Battista “Pinin” Farina (72), founder of the Pininfarina coachbuilding company, and synonymous with some of the best-known classic Italian sports cars, died

Sunday 3rd April 1966

Battista “Pinin” Farina (72), founder of the Pininfarina coachbuilding company, and synonymous with some of the best-known classic Italian sports cars, died. At the age of 12, he began working beside his brother; five years later, when Giovanni set up his own shop, Stablimenti Industriali Farina S.A., to repair and build automobile bodies, young Pinin followed him as an apprentice. In spite of his youth, Farina was put in charge of design, which is how he came to meet Agnelli and win the older man’s respect. His curiosity took him across the sea to America, where he met Henry Ford. He was offered a job with the Ford Motor Company, but chose to return to Italy, carrying with him an appreciation for the free enterprise system and the creativity it inspired. Farina took up racing, to the consternation of his wife and mother, and in 1921 drove his own car to victory in the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo race, beating prepared race cars and setting a course record that would stand for 11 years. It was during his racing days that he met a number of influential people, among them Vincenzo Lancia.In 1930, Farina decided the time had come to set out on his own. With the support of Lancia and a wealthy aunt, he opened a shop on Corso Trapani in Turin, and hired 100 employees. Already well known by his childhood nickname, he christened his new business Carrozzeria Pinin Farina, and chose as its emblem the familiar rectangle with a lower-case “f” (for “Farina”) set off by red triangles in the upper left and lower right corners and topped with a crown.His plan was to construct custom bodies to order, as well as to produce small runs of six to a dozen examples of special models that he would sell directly to the public. Much of the carrozzeria’s earliest work was on Italian chassis-those of his friend Lancia, as well as Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Isotta Fraschini and others. Farina’s earliest designs were well-proportioned, conservative efforts in the Italian style, with heavy emphasis on unbroken horizontal lines. Intent on expanding the influence of the coachbuilder on chassis design, he persuaded Vincenzo Lancia that his radiators should be tilted back in the aerodynamic style then being pioneered in Europe. As his style developed, he would often be influenced by his peers, finding inspiration in Pontiac’s Silver Streaks, Gordon Buehrig’s Cord 812, and the Grand Prix cars of Mercedes-Benz. By 1939, he had 500 workers and was producing two cars per day. After World War II, when the Paris Auto Show barred him from participating as a citizen of a former Axis power, Farina and his son, Sergio, were audacious enough to drive two new cars, an Alfa Romeo Sport 2500 and a Lancia Aprilia cabriolet, to Paris, parking the cars outside the entrance to the motor show. “This devil Farina has opened his own personal anti-salon,” grumbled the French press, but the crowds loved the cars.It was after the war that Farina was able to design what many consider his masterwork, and one of the most influential designs of all time, the Cisitalia 202 coupe of 1947. He had been involved in the design of the chassis from the beginning, and was able to realize many of his long-held dreams, including the horizontal radiator and seamless integration of the fenders with the body sides. Immortality arrived quickly; in 1951, the Museum of Modern Art in New York named the Cisitalia one of the ten great automotive designs of all time, and put the car on display. The company grew and prospered through the 1950s. Carrozzeria Pinin Farina now could not only design models for major manufacturers, but could build them in quantity as well. He created models based on the Lancia Aurelia, Alfa Romeo 1900 and 6C2500, Fiat 1100, and Maserati A6; he designed the 1952 Ambassador for Nash, and the Nash-Healey sports car as well. Designs for the British Motor Corporation and Peugeot flew off his drawing board. In 1958, he relocated the company to a larger site at Grugliasco, outside Turin. Of course, the single marque most closely associated with Farina is Ferrari, and it is probably inevitable that he and his fellow Italian, Enzo, would meet. Sergio has said that both men were too stubborn to visit the other’s factories, and that their first meeting was at a restaurant midway between Turin and Maranello. Did Enzo really give Farina one minute to decide whether he would work for Ferrari or for Maserati? If that often-told story isn’t true, it certainly could be. In 1961, by decree of the president of Italy, he was granted the last name Pininfarina, to recognize his industrial and social contributions to the nation. He turned control of the company over to his son, Sergio, and his son-in-law, Renzo Carli, and devoted his later years to travel, filmmaking, and cultural and charitable works. Among his many honors, he received the key to the city of Detroit

Leave a Reply

365 Days Of Motoring

Recent Posts



I We have no wish to abuse copyright regulations and we apologise unreservedly if this occurs. If you own any of the material published please get in touch.