Sergio Pininfarina, the honorary chairman of Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design house, passed away on 3rd July 2012. He was 85. Petrolheads all around the world mourn the death of this visionary. An extraordinary man who gave us designs that not only stood the test of time over decades but also continue to play icons and inspirations to a lot of modern day designs.

"An exceptional person and an example for Made in Italy all over the world”. These were the words of Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s ex-boss, in praise of Sergio Pininfarina.

He went on to add, “Calling his relation with Ferrari legendary is insufficient. First with Enzo and then with me, he planned some of the most iconic models, such as the Testarossa or the Enzo, just to name two. I wish to remind you of the work we’ve done together for the Maserati Quattroporte, which remains one of the most beautiful cars ever built. He was a great advocate of Italian design, thanks to his sense for elegance. He was part of Ferrari’s board of administration for many years and I will always be profoundly connected to him, so much that I wanted to dedicate a model to him and his son Andrea: the SA Aperta”

Sergio Pininfarina’s work with Ferrari lead to some iconic models from the Prancing Horse, which embellished the history of cars. All GT serial models from Maranello, since the 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Cabriolet, have been designed by Pininfarina in Turin, where Sergio became President in 1966 following his father Battista.

Lets have a look at some of the iconic sports cars that emerged from Pininfarina’s association with Ferrari:

1952 212 Inter Cabriolet:

The first Ferrari designed by Pininfarina was a Cabriolet, based on the 212 chassis and with the Gioachino Colombo V12 bored out to provide a bigger displacement. The chassis was inspired by that of the 166 MM, with modifications aimed at transmitting the higher power output to the road. The later versions saw the introduction of a tubular chassis known as the 'Tuboscocca', which increased structural rigidity.

1954 375MM (Rossellini - Bergman):

Based on the 375MM sport prototype (that was a spin-off of the F1 single seater), this is a one-off version built for the film director Roberto Rossellini who then gave it to Ingrid Bergman as "marriage gift". It is famous for the new body shape and for the new colour, a kind of grey\gold tone now in Ferrari range colours and named "Grigio Ingrid".

1958 250 GT Coupé:

With this model designed by Pininfarina, Ferrari started its series production. It is a "Berlinetta", a type of body that is fundamental in Ferrari history.

1963 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso:

The prototype of the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso was presented at the 1962 Paris Motor Show, and thanks to Pininfarina's timeless styling, was a great success with the public. The Berlinetta Lusso was positioned between Ferrari's more overtly racing models and up-market luxury offerings: essentially sporty in nature and with its V12 fuelled by three Weber carburettors, it still managed a few concessions to driving comfort.

1968 365GTB4 "Daytona":

The evolution of the 275 GTB4 was a milestone in the history of extreme high-performance front-engined sports cars. Sleek and modern Pininfarina lines were matched by a development of the 4.4-litre V12 engine fed by six Weber twin-choke 40 mm carburettors, and the excellent weight distribution provided by the rear gearbox transaxle produced a car of rare balance which guaranteed a unique driving experience. Many fans know it by its unofficial name of "Daytona".

1984 Testarossa:

The Paris Motor Show in October 1984 saw the return of the glorious Testarossa as heir to the 512 BBi. Pininfarina’s design broke somewhat with tradition and was striking and innovative. The side intakes were larger than on the previous model and this constraint saw the introduction of the long side strakes that would become the Testarossa’s most recognisable feature. The evolution of the 12-cylinder boxer engine saw it equipped with four valves per cylinder: the most powerful engine mounted on a production sports car at the time of its launch. The Pininfarina designed replacement for the Boxer series was visually radically different from its predecessor, although it still featured a mid mounted flat twelve engine as its motive power. Gone was the sharp nosed wedge profile, to be replaced by a much softer rounded front end. The front wings flowed into one of the models most distinctive styling features, the deeply straked door panels that grew in width towards their trailing edge, before blending into very wide rear wings. At the rear, the paired circular tail light arrangement that had been a styling feature for over a decade was gone. In their place was a full width horizontally slatted satin black louvre hiding rectangular combination light units. The reason for the great rear girth and the body colour straked door louvres, was the twin side mounted water radiators which received their cooling air via the door intakes. The matt black egg crate "grille" in the nose of the car was a dummy to provide a link with Ferrari tradition, bordered by combination driving, side, turn indicator light assemblies, with paired headlights in retractable pods on the upper face of the nose. The repositioning of the radiators provided the benefit of additional luggage space in the nose, usable luggage space being something that had been a shortcoming of the Boxer series. Although the front track was only 12mm greater than that of the 512 BBi, the rear track increased by a massive 105mm, making the car wedge shape in plan rather than in profile. One of the styling features that drew mixed reactions was the single exterior mirror mounted on the driver's side screen pillar. Some people felt that the long twin aerodynamic support arms gave an unbalanced effect to the car, and a number of owners “corrected” it by adding a matching unit to the passenger side pillar. From the Geneva Salon in 1997, the single pillar mounted mirror was replaced by similarly styled paired units, mounted in the lower front corners of the door glass.

1987 F40:

The F40 was built to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary. A very fast berlinetta designed by Pininfarina, it was built mainly from composites. Its sophisticated high-performance, turbo-charged running gear combined with a first class chassis gave it the kind of great dynamic prowess that was close to that of a racing car. It was greeted with great enthusiasm by enthusiasts and the number of examples eventually built exceeded the company’s wildest dreams. When the F40 was eventually announced in the middle of 1987 its Pininfarina designed body took everybody’s breath away, it was raw and mean, a car that looked like a racing model, but that was totally road legal and could be driven to the shops if desired. The low mean and wide front end flowed via an eclectic array of cooling slots and intake ducts through to the tail, with its panoramic rear screen under which lay the engine, and behind which projected the high mounted integral full width wing, that presented the ultimate eighties power statement. The public loved it, and queues of clients formed cheque book in hand, to join the waiting list, despite Ferrari refusing to say exactly how many would be built and over what period. This was to try and negate a repeat of the extraordinary clamour for the GTO, and thus left production open ended, but it did nothing to calm the storm. It was just so radical, so fast and so covetable, that people wanted it, and they wanted it now! At the height of the supercar boom in 1989 they were changing hands at around a million pounds! Production continued through to 1992, during which time 1311 examples were produced in the chassis number range 76624 to 95317, nearly five times as many as the GTO. Racing versions with the suffixes LM and GT-E were developed by Michelotto of Padova, and enjoyed success over a number of years during the nineties in European GT racing with various private entrants.

1999 360 Modena:

Successor of the F355, this Ferrari was in production from 1999 until the 2005. Sticking to the Ferrari naming convention, it got a part of its name from the 3.6L V8 motor that powered the rear engine rear wheel drive sports car! The name Modena is a tribute to the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. The 360 managed a 0-60 mph in just over 4 seconds and a 0-100 mph in under 10 second. Later Ferrari introduced a cabriolet version of the 360, the 360 Spider. A fact that might instantly make this car familiar to Indians is that this was the Ferrari that Sachin Tendulkar owned for a while and played a central character in the Indian movie, Ferrari ki Sawaari.

2002 Enzo:

This masterpiece was so special that they named it after the founder of the company, Enzo Ferrari. Only 400 units of this V12 masterpiece were made. The Enzo sported very light carbon fibre body, had F1 like semi-automatic gearbox with paddle shifts, to name a few specialities. The car was built with performance as the sole objective. They say that the paint was so thin that sometimes you could see the carbon fibre weave through it. The car sported staggering 0-60 mph in just over 3 seconds! What made the car more exciting was that compared to super cars of today, it didn’t sport of too much computer intervention and correction. It was one of the last supercars, if I may say, that thrilled with pure man machine experience! Petrolheads all over the world go numb even today on hearing the car’s engine noise

2006 599 GTB Fiorano:

With the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, Pininfarina designers wanted to explore wholly innovative lines. As ever, this was not an isolated process, but took place alongside optimisation of the car's exterior aerodynamics, which were designed to deliver cutting-edge down-force figures. The cabin too was given an original aerodynamic design. The wraparound rear window is hugged by two flying buttresses, which channel air towards the nolder, adding a highly original (yet functional) twist. When it came to the rear of the car, it seemed time to depart from the now signature circular quad rear lights and low-fixed licence plate.

As we all know, Sergio was also responsible for creating some masterpieces for other automobile manufacturers viz: Maserati which of course belong to the same group. The Maserati Quattroporte is one such design which, even today, continues to floor car enthusiasts! The first generation of the car that is currently sold worldwide was designed by Sergio.

2004 Fifth Generation Maserati Quattroporte:

Great Italian designs have traditionally been reserved for thoroughbred Italian sports cars. Thinking hard, one can hardly come up with a few legendary Italian designs that gets you going, “whoa!” and is not a sports car! The current Maserati Quattroporte which has been on sale since 2004 is one such design by this genius! The car not only sports the typical low nose Italian styling but also thanks to its phenomenal proportions looks downright gorgeous! Powered by a 4.2L V8 engine which generated 400 PS which helped the car rae from 0-60mph in less than 6 seconds and a top speed of over 160 mph! Later Maserati also launched the GT and the Executive GT versions of the car with more powerful 4.7L V8 generating close 440 PS! All these performance apart, it will always be remembered as one of the most beautiful Italian saloons!

Today, Sergio Pininfarina has left us for a better world but has certainly set the tone for Italian car designs for generations to come!

R. I. P. Sergio Pininfarina


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