Design Masters: The Pininfarina clan

The Scots are proud of their many clans, and the Americans brought us ‘Dynasty’. In Italy, loyalty to the family is all, and no other ‘clan’ is as strongly represented in the automotive world as Pininfarina. Classic Driver takes a look at its leading members.


Masters of Design: The Pininfarina clan

The Godfather - Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina

Breaking away from the family company Stabilimenti Farina, in 1928 Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina set up on his own as ‘Carrozzeria Pinin Farina’. Based in Turin, on 22 May 1930 the company was incorporated as a corporation, Società anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina. Building bodies for a variety of companies pre-War (not all Italian, note – Cadillac and Rolls-Royce enjoyed the company’s work, too) his finest design was probably after WW2, the groundbreaking Cisitalia 202 Coupé. He then went on to enjoy a fruitful design and coachbuilding partnership with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari throughout the 1950s.

Masters of Design: The Pininfarina clan

The Creative Mind - Sergio Pininfarina

Inspired by the work of his father, Sergio Pininfarina (the name-change was formally authorised by the president of Italy in 1961) went into the family business in 1950. He cut his teeth on seminal designs for Ferrari and, in 1966, after the death of his father, he took over management of the company. His designs range from mundane Austin saloons to the very first mid-engined ‘Dino’ Ferraris (he was to sit on Ferrari's board of directors).

In addition to his design work, Sergio Pininfarina helped grow the company by building a wind tunnel and developing contacts with everyday, mass manufacturers such as Peugeot. He also introduced new blood, his son Andrea, to the business.

Masters of Design: The Pininfarina clan

Bringing Hope - Andrea Pininfarina

Like his father, Andrea Pininfarina also graduated from the Polytechnic of Turin. After business training in America with the Fruehauf corporation, he returned to Italy in 1983 to supervise the Cadillac Allanté project. His core strengths were in the commercial, rather than the creative, world although as with any family member he appreciated good design, leading the company into many non-automotive areas. He was killed in a road traffic accident, aged 51, in 2008.

Masters of Design: The Pininfarina clan

The Young Gun - Paolo Pininfarina

Despite the tragic death of Andrea, the company is still in good (family) hands with another of Sergio’s children, Paolo Pininfarina, at the helm. Excellent design skills are in his blood and, in addition to automotive work, the Paolo Pininfarina Extra studio is responsible for cutting-edge industrial design, having produced kitchens, aeroplanes, express trains and telephones.

Text: J. Philip Rathgen
Photos: Pininfarina