The ultimate italian coachbuilder site

The Partnership between Fiat & Pininfarina

The 1999 marked a significant anniversary: Fiat's Centenary.

To celebrate the anniversary Pininfarina played an active part in the project organized by Italian Coachbuilders, displaying 70 of the cars that best represent the historic relationship with the Fiat Company on two of Turin’s most beautiful squares, in July 1999. Pininfarina also intended to pay homage to Fiat realizing Wish a research prototype built on the mechanical of the 2nd generation of the Fiat Punto.

1999 Fiat Wish

In the life of people and companies stories often intertwine to form a tightly woven fabric that is only strengthened by the passage of time and that shared work and mutual respect help to keep unaltered from generation to generation. That is the case of Fiat and Pininfarina, that have been travelling companions in realizing cars thought as aesthetic and industrial objects result of creativity and technology.

The little company FIAT, set up in 1899 thanks to an act of faith towards the future by Giovanni Agnelli and a small group of pioneers, has developed into a significant international presence. For its part Pininfarina, which was established by Battista Farina, known as Pinin, in 1930 as a craftsman coachbuilder, has been transformed over the years into a diversified complex which stands at the cutting edge of design, technology, and engineering.

The relationship between Pininfarina and Fiat actually started long before the foundation in 1930 of Carrozzeria Anonima Pinin Farina. Born in 1893, Pinin started working as a boy in the Stabilimenti Farina owned by his brother Giovanni, who was called in to co-operate with the Fiat, managed by Senator Giovanni Agnelli, when the was working on a new car, the Zero, the progenitor of all the utility cars.

The young Pinin was asked to design one part of the Zero, a component both technical and ornamental which was of enormous importance at the time: the radiator. That was his first success also because the Zero radiator was followed by the Zero body and then by other commissions: he became head of the design and engineering team in the Stabilimenti Farina until he set up his own Company in 1930.

Fiat Zero by Stabilimenti Farina

More than 140 saloons, coupés, spiders, cabriolets and research prototypes have come out of the Fiat-Pininfarina co-operation that was born in the Thirties when Pininfarina began building one-off models or mini-series deriving from Fiat models for clients who wanted to stand out from the crowd. That was the case of the Fiat 525 SS, a lively two-colour sports coupé dating from 1931 that marks the start of the relationship between Pinin’s new Company and a Fiat model.

The examples of this happy marriage between the innovative creativity of Pininfarina and sturdy Fiat chassis have become part of Italy’s automotive history. The numerous, innovatively elegant “greyhounds” built in the Thirties were followed in the late Forties by models like the Fiat 6C 1500 Cabriolet of 1947 and the 1949 Fiat 1100 S Berlinetta Sport, Pininfarina’s very first example of small production runs for Fiat.

Fiat 1100 Berlinetta - Photo courtesy of Christoph Grohe

In 1953 the 1100 TV Coupé, an elegant, perfectly balanced sports car, was displayed as a prototype at the Paris Motor Show. Later mass produced by Pinin Farina, the car was marketed in 1954-57 by a network of Fiat-approved independent dealers.

Also from the Fifties were the 1100/103 TV Break, the first modern example of the GT “Giardinettas Granturismo” which came out in 1955, and the 1200 Coupé and Sport Wagon of 1957.

1960 saw the relationship become even stronger and marked the start of a particularly fecund period of work together. In that period the 1200, 1500 and 1600 Cabriolet and Coupé made their debut: Pininfarina manufactured over 20,000 units of these models up to 1966.

1955 Fiat 1100 TV Break

In 1963 at the Turin Motor Show a Coupé appeared the 2300 Lausanne, three years later, always at the same motor show two cars, destined to have a particular success, made their debut: the Fiat Dino Spider and the Fiat 124 Sport Spider. The first, built on a Fiat floorpan with a modified Ferrari 6- cylinder engine, previewed in the stubby tail these circular lights that were to typify the Ferrari cars of the Eighties. In its various evolutions, including the 1982 Spider Europa, the 124 was for Pininfarina a “big issue” model with over 200,000 units produced, of which 180,000 were sold in the USA. The Dino and the 124 were both mass produced in the Pininfarina factories. The Spider Europa was the first model to be manufactured and distributed, above all in the USA, with the Pininfarina badge on the bonnet.

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 is a refined Coupé with the sleek, elegantly classic lines of its period.

Fiat 130 Coupé

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. Then everything changed in the Nineties, bringing a revived emphasis on niche models and the parallel decision to continue co-operating with coachbuilders and designers for the esthetical and technical development of its new products.

The partnership produced 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. It has to be said that Fiat’s confidence in Pininfarina is a constant in the history of the two Companies.

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.

FIAT offered a kind of ‘sponsorship’ allowing coachbuilders to make a major technical leap forward. Those who exploited that opportunity correctly were able to combine pure design work with industrial activity, setting up, like us, engineering and research centres. Another major event occurred during Pininfarina’s period of industrial development. That was Fiat’s decision to entrust Pininfarina with the production of its Campagnola, an off-road vehicle for civilian and military use that was manufactured between 1974 and 1979.

2018 Fiat Spiaggina - Pininfarina's last Fiat creation till now

For the first time Fiat assigned us such a task and it was tremendously important to us as a stimulus to further expansion on the manufacturing side” comments Sergio Pininfarina.

One of the fundamental aspects in the relationship between FIAT and the Italian coachbuilders is the support that, over the years has always accompanied the evolution of the sector and, therefore, of Italian style in general.

So Fiat, as a reference point and also as a winning image of Italy. The future seems to be challenging as never before for the car. But the collaboration with Fiat represents for Pininfarina a mutual stimulation, an opportunity to conduct design and engineering researches in a partnership that is bound to make the whole industry more competitive.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

At the prestigious Auto China 2024 event in Beijing, car enthusiasts and industry insiders alike were treated to a groundbreaking revelation: the world premiere of Italdesign’s Quintessenza. Representing a fusion of human ingenuity and natural inspiration, the Quintessenza embodies a harmonious relationship between humans and the elements, offering a fresh perspective on automotive design and functionality.

Rooted in a human-centric approach, the Quintessenza project places individuals at the forefront, both as creators and users. From design conception to construction, humans drive every aspect of the Quintessenza’s development. As users, they engage with the vehicle to connect with nature’s diverse elements, fostering a profound sense of connection and agency.

Drawing on over five decades of Italdesign’s heritage, the Quintessenza’s design philosophy integrates flexibility, freedom, sportiness, and duality. It encapsulates the Italian essence of design as a universal expression, seamlessly merging technology with human-machine interaction while incorporating natural elements to bridge the gap between occupants and the outside world.

Positioned to cater to adventurous individuals seeking urban functionality and a deeper connection with nature, the Quintessenza falls within the performance pick-up and sport activity vehicle category, offering versatility and excitement on and off the road.

Exterior-wise, the Quintessenza boasts a dual nature, blending the dynamic prowess of a GT with the versatile adaptability of a pick-up truck. Its design intricately balances sporty aesthetics with practical functionality, featuring muscular yet fluid lines that emphasize its dual-purpose capabilities. The vehicle’s front exudes a sporty GT vibe, while the rear emphasizes usability akin to pick-up trucks and off-road vehicles.

The exterior design showcases innovative aerodynamic features, including an active splitter system that adjusts based on driving conditions to optimize downforce and cooling. Moreover, the incorporation of natural fiber composite elements enhances both strength and aesthetics, underscoring Italdesign’s commitment to marrying form with function.

Internally, the Quintessenza continues its human-centric approach, boasting a minimalist yet functional interior design. A floating central dashboard, adorned with marble-based fabric, seamlessly integrates air conditioning and human-machine interface controls, offering a futuristic yet intuitive user experience. Advanced haptic technology embedded in upholstery further enhances usability, integrating vehicle controls into the console for effortless access.

The Quintessenza’s user experience extends beyond conventional boundaries, with nearly all onboard features customizable via smartphones. Through a dedicated app, drivers can personalize their driving experience, from interior lighting to audio preferences, further enhancing the vehicle’s allure as a personalized extension of the individual.

In line with the “never lost” concept, the Quintessenza’s UX-UI interface ensures occupants remain seamlessly connected with their surroundings. Through dynamic projections, passengers are continuously informed about the vehicle’s location and destination, fostering a sense of security and adventure.

The Quintessenza’s debut at Auto China 2024 heralds a new era of automotive innovation, where human creativity converges with natural inspiration to redefine the driving experience. As Italdesign continues to push the boundaries of design and functionality, the Quintessenza stands as a testament to the enduring bond between humans, nature, and automotive excellence.