile clearly inspired the Boxer and Countach of the following
years lo come. was the 1968 Alfa Romeo P/33 Roadster, based on the mid-engine
as evidenced by the row- of six headlamps, front stabilizing fins, cut-down
wind deflector (airdam) and prominent rear spoiler.
the 1970 Modulo, based on the ultra-rare Ferrari 51 2S racer, the were
explored to the absolute limit. It’s very low bodywork formed an
almost flat, almost symmetrical arc and was made by joining separate upper
and lower halves together. The prominent waistline strip - so low that
it could almost be called an ankle-line - was allowed to run uninterrupted
right around the car, including the wheels. These were covered with spats
(skirts) which incorporated cut-outs in their tops. To allow entry, a
one-piece canopy cantilevered forward.
Peugeot and Jaguar
Equally dramatic was die 1984 Studio IIPX, a mid-engine super car using
a 2.0-litre Honda Formula 2 V-eight engine. Its striking shape was highly
aerodynamic, partly owing to ground effect technology and the curious
extended canopy (a Cd figure of 0.2b was claimed).
Widely admired for its simplicity was the 1976 Peugette, an exercise in
virtual symmetry of form. In fact the front and rear bodywork sections
were completely interchangeable, and hinged up in identical fashion. The
lights were housed in bumpers, and the interior was marvelously unadorned.
Its mechanical basis was the Peugeot 104.
The 1978 XJ Spider showed what the fabled Jaguar E-type might have become.
On the basis of a Jaguar V-twelve engine, a timelessly elegant body was
created, picking up the E-type themes of an oval front air intake and
a profile, which bulged over the front and rear wheels. Jaguar’s
boss Sir John Egan fell in love with the XJ Spider and even developed
its themes with the intention of launching an F-Type Jaguar. This was
scotched, but it’s enlightening to see how the current XK8 picks
up many of the XJ Spider’s details.
Perhaps even more elegant than the Jaguar study was Farina’s Ferrari-based
study for a four-door ear of two years later, called simply Pinin. In
proportion it was supremely correct, and its sharp yet soft-edged style
predicted the way many cars would be designed in the late 1980s. Ferrari
never officially made a four-door car, and after seeing the Pinin many
observers felt they ought to have done so.
Chronos and Ethos
After doing several relatively “sensible” concept cars (such
as the 1988 HIT based on Lancia Delta HF mechanicals), it was time in
1989 to try something more ambitious, and the Mythos was the result. The
designers at Pininfarina based the car on the Ferrari Testarossa.
The 1991 Chronos was a serious stab at a two-seater coupe based on Lotus
Carlton/Omega running gear. Pininfarina wanted to persuade General Motors
to go into production with the Chronos but ultimately did not succeed,
probably because the shape was slightly disappointing for a Farina.
The same cannot be said of the 1992 Ethos, which also seemed capable of
becoming a highly production car. It used an Australian-made, Orbital
1.2 liter two-stroke engine mounted amidships and a sequential five-speed
The Ethos body was penned by Stephane Schwarz, and was a steeply raked
pure sport scar with deeply indented sides, virtually cycle-type rear
wings, head fairings and a bold, stark interior with twin silver bars
for a dashboard. At one stage, Honda looked likely to produce the Ethos,
but the Orbital two-stroke engine unfortunately suffered many delays and
the project faltered, despite the appearance of an Ethos II coupe.
The Ethos III of 1994 attempted to reinvent the city car. Into a body
barely longer than a Fiat Cinquecento, seals Pininfarina managed to squeeze
six seats— two rows of three with the middle seal offset. Crucial
to the compact dimensions was the tiny 1.2 liter three-cylinder Orbital
two-stroke engine. Lightweight aluminum kept the weight 1720 lb (780kg)
and helped create 63mpg (100kpg) fuel economy.
Honda and Fiat
A 16-year co-operation with Honda was finally cemented in 1995 with the
Argento Vivo sports car concept. This was a power-top roadster with striking
polished aluminum boot and bonnet (trunk and hood), blue body work and
wide use of plywood. It was notable for a folding transparent roof, which
could also be left in a targa position. Unfortunately- Honda was already
developing a similar car in the SSM, and the Argento Vivo remained a scintillating
For the 1996 Turin show, Fiat asked various stylists to come up with ideas
on its Bravo/ Brava. Pininfarina’s concept was the Song, a compact
MPV with a multi-adaptable interior and more than a hint of off-road influence
in its roof rails, clipped overhangs and chunky wheels. At the same show
was the Eta Beta, powered by a hybrid petrol/electric (gasoline/ electric)
system and featuring a tail section extendable by 8 in (20 cm) for extra
In 1997 Pininfarina continued its rich tradition as the world’s
leading design house; its advance Nautilus saloon (sedan) car concept
for Peugeot proved that it was still very much on the leading edge of