A new Ferrari exhibition pays tribute to a master of Italian automotive styling. The late Sergio Pininfarina was never afraid to experiment with both function and unforgettable form
By Damien Smith
The night before the opening of ‘The great Ferraris of Sergio Pininfarina’ exhibition in Maranello, Luca di Montezemolo launched his political manifesto for social change in Italy. The Ferrari president plays down his aspirations to become a leader of greater significance beyond the running of a humble car company, but since he is a high-profile and popular national figure, such declarations from his Italia Futura ‘think tank’ are taken seriously in a country still in recovery from the last days of Prime Minister Berlusconi.
But at the Museo Ferrari, di Montezemolo batted away journalists’ questions on politics. He claimed he was here to talk only about cars, and pay tribute to one of the great figures of automotive design.
Still, it is true that Sergio Pininfarina, who died earlier this year aged 85, fitted the template of what di Montezemolo’s ‘think tank’ believes Italy needs right now: that is, entrepreneurs who make a greater contribution to their country beyond their own interests. As his company produced some of the most beautiful cars ever seen, Pininfarina also took his place in public life as an active politician. That fact surely won’t have been lost on Ferrari’s self-aware, modern-day president.
Sergio’s son, Paolo, joined di Montezemolo and Piero Ferrari at the launch of the new exhibition. “It describes my father as a designer, as an engineer, as an entrepreneur and more than all, as a man,” he said. “This exhibition is the life of my father.” The design house was founded in 1930 by Paolo’s grandfather, Battista Tinin’ Farina, and the company’s defining relationship with Ferrari was forged in ’52. The collaboration has resulted in more than 100 of the most beloved models in the world of motoring, and 22 of them are on show in this collection at Ferrari’s official museum in Maranello. They include wonderful experimental designs that sit among the classic road and race selection, and we present the most eye-catching here.
Di Montezemolo paid tribute to the “team effort” that existed between the Turin coachbuilder and the Modena powerhouse, describing each model as “pieces of art”. The president has a point: these automotive sculptures, created to inspire innovation and of course to be driven hard, transcended their original intentions long ago.
The exhibition runs until January 7, 2013. The Museo Ferrari is open seven days a week from 9.30am to 6pm, except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Go to www.museoferrari.com for more information.
P for ‘prototype’ and spawned from the legendary P3 and P4 sports-racing cars. One of two concepts (P5 now resides in Japan), its influence on 1970s production jewels the BB and 308 GTB can be seen in that wedge nose and those fighter-plane air scoops.
Inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, this mid-engined craft cocks a snook at all convention. As for functionality, what place does that have in an obsession to uncover the automobile’s ‘ideal form’? Wall-mounted wooden buck shows pride in traditional craftsmanship.
Safety was still a dirty word for some in Formula 1, but not for Sergio Pininfarina. This futuristic Grand Prix `monoposto’ was a collaborative result with Revue Automobile and carries features that are standard today, but were groundbreaking at the time, including multi-layer fuel tanks, a multi-point safety harness, wrap-around bodywork for extra protection and to stop wheels interlocking, and onboard fire extinguishers. It even features a moveable mid-wing. Just imagine how striking it would have looked in Ferrari red.
What should Pininfarina do to celebrate Ferrari’s 50th anniversary? Build a `quattro porte’ saloon powered by a V12, of course! A four-door first for the Prancing Horse, it didn’t catch on. But the single-frame front grill, flush glass windows and sleek tapered tail would be seen again. It could have seen the light of day beyond this prototype, had Enzo Ferrari himself not put a halt to the madness.
This one has dated. It’s post-Enzo late 1980s excess at its best — or worst depending on your point of view. The Testa Rossa, immortalised in white by TV cop show Miami Vice, provided the platform, and you can tell. Although its imposing rear is more bullish Lamborghini than equine Ferrari.
Ferrari red has turned to an odd orange, but the significance of this particular example of a classic design will never fade. This was Gilles Villeneuve’s car, in which he set a record that is unlikely ever to be broken. It was in this 308 that he made the fabled run from Monte Carlo to Maranello — that’s 432km (268 miles) — in an astounding 2hr 25mins.
Enzo in his office
A startling recreation, especially when you’re not expecting it (the first glimpse of the waxwork made us jump on our visit). It’s based on the Old Man’s famous office in the house at Fiorano.
1967 330 GTC Coupé Speciale
A favourite of Sergio Pininfarina, this unique version is claimed to have once been the property of Lilian, Princess de Rethy of Belgium. Its Dino parentage is obvious.