Over 60 years of a career devoted to bringing together beauty and functionality in superbly designed cars
Pininfarina is a name associated with many of the best-known postwar sports cars, almost a synonym of incredible design. But who was the founder of Carrozzeria Pininfarina, one of the greatest Italian car designers?
Battista Farina was born in Cortanze (Turin), in 1893. He was one of the youngest of eleven brothers and also for his short stature, his nickname, ‘Pinin‘ (the youngest/smallest, in Piedmontese). At age 11, he began working in his brother Giovanni’s body shop, and it was there that his interest in cars was born. There he also learned bodywork and began to design his own cars.
During WWI, he personally supervised the construction of the “Aviatic” trainer planes, for which he received a commendation from the Office of Military Aviation. In 1920, he went to the United States and met Henry Ford, who asked him to stay in America and work for Ford Motor Company, but Pininfarina preferred to return to Italy.
In 1930, he founded ”Carrozzeria Pinin Farina” to focus on the design and construction of new car bodies, and quickly gained prominence.
He wanted to transform car body manufacturing into an independent industry. In brief time he had assembled a production line able to produce small series of 7/8 vehicles per day. After WWII, in 1946, Pininfarina designed and produced Cisitalia shown in the MoMA in New York as “one of the eight outstanding cars of our time”. With his work for Ferrari, starting in 1952, he produced some of his most famous cars. In 1961, after 60 years of activity, Pininfarina turned over the direction of the firm to his son, Sergio, and his son-in-law, Renzo Carli.
And in the same year, the President of the Italian Republic, in consideration of his achievements in social and industrial activities, authorized the change of his last name to Pininfarina. In 1964, he opened the Professional and Recreational Complex in Grugliasco. This is a perfect example of his willingness to contribute to the cultural and professional development of young workers. The last design personally attributed to him was the 1600 Duetto for Alfa Romeo. Only a month before Pininfarina’s death, in April 1966, the car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.
Over his long professional career, Pininfarina received numerous recognitions. He was named “Cavaliere del Lavoro” and “Honorary Royal Designer for Industry”. He also received the “Légion d’Honneur” and the “Compasso d’Oro”. Moreover, the President of the Italian Republic conferred upon him the gold medal for education, culture, and art. Also, Pininfarina received a golden key to the city of Detroit with honorary citizenship by its major.