Sergio Pininfarina, president of Pininfarina from 1966 has died at his home in Turin. He was the son of Pininfarina company founder Battista Farina, he was serving as honorary chairman of the the company at the time of his death. Although much of the design company’s greatest work with BMC was with his father, Battista Farina, Sergio’s era in charge of the company bore significant Anglo-Italian fruit.
Born in Turin in 1926, he studied mechanical engineering at university and rose to become General Manager of Pininfarina in 1960. In 1966, he became President on the death of his father and had been honorary chairman since 2006. He oversaw key developments at Pininfarina, such as the building of a new factory at Grugliasco, the opening of a computer design centre and a wind tunnel – and another new plant at San Giorgio Canavese.
Under his leadership, Pininfarina created some of the world’s most beatiful cars, most memorably launching the Fioravanti-styled Ferrari 288GTO and F40, as well as the Enzo. Pininfarina became Ferrari’s definitive design partner.
But Pininfarina also also worked with Jaguar during the development of the XJ40 throughout the 1970s, formulating a number of design concepts – but it was the company’s creation of the XJ-Spider concept in 1978 and its work on the masterful XJ Series III facelift, which clearly showed that the Italians understood what constituted fine British design. Also, the company specialised in a number of open-top conversions, most notably in designing the MGF‘s roof mechanism.
The Pininfarina-BMC alliance also delivered us the most promising 1100-based Aerodynamica, which was unveiled in 1967, just one year after Sergio became president. It was a downscaling of the famous 1800 concept of the previous year – and the company hoped it would be an alternative to what would go on to become the Allegro. It was never treated seriously by BMC, which was preoccupied by its upcoming takeover by Leyland Motors, and to this day, remains one of the industry’s most frustrating might-have-beens.