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The Alpine OSI CRV

During the 1950s, Marbon-Chemical in the United States pioneered the development of ABS plastic (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene). This particular plastic, known by the trade name Cycolac, found its primary applications in housing parts and boat building. Seeking to expand its market reach and boost sales in the early 1960s, Marbon-Chemical took a strategic step by venturing into the automotive industry. The decision was made to create prototype automobiles, aiming to attract customers within the automotive sector.

To realize this ambitious plan, Marbon-Chemical initiated a collaboration with Centaur Engineering, a company renowned for its expertise in racing car construction during that era. Under the guidance of their skilled designer, Dann Deaver, a series of five prototypes were developed. These prototypes were given the designation CRV-I to CRV-V, with CRV standing for Cycolac Research Vehicle. This innovative approach not only showcased the versatility of ABS plastic but also positioned Marbon-Chemical as a player in the automotive industry.

The successful partnership with Centaur Engineering not only resulted in the development of these prototypes but also laid the groundwork for Cycolac’s integration into the automotive realm. This venture marked a pivotal moment in the plastics industry, demonstrating the adaptability of ABS plastic beyond traditional applications and opening new possibilities in the dynamic world of automobile manufacturing.

In 1966, Marbon-Chemical dispatched the freshly completed CRV-V prototype to Europe. Tasked with the responsibility, Guus Biermann, an employee of the Dutch branch of Marbon-Chemical, embarked on a journey across the continent. His mission was to introduce the car to major car manufacturers and Italian carrozzieri. The initial connection occurred during the fall of 1966 when Biermann, then residing in Switzerland, entrusted the CRV-V to the “Centro Stile” of OSI in Borgaro, a suburb of Turin, for the weekend. This marked the beginning of the car’s European tour and its introduction to the automotive landscape.

A chance encounter led to an unauthorized joyride of the CRV by an OSI employee, resulting in a near-complete destruction of the car in a rollover accident. Despite the unfortunate incident, the driver survived with injuries. The damaged remnants of the CRV were subsequently shipped back to the USA.

The damaged remains of the CRV were subsequently shipped back to the USA. To address the aftermath, Marbon-Chemical and OSI collaborated to construct a new CRV. Marbon-Chemical produced the body shells, delivering them directly to Alpine in France, with whom OSI had a cooperation agreement since 1965. Alpine incorporated Renault Gordini technology into the vehicle, passing it on to OSI for the final assembly of the CRV.

The newly minted CRV made appearances at fairs in London and Paris, as well as the IAA in Frankfurt. Guus Biermann, who had initially commenced the tour with the CRV-V, continued the journey with the OSI CRV. However, after a few months, as the car lost its novelty, Biermann concluded the tour. The OSI CRV found its temporary home in a warehouse at the Dutch Marbon-Chemical branch north of Amsterdam. Despite the setback, the collaborative efforts of Marbon-Chemical and OSI brought about a resilient and refined version of the CRV, showcasing the resilience and adaptability of both companies in the face of challenges.

The promotional tour’s most significant achievement possibly occurred with the sale of the manufacturing process to Citroen, culminating in the production of a vehicle on a larger scale – the Citroen Mehari, featuring an ABS body. The production method facilitated the creation of large half-shells, resembling a process more akin to boatbuilding. In the automotive sector, ABS plastic finds extensive application in crafting trim parts like lamp rings or radiator grilles. Notably, Cycolac, a type of plastic, exhibits excellent chrome plating capabilities in the automotive industry.


01. “Alpine” by Dominique Pascal

02. “Quattroruote” 1966

03. http://osicar.de

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Paolo Pininfarina

On April 9, 2024, the automotive world lost one of its iconic figures as Paolo Pininfarina, President of the Pininfarina Group, passed away in Turin at the age of 65. His passing leaves behind a legacy of innovation, dedication, and excellence that has deeply impacted both the automotive industry and the wider design world.

Paolo Pininfarina’s journey with the Pininfarina Group was one of unwavering commitment and passion. Born in Turin on August 28, 1958, he graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Politecnico di Torino. His professional career began in 1982 when he joined Pininfarina, following stints at renowned companies such as Cadillac, Honda, and General Motors.

Throughout his tenure, Paolo played a pivotal role in steering the Pininfarina Group towards new horizons. Under his leadership, the company embarked on a diversification journey in the 1980s, expanding its scope beyond automotive design to become a benchmark in various design fields, from industrial design to architecture, nautical, and aeronautical design.

In 1987, Paolo assumed the role of President and CEO of Pininfarina Extra S.r.l., a subsidiary specializing in industrial design, furniture, architecture, yachting, and aviation. His visionary approach and innovative mindset propelled Pininfarina Extra to new heights, solidifying its reputation as a leader in design innovation.

His contributions to the automotive world are equally remarkable. Paolo Pininfarina oversaw the creation of several iconic vehicles, including the concept car Sergio, a tribute to his late father, Senator for life Sergio Pininfarina, and the Automobili Pininfarina Battista, an electric hypercar unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

Beyond his professional achievements, Paolo Pininfarina will be remembered for his humility, kindness, and accessibility. Those who had the privilege of meeting him attest to his genuine warmth and willingness to engage with others, traits that endeared him to colleagues and industry peers alike.

“Paolo Pininfarina was an immensely significant figure, not only in his professional capacity but also on a personal level. Having had the honor of knowing him personally, I cherish memories of his kindness and approachability. I deeply appreciate his willingness to engage and his valuable contributions to our projects, notably the video endeavor showcasing the Ferrari Sergio.”
Andreas Scheidl, Founder of carrozzieri-italiani.com.

As we mourn the loss of Paolo Pininfarina, we also celebrate his enduring legacy. His indelible mark on the world of design and automotive innovation will continue to inspire future generations. Let us honor his memory by embracing his spirit of creativity, passion, and excellence in all our endeavors.

In remembrance of Paolo Pininfarina, a visionary leader and a true gentleman.