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04 July 2012

The Passing of a Legend: Sergio Pininfarina 1926 - 2012

Words by Niky Tamayo
 
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Perhaps no design house is more storied or better known than the House of Pininfarina (Pinin SpA). This Carrozeria has been responsible for some of the most iconic automobile designs of all time, including the Ferrari Testarossa, the Maserati Quattroporte, and the Ferrari Dino
 
But Pinin has not always been about supercars. The houses credits include such notable cars as the MGB GT and the achingly beautiful Peugeot 406 Coupé. Even the lowly Hyundai Matrix wears the coveted Pininfarina badge. Be sure to take a look next time you see one. This flexibility has helped ensure the success and longevity of the design firm, and is testament to the quality of leadership Sergio lent to the house that bears his name.
 
Born on September 8, 1926, Sergio Farina, from an early age, took interest in his father's work. After earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1950, he joined the family firm and quickly became an integral part of the organization, taking over from his father, famed designer Battista "Pinin" (Little) Farina, as general manager in 1960. Such was the prestige and honor of the Pininfarina Carrozeria at this point that the Farinas were granted leave to change their family name to Pininfarina by no less than the President of Italy. 
 
In the years after his father's death, Sergio was instrumental in establishing Pininfarina as not only a coach-building concern, but a research and design enterprise whose services were sought after by many customers, including Ferrari, Lancia, Fiat, Peugeot, Cadillac, Bentley, Rolls Royce and many others. Pininfarina has even worked on buses and trains. It is perhaps the engineering mindset, rather than simply artistic vision that set Pininfarina apart from the rest. 
 
It is this mindset that gave rise to the modern Ferrari, as the very first mid-engined Ferrari, the Dino, was borne of Sergio's prodding. He would later be project manager for what is perhaps still the most hardcore Ferrari ever, the F40, in which the company showcased its expertise in exotic materials and aerodynamic development.
 
The great man passed away quietly last July 3, 2012, with his family at his bedside. He leaves behind him a legacy that his own father would have been proud of. Rest in Peace, Sergio.