From design to engineering, Pininfarina got its hands on everything from Ferrari to Peugeot. While there’re plenty of examples, here are some of the best:
1930 would see the birth of one of the world’s most influential and dynamic coachbuilders – Pininfarina S.p.A. Battista “Pinin” Farina, Pininfarina’s founder, broke away from his brother’s coachbuilding firm, Stabilimenti Farina, and in 1928 he founded “Carrozzeria Pinin Farina” with some family help.
In his first year, Pininfarina employed 18 people and built 50 car shells and in 1930, he registered to become a fully-fledged company. Just nine years later and he had 400 employees building 150 car bodies per month and he was working with some of the world’s biggest brands such as Cadillac, Fiat, Rolls-Royce, Alfa Romeo and Lancia.
1936 Lancia Astura Cabriolet “Tipo Bocca”
It’s believed that only six of these were ever built and it can only be described as a thing of magnificence with its mile-long bonnet, chrome coach lines, rear teardrop wheel covers and hydraulically operated soft top. Underneath was a 2.9-litre V8 that produced a rather puny 82bhp, but it really didn’t matter in a car such as the Astura. In 2022, one sold at auction for a mighty $1,380,000 (around £1,148,367).
It was quite common back in the 50s and 60s to be able to spec a car depending on your need and the 403 was no different. If you had the school run, you could get a Familiale estate, or if you were a milkman, you could ask for a pickup instead of rear seats. Pininfarina worked its magic on the 403, incorporating ponton styling which got rid of running boards and articulated fenders, and it was given odd 90-degree opening doors. This collaboration sealed a partnership and Pininfarina would provide Peugeot with designs for the next 50 years.
Ferrari 250 GT SWB
Described as one of Ferrari’s most iconic models, the 250 GT SWB was very good-looking and came in both coupe and cabriolet forms. From 1952 to 1964, Ferrari built plenty of 250s that all had racing hearts, but the 250 GT SWB had a 2.4m (94.5in) wheelbase unlike the normal 2.6m (102.4in) cars, allowing it to ballet dance around racetracks with ease and making it more competitive. The harmony between Scaglietti’s craftsmanship and Pininfarina’s design resulted in a staggering car but seeing one today may be tricky as only 176 were built, some with steel bodies and some with alloy.
Alfa Romeo Spider “Duetto”
Before its launch, Alfa Romeo never really had a name for its new sports car, so it ended up in the hands of a public competition and the name “Duetto” was picked. A year after its launch, it was discovered that a large confectionary firm already had the Duetto name for one of their chocolate biscuits and Alfa was forced to drop it, defaulting to the Spider 1600. The bulbous bodywork, sloped nose and boat-tailed boot meant that it quickly gained the nickname “cuttlefish bone”. Alfa built the Spider up until 1993.
Under the Daytona’s long sharp-edged nose was a 352bhp 4.4-litre V12 that could push it to 174mph. Leonardo Fioravanti, who worked previously on the Dino, was brought back in to design the Daytona which saw the traditional rounded Ferrari look being replaced with a more modern design. Earlier cars had recessed headlights under acrylic glass lenses, but these were later swapped out to nifty pop-up headlights due to a US safety regulation that banned headlight covers. The Daytona name was given by the media while the correct name for the coupe is the 365 GTB/4 and the 365 GTS/4 for the cabriolet.
Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer
Ferrari needed to replace the front-engined Daytona and in 1971 they teased the new 365 GT4 BB at the Turin motor show. Its styling was massively influenced by the Ferrari P6 Berlinetta Speciale concept car of 1968 and had a wedged nose, steep windshield and pop-up headlights. It was finely tuned in Pininfarina’s wind tunnel to keep things as slippery as possible and a small spoiler was added behind the cabin to not only reduce drag but to feed air directly into the fruity flat-12 below.
Peugeot 205 Cabriolet
There’s a large following with the 205 especially when it comes to the hot GTi 1.6 and 1.9 variants. And it’s often thought that Pininfarina was behind the design of those, but this wasn’t the case, as it was Gérard Welter; Pininfarina only designed the 205 Cabriolet, and it was rather handsome. The rear had been chopped, a manual soft top was added, and the B-pillar was now a rollover bar too. Later, a 205 CTI arrived and it had a beefed-up floor pan and sills which meant it weighed 85kg more than the GTi.
It already oozed class in its Continental R form, but Bentley requested the assistance of Pininfarina to chop off the Continental’s top, without damaging its street cred, and they did a fabulous job. Pininfarina got to work by building the shell and soft top at its Italian factory from UK-sourced parts and everything was then shipped back to Crewe for the final assembly. The soft top was crafted from heavy material and as a result, people had to dig deeper and fork out £22,590 more than the equivalent Continental R.
Peugeot 406 Coupe
Today, the 406 estate and saloon don’t look awful – in fact, they mingle quite well with today’s traffic, but the Coupe has always been the popular choice. Pininfarina pencilled together a sleek design that was originally intended for Fiat, but they weren’t interested and opted to design their coupe in-house. The design was then proposed to Peugeot who grabbed it and would go on to make 107,633 Coupes. Engine choices included a 2.0-litre, 2.2-litre and 3.0-litre V6 petrol while later cars received a 2.2-litre diesel option.
Ferrari 512 Testarossa
1984 arrived and the Berlinetta Boxer was hanging up its keys to make space for the new 512 Testarossa. Its name meant “red head” and referred to the painted cam covers on the monstrous 12-cylinder engines while also paying homage to the 1957 250 Testa Rossa racer. Its front sliced through the air like a warm knife through butter while the large side strikes fed the ravenous 4.9-litre flat-12 with air. A facelift arrived in 1991, giving us the 512 TR and eventually, the Testarossa bowed out in 1994 with the F512 M.
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