How Pininfarina Became A World Leader in Car Design

When car enthusiasts think of sleek, innovative, iconic design, Pininfarina often comes to mind. The storied car designer and engineering group has worked with some of the world’s most well-known brands.  Pininfarina was founded in 1930 by Battista “Pinin” Farina, who eventually, legally changed his last name to Pininfarina. The company’s headquarters have long been in Cambiano, Italy, but Pininfarina was first located in Turin, Italy.

Before branching off on his own in 1928, Battista worked for his brother’s coach building firm, Stabilimenti Farina. Soon after, Battista founded Carrozzeria Pinin Farina with financial backing from his in-laws and Vincenzo Lancia. May 22, 1930 marked the day that Battista filed papers to form his corporation, Societa Anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina, now known as Pininfarina.

During its earlier years, Pininfarina designed one of a kind cars for its customers, rather than mass manufacturing its designs. The company started out building car bodies for Cadillac, Fiat, Rolls-Royce, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo using unibody construction. World War II disrupted Pininfarina’s production and destroyed the firm’s equipment and manufacturing factory. However, Pininfarina was able to rebuild in the years following the war’s end.

The debut of Pininfarina’s latest design work after the war was almost halted after Italian automakers were banned from the 1946 Paris Motor Show. It was a major show that was attended by over 800,000 people, and Battista felt that it was a key opportunity to bring attention to Pininfarina’s newest creations. Battista and his son, Sergio, were able to command the Paris Motor Show crowd’s attention by parking two of their cars — the Lancia Aprilia Cabriolet and Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 S — near the entrance to the exhibition. The exhibition’s organizers weren’t thrilled, but the public and the press were very impressed and looked forward to seeing more of Pininfarina’s work. The positive press from the show bolstered the firm and brought increased interest to Pininfarina’s cars.

Partnering with Ferrari


Many know Pininfarina’s name today because of their famous work for automaker Ferrari. This partnership began in 1951 during a meeting between Battista Pininfarina and Enzo Ferrari, and started the legacy of Pininfarina’s Ferrari design, construction, and engineering. Apart each company has created many noteworthy cars, but combining their talents together has resulted in the development of incredible automaking technology and engineering. Only a handful of Ferrari’s road going models have not been designed by Pininfarina since their partnership began. The Pininfarina and Ferrari families have a close relationship and Sergio Pininfarina, Battista’s son, sat on Ferrari’s board of directors for many years.

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