Theme: Concepts – 1980 Ferrari Pinin

In some ways, the 1980 Ferrari Pinin is a mess. But some of its details inspired later cars, none of which were Ferraris.

1980 Ferrari Pinin
1980 Ferrari Pinin

The proportions work quite well but one gets the impression Pininfarina had a hard time with the details and with marrying a form language that wanted to be curved with an architecture that seemed rectilinear. Hangovers from the old way are the very flat surface going from the rear wheel arch to the C-pillar.

1988 Opel Senator
1988 Opel Senator

We discussed something along these lines in our series on the Jaguar XJ40’s gestation. The cantilever effect of the glasshouse was an advanced idea and is still in use today on the Suzuki Swift and looked superb on the lovely and lately departed Skoda Fabia.

1989 Citroen XM
1989 Citroen XM

But Buick also used this idea on the 1991 Park Avenue, having only taken 11 years to get the idea from Italy to Detroit. If only they’d had the ‘internet’ then.

1991 Buick Park Avenue
1991 Buick Park Avenue

On the downside, Pininfarina didn’t resolve the way the roof panel over the windscreen is finished. If you look at the front-three quarter and follow the line from the top of the side glass to the top of the windscreen it wobbles or drops at the corner. Citroen managed it better on the 1989 XM which governs the line between the glass and roof using a plane.

1980 Ferrari Pinin
1980 Ferrari Pinin

Citroen (and Buick) used the glass a-pillar to achieve a smooth transition from the windscreen to the side glass. The idea hasn’t been much copied outside of GM in the 90s though.

1980 Ferrari Pinin: Cadillac meets Ferrari? Did this influence the Aston Martin Vantage?
1980 Ferrari Pinin: Cadillac meets Ferrari? Did this influence the Aston Martin Vantage?

Finally, the boot’s slope and relation to the c-pillar seems to have inspired the Maserati Biturbo of 1981 (if there was enough time).

Maserati Biturbo (1985 model, US spec.)
Maserati Biturbo (1985 model, US spec.)

The 1986 Opel Omega makes extensive use of the Pinin’s flush surfacing character but adds relief at important places such as around the side glass. You could view the Omega as a properly realised interpretation of the Pinin’s hyper-flush style.

For the 1987 Senator “B” (a criminally under-rated car) Opel borrowed the Pinin’s grille but made a better job of it. The Pinin’s grille folds under the bumper line and the reflections of the chrome are lost. The way the headlamps and grille are treated is naïve and where the wing line passes under the a-pillar it looks like two shapes are at odds with each other. But this is what happens when a design is hurried and when it is built without the requirements of production in mind.

So, while in parts the Pinin is very interesting and provided ideas which others made better use, the overall car must be ranked as one of Pininfarina’s less seductive efforts, built though it was to celebrate the studio’s 50th birthday.

As a post-script, consider the 1979 Bitter SC, built on the Opel Senator chassis. This is a car inspired by the Ferrari 400i, but perhaps Ferrari repaid the compliment by ripping-off some of Bitter’s adjustments.

1979 Bitter SC
1979 Bitter SC

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

5 thoughts on “Theme: Concepts – 1980 Ferrari Pinin”

  1. At the time, the idea of a four door Ferrari seemed a step too far. Back then brands knew their place. Actually, although Richard’s criticisms are perfectly valid, compared with Ferrari’s production offerings of the early 80s, this seems well enough resolved. I followed a Testarossa a few months ago and had to wind down the window to check from the engine sound that it wasn’t a crude replica. The contours and detailing seemed so kit-car rudimentary.

    Of course Fiat have sidestepped the issue by producing the Maserati Quattroporte, which certainly proved that there was a market for this sort of vehicle 20 plus years later.

  2. Looking at the form, proportions and timeline of this concept anew, I can’t help wondering if it in fact began life as a proposal for Jaguar, given the links Pininfarina had then forged with Browns Lane, in creating the 1978 XJ- Spider concept, and their stellar work on the Series III XJ. The Italians knew Jaguar was working on a new saloon, having previously offered a styling proposal as far back as 1973, which was rejected.

    It seems entirely feasible (to me at least) that Pininfarina had a second bite but in the light of Jaguar’s determination to forge its own stylistic path, this was subsequently re-purposed as a Ferrari. The Italian Carrozzerie did this sort of thing all the time and sometimes it paid dividends. In this case, It’s not difficult to see why Ferrari didn’t bite, if indeed they considered it at all. Grille apart, there’s little here that suggests Marenello. In fact, taken as a whole, it has aged rather badly.

  3. About the Pinin-as-a-Jaguar: it is possible yet I feel the similarities are to do with convergent evolution since there is also a lot of Ferrari 400 in there too. What I agree with is the idea that it could have made the basis of a convincing XJ saloon. And yes, it has aged badly because the details were not deeply integrated. I’d call it a rushed job (further evidence for Eoin?)

    1. Speaking of ageing – I would assert that the Bitter design has aged a good deal better.

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