The Fiat - Pininfarina Papers: the history of
of a creative, industrial and human collaboration
- part 3 -
You can also listen to the text of this story with the original
Fiat voice-over. Just click on the ( thin ) outlined photographs.
Sergio Pininfarina has more to say about
the Dino: "The Dino marked an important step in our relationship with Fiat. For us it was a major
project that emerged from the talks then going on between Enzo Ferrari and Fiat which culminated in
the well-known agreement between Ferrari and Fiat.
In addition, my Father had just died and I had to
prove I was up to the job entrusted to Pininfarina. We had agreed to build enough of them for Ferrari
to race in the Formula 2 Championship under the terms of an agreement with Agnelli and we worked on
it night and day, terrified that we might fail".
The 1966 Fiat Dino Spider 2000
Sergio Pininfarina at the 1968 Geneva Show with a prototype built
on Fiat Dino mechanicals
"Before I encountered him, as a captain of industry", continues Sergio Pininfarina. "I knew Agnelli
as a motoring enthusiast. In fact we had built lots of cars for him, mostly Ferraris. But there were
also two special Fiats. In 1956 we built him a fun car with basket weave seats for his beach
holidays: it was on a 600 Multipla frame and we called it Eden Rock.
We exhibited it at the Paris Motor Show where Henry Ford fell in love with it at first sight
and ordered one for himself. The second was the 130 Maremma Break we exhibited at the 1974 Geneva
The Coupé version of the 130, the outcome of Fiat-Pininfarina teamwork, is one of
the most representative of Italian-produced cars. A derivative of the prestigious Fiat 130 with
6-cylinder engine, it won admiring attention at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. It is a refined Coupé
with the sleek, elegantly classic lines of its period and nearly 5,000 units were manufactured
The 1971 Fiat 130 Coupé of which Pininfarina built over 5,000 units
A theory emerged in the Eighties that the only way to be industrially competitive was to manufacture
a limited number of models in huge volumes, in particular on multipurpose saloons for every country.
"At that time", says Pininfarina, "people thought that future would have been in world cars".
Then everything changed in the Nineties, bringing a revived emphasis on niche models. That was when
Fiat decided it would go on co-operating with coachbuilders and designers for the esthetical and
technical development outs new products, even in competition with its own Style Centers. One of
Paolo Cantarella's great merits", underlines Pininfarina, "is his passion for the product at every
level and in all market segments". The partnership developed various designs and that's not all.
More importantly a new and interesting relationship developed between Fiat and Pininfarina, a
relationship represented by the Coupé previewed at the Bologna Motor Show in 1993. "You might say",
continues Sergio Pininfarina: "that this model marks our evolution into being the technological
and industrial partners of Fiat. Besides the design of the interior, we also took charge of the
entire project and mass produced the car in our own factory. For us it was yet another demonstration
of Fiat's confidence".
Sergio Pininfarina and Renzo Carli with the Fiat 130 Coupé
outside the Pininfarina Wind Tunnel in
It has to be said that Fiat's confidence in Pininfarina is a constant in the history of the two
Companies. In Sergio Pininfarina's own words: "We owe our first international success to Fiat and
this gave us a decisive boost.
In the late Forties, George Mason, President of Nash, the future
American Motors, wanted to make a small car for the American market. What we would call a city car
today. So he turned to the firm he rightly considered an expert in this field, namely Fiat. So a
Rambler was produced with a Fiat engine and that was when Vittorio Valletta mentioned my Father to
Mason for future design collaborations. "They are really good at it in Pininfarina", Valletta
That was how we came to design the Nash I Willey Spider and Coupé and the Ambassador
Saloon in the early Fifties, all of which were presented in the States with a great advertising
campaign. And that made Pinin famous to the great American public as well".
Sergio Pininfarina and Gianni Agnelli in the Lancia Museum in 1972
Thinking back to the Fifties, it is worth remembering how the coachbuilding business was shaken when
mass production got under way in Italy with the Fiat 600 in 1955 and by the engineering-manufacturing
revolution that followed the introduction of the stress-bearing body.
That seemed at the time to mark the end of the one-off models that individuals eager to own a
really distinctive car used to commission from the expert coachbuilder. Many coachbuilders suffered
this situation and actually did go out of business, but others were stimulated to move with industrial
production that would have allowed them to successfully go on with their activity.
"Although I was very young
at the time", remembers Sergio Pininfarina. "I was already President of the Gruppo Carrouieri ANFIA
( Coachbuilders Group ). Our French and British colleagues went into decline while we Italians, or
most of us, and in spite of considerable difficulties. managed to survive. That was partly because
we were more innovative, partly because we were livelier. But we couldn't have done it without
the help of Italian manufacturers like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Lancia, who trusted us to build
limited edition models for them".