Pininfarina – An Appreciation

I started this a bit of a joke. Having looked at a very great many of Pininfarina’s cars, I had to work hard to find this selection of duds. 

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Actually, I was reminded of a lot of very good concept cars which look great today and should have been made. Also, while the 1971 Pininfarina Ro80 concept has an odd decorative feature on the side, I am convinced this car served as eventual inspiration for a decade of Cadillacs and other GM cars in the 80s.

Take a look at this fascinating article from Drive, with a lot more insight on the 1969 Pininfarina Mercedes.

Author: richard herriott

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

11 thoughts on “Pininfarina – An Appreciation”

  1. I don’t mind the Nautilus. The Ro80 is inexplicable, particularly as it is based on an actual car that deserves to be on any shortlist of great designs. Oddly, the Dutch Mercedes 6.3 I saw for the first time a few days ago – until then if you’d told me it was a Mercury I’d have believed you. And Spunto does not sound polite to Anglophones. But as you say Richard, Pininfarina got it right a lot more often than they got it wrong.

  2. The Cisitalia 202 was his masterpiece – and the blueprint of so many wonderful Ferraris, Aston Martins and Maseratis. And in the sixties there were a lot of Fiat, Lancias, Alfas and Ferraris that are perfect beauties.
    His last great work was the Peugeot 406 Coupe – an affordable car with the elegance of an unaffordable Ferrari Coupe – ok, before you see the ugly interior.

    But the days for independent design companies seems to be counted.

  3. Yes, their competitive advantage has been reduced to nearly nothing.They can´t make special editions of cars due to the huge costs of this. And they can´t stop the OEMs from simply hiring the staff they need to get the design they want. Should the need arise, contractors (designers and clay modellers) can be brought in at a moment´s notice and let go when the work is done. Pininfarina et al had the edge when large companies like Ford and Peugeot had small teams of job-for-life designers who may not even have been trained for the job. Then it made sense to hire an outside team to find new approaches.

  4. Again, I have to pose one of my “what’s wrong with” questions.
    The Ferrari Pinin is a great car that has aged exceptionally well and still looks modern and even well put together today (we had this perceived quality bit in the other thread – here it is). Clear lines, sleek, nice detailing. What’s not to like?

    And I’ll side with Sean for the Nautilus. The rear is fine, the front not so much, but still overall a fair attempt.

  5. Quite a few people like the Ferrari Pinin so you are in good company. My beef is that the detailing doesn’t gel. Like the Camaaaaargh it lacked maturation time. There’s a whole post devoted to it here under the concept car theme. I explain it there in detail. Like the Ro80, the Ferrari concept was influential.

  6. That photo of the Camargue (in front of Buckingham Palace?) with the textile roof and, apparently, a dignified driver at the helm is strangely endearing.

    A couple of years ago, I caught sight of an obviously British gentleman piloting his Bentley Turbo R through the streets of Hamburg on an irregular basis. The Bentley was right hand drive, and the driver not only bore a faint resemblance to Michael Gambon, but seemed to be always wearing a navy blazer, yellow tie and a somewhat voluminous pochette. It was something to behold and lent the Bentley a stateliness far beyond what its prosaic, Feller-styled lines could every rightfully claim. Much of that impression had to do with the Bentley’s Range Rover-like, upright seating position, which shall forever set even the unimpressive Feller Royces/Bentleys apart from similarly sized, yet more mundane fare like the current crop of luxury saloons. Not even Benz’s mighty W140 comes close.

    1. The Shadow’s successor always looked like a home made Granada to me, hugely disappointing. But the Turbo R was such a unique device that it came together. A few years ago I seriously considered getting a used one. I could have lived with the fuel consumption and even the threat of horrendous bills if anything went wrong (I mean, the pristine cream leather seats themselves looked worth the ridiculously low price of the car). But in the end i realised that I will never possess the authority of Michael Gambon in a blue blazer – some people can carry it off, but I never would.

    2. Isn’t it astonishing how much of a difference a new set of lights, grille and wheels can make, Sean? The Turbo R always made more cohesive an impression than the corresponding Spirit/Spur models.

      And in total agreement with both of you regarding the Feller Royces. They were crude and to this day remain but a faint shadow of J P Bletchley’s designs, but my view on them has nonetheless somewhat mellowed. And with Michael Gambon behind they wheel, they still work, somehow.

      What are your respective takes on the Silver Seraph, by the way? To me, the Arnage is quite the guilty pleasure, but the Royce has never worked to my eyes. I wonder if I’ll ever develop a benign stance towards it.

    3. Kris. From the Silver Shadow onwards, the old school Parthenon grille never looked at home on the front of a modern car in the way the Bentley one did, and the Silver Seraph was no exception. I do agree that the (non BMW engined) Bentley though is oddly attractive, but I fear still too new for me to feel comfortable owning one, since I’m the age of the type of people who own such cars for serious reasons. One of the various clever bits of the 2003 Phantom was curving the grille enough to retain its character, but to make it looked as though it actually belonged.

  7. I’ve always liked the Nautilus (apart from the dreadful feature lines on the side), it reminds me of Le Quement concepts a bit. The Pinin has been one of the few Ferraris I really liked (along with the 400i it inspired), although I do agree that the detailing is a bit crude.
    The Spunto, from its dirty-sounding name to the weird “bathtub toy” look was a real head-scratcher for me, but hey – look at the majority of Sbarro concepts ; )

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