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90 Years of Elegance: Excellent Cars Designed by Pininfarina

Vukasin HerbezJune 12, 2019

The famous Italian design house Pininfarina began almost 90 years ago in 1930 on the outskirts of Turin, the capital of the Italian car industry. The founder, Batista “Pinin” Farina was a talented bodywork specialist with an eye for the fine art of car design. From the beginning, this small body and coach-built shop managed to gain top recognition among dozens of other similar outfits.

And the reason is for their unique approach to design and attention to detail. Over the years, Pininfarina grew considerably from a small shop to a big facility for developing prototypes and fabricating concepts. And soon, they were even assembling their own designs for various manufacturers.

Historically connected with Ferrari and various other European brands, Pininfarina did several notable cars for American brands, as well. So keep reading to learn about the best-known, most memorable Pininfarina cars that left an everlasting mark on the car industry.

  1. Cadillac Allante

Cadillac envisioned the Allante as a competitor to the Mercedes SL convertible. It was a two-seater luxury convertible with Italian styling by Pininfarina. They gave it a Northstar V8 engine and front-wheel drive. Although quite an unusual combination, the car looked and performed quite well. But even the production process was specific.

First, they did the fabrication in Italy at the Pininfarina factory. And then they shipped the cars to the U.S. by jet, which affected the cost of the final product. The Allante stayed in production until 1993 and Cadillac built just over 21,000 of them. However. the car proved too expensive to produce so the factory allegedly lost money on every example they made.

  1. Ferrari Testarossa

The ultimate ’80s Ferrari is definitely the Testarossa. Ferrari presented it in 1984, basing it on the 512 BB architecture. And then they equipped it with a flat 12 engine and rear engine configuration. But what made it famous was the Pininfarina styling and brutal performance numbers. Both helped it become a legend of the period.

The Testarossa came with interesting engineering with a wide track due to the flat 12 engine. This helped achieve more room in the interior, but it was hard to maneuver the car in tight spaces. It sold well; however, it was only when it was in the popular TV show, Miami Vice, that the Testarossa became a symbol of ’80s car culture.

  1. Lancia Aurelia

When it entered the car market in 1950, the Aurelia was revolutionary. And that was not just for its design and performance, but for its narrow-angle V6 engine. In fact, it was the first mass-produced V6 engine in the world. Produced as a sedan, coupe or convertible, the Aurelia was an exclusive, expensive machine with an engine displacement ranging from 1.8-liters to 2.5-liters.

The compact and light V6 unit was fairly powerful and propelled the Aurelia to respectable top speeds. In fact, the later series were successful racing cars. However, technology was only half of the car’s appeal. The other half was the beautiful Pininfarina-designed body.

  1. Nash Healey

The story of the Nash Healey is an interesting one. Some car historians call the car the original American sports car because it debuted two years before the Corvette in 1951. Their idea was to take a Nash Ambassador platform and a six-cylinder engine and cover them with an elegant roadster or coupe body of aluminum for a lower weight. They revealed the first cars in 1951.

And thanks to the low weight, despite only getting 125 to 140 HP from its 3.2-liter straight-six engines, the Nash Healey offered respectable performance numbers. Italian design house Pininfarina did the redesign. They introduced it in 1952 and in 1953, they presented the closed coupe.

The Nash Healey was quite an accomplished car since it even had several highly publicized racing wins. But sadly, the high price tag and lack of brand recognition killed the project in 1954, so they only made 506 of them.

  1. Chevrolet Corvette Rondine

Back in 1963, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray stunned the global automotive audience with its fantastic design, sharp edges, split window feature, and brutal performance. It was the epitome of an American sports car at its finest. However, in Turin, Italy the talented designers at Pininfarina thought they could do it better.

So, in cooperation with Chevrolet, they got the chance to prove themselves. The result was the Corvette Rondine, a fully operational and usable concept car from 1963 that debuted at the Paris Motor Show. Since Chevrolet commissioned the car, it graced the General Motors stand. And best of all, they equipped it with a 327 or 360 V8 engine, four-speed manual and disc brakes.

  1. Fiat 130 Coupe

Fiat was always known for its small car offerings, but the company offered some interesting luxury coupes during the ’60s and ’70s. And one of those models was the gorgeous 130 Coupe. Fiat introduced it in 1971, building it on a 130 Sedan chassis. The 130 Coupe featured a totally different body, interior and a 2.7 or 3.2-liter V6 engine.

Pininfarina designed the car, winning many prizes for its styling. The interior was roomy and comfortable with a big trunk. However, the 130 Coupe was expensive, so they ceased production in 1977 after building just 4,500 of them.

  1. Ferrari 365 GTB/4

Colloquially called the Daytona, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 was an immensely important model for the factory and one of the most memorable Pininfarina designs from the ’60s. The car featured a race-bred 4.4-liter V12 engine with four camshafts. They installed a multiple carburetor set up delivering 352 HP.

And then they topped all that off with an independent rear suspension and rear-mounted transaxle gearbox. The combination of Ferrari technology and timeless Pininfarina styling resulted in the bestselling Ferrari to date. In fact, they sold more than 1,400 of them in the five-year production run.

  1. Alfa Romeo Spider

When Alfa Romeo introduced the Spider in 1966, it was the Italian answer to the popularity of British roadsters. Eventually, it would become globally popular and an Alfa Romeo model with the longest production run. Initially called the Duetto, the Spider was built on Alfa’s 105 sedan-coupe base with a Pininfarina-designed body.

In addition to that, it had all alloy twin cam engines and rear-wheel drive. During the late ’60s, the Spider became popular after the movie, The Graduate, in which Dustin Hoffman drove a red one. While the rest of the roadsters vanished from the American market, Alfa managed to sell Spiders all the way up to 1994.

That just shows how popular this car was in America. The engine choices ranged from 1.3 to 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 105 to 130 HP. Earlier cars had carburetors, but the later models had fuel injection systems.

  1. Austin A40 Farina

Even though most people connect the Pininfarina name with high-end cars and exotics, the company designed and produced a large number of ordinary cars. They even had a hand in introducing new styles to the industry. And one such example is the Austin A40 Farina.

This British economy car had a three-door layout with two-piece opening tailgate. Despite its diminutive dimensions, the clever engineering and design revealed a big trunk space, making this little car quite practical.

  1. Fiat 124 Spider

Fiat debuted the 124 Spider in 1966, selling it in America until 1985. Pininfarina designed the car and they built it on a 124 Sedan platform. The mechanics were straightforward with a twin-cam engine, four-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. The early models got 90 HP from the 1.6-liter engine. But the later versions received the 2.0-liter engine with fuel injection and 102 HP.

The 124 Spider was one of the more comfortable options. It featured a roomy cabin, big trunk, and good ride quality, so nice examples are highly-sought after. But don’t worry, Fiat built over 200,000 124 Spiders, selling most of them here in America.

  1. Ferrari 250 GTO

Probably the most legendary, sought after and valuable classic Ferrari is the 250 GTO. Ferrari offered the car in 1962 as a high performance/racing version of the 250 series. But in fact, it was a separate model due to numerous changes to the engine and chassis. The 3.0-liter V12 delivered around 300 HP.

And that means the car was a sure winner on race tracks all over the world. This car was one of the first Pininfarina-designed Ferraris. But better yet, it cemented the relationship between these two giants of the Italian car industry right up until today.

  1. Lancia Gamma Coupe

Pininfarina had a long and fruitful relationship with Lancia. And one of the most perfect examples is the Gamma Coupe. They built it on a Gamma four-door platform, while Pininfarina styled the Coupe, selling it in fewer numbers. It featured a spacious interior and lots of equipment, but also a quirky engine.

The Gamma had a 2.0 or 2.5-liter flat-four engine that provided the Coupe with interesting handling and driving dynamics. However, it was also a nightmare to maintain. Lancia made over 6,500 examples during its production run. But today, the Gamma Coupe is a rare sight, even in Italy.

  1. Peugeot 504 Coupe

Designed by Pininfarina and built on a regular Peugeot 504 platform, the 504 Coupe is one of the best examples of an affordable yet classic GT car. It has a perfect design and proportions, as well as unmistakable elegance. Yet it can still carry four people in comfort and style.

Peugeot presented the 504 Coupe in the late ’60s and sold it until 1983. They made over 20,000 of them in various forms and versions. Most of the cars made came with four-cylinder engines, but the more powerful 2.7-liter V8 was also available.

  1. Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

To mark the end of production of the fantastic 250 Series in 1964, Ferrari prepared the Lusso. It was a luxury version with a new body, a few improvements, and a beautiful design. It sold well, providing a positive end of an era for the factory and fans worldwide. The engine was a 3.0-liter V12 that delivered around 250 HP. And better yet, Ferrari installed several luxury features and added more interior space to make a ride more enjoyable in the true GT fashion.

Also, Pininfarina was again responsible for the design of this jewel, giving it an elegant silhouette with swooping lines. But best of all, it came with the minimal chrome trim and more interior space than other 250 GT series cars.

  1. Fiat Coupe

Fiat never imported this interesting car to the U.S., but now is eligible for import since it is older than 25 years. They presented the Fiat Coupe in 1993 and it stayed in production until 2000, selling in Europe and selected markets around the globe. The engine lineup started with rather anemic four-cylinder engines.

But it ended up with the potent 2.0-liter turbocharged five-cylinder unit producing 220 HP. And that was quite the power output for the early ’90s. In turbo guise, the Fiat Coupe was a fast car with unique Pininfarina styling. And it was a real head-turner wherever it appeared. With 0 to 60 mph time of 6.3 seconds, it is still quick by today’s standards.

  1. Alfa Romeo 164

Alfa Romeo left America in 1995 only to return in 2009. However, the last model Alfa sold in the USA was the gorgeous 164 Sedan. It came with the famous Busso 3.0-litre V6 engine with 210 HP. With a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of around 7.5 seconds and the precise manual gearbox, it was a dynamic sedan.

Also, it had a fantastic sound and was cool-looking, too. Best of all, Pininfarina did the styling for this wonderful ’80s wedge four-door. And that is what makes it one of the more recognizable cars from the late ’80s.

  1. Ferrari F40

The Ferrari F40 was and still is a special car in many ways. They built it to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Ferrari. Designed by Sergio Pininfarina, it was a car Enzo Ferrari supervised and envisioned himself. To explain the F40 in a few words, this is a race car with a gorgeous body.

And the performance will terrify you as well as inspire you to drive this car as fast as you can. The F40 was one of the fastest cars of its time. In fact, it accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds in street-legal trim. The exact result is 3.8 seconds according to various magazine tests.

This infamous design house has provided almost 90 years of elegance. These are the most stunning cars designed by Pininfarina. Which one is your favorite? Start saving your money, since none of these cars is a bargain. However, they are all worth the investment if you are a serious Pininfarina fan.

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