Entries in Pininfarina (7)


Friday Moment of Zen

The carrozzerie of the 60s and 70s had a certain formula for publicity photos.  Usually the car was parked in a gravel quarry or in front of a modernist building and a chick in an outlandish outfit is draped over the car. Here is an example par excellence submitted by our friend Off Camber.

The car is the 1969 Ferrari 512S Berlinetta Speciale by Pininfarina.


The Black Moon can be yours!

Over the summer, I shared a video featuring Linda Hamilton piloting the "Black Moon" sports car in the forgotten film "Black Moon Rising".  This fictitious vehicle was actually a real car known as the Wingho Concordia II.  The car has surfaced on ebay, where it is available in very complete looking condition for a BIN of only $15,000 USD.

As a movie car, it isn't very famous, but I love the fact that it is essentially a drivable "copy" of the Ferrari 512 Modulo by Pininfarina.  For a one of a kind, hand-built dream car with Hollywood provenance, I would say $15,000 represents a fair price, or even a bargain.  It appears the car is based on a VW platform.  If you buy this car, expect a visit from me for a ride in it.

Check out the auction HERE

hat tip to David for letting us know!


Addio Sergio

As you may have read, Tuesday marked the passing of a giant in the field of automotive design, Sergio Pininfarina, who was 85 years old. While Sergio was not personally responsible for many of the designs that bore his family's now legendary name, it was his tremendous business acumen as much as his artistic sensibilities that saw him not only keep his father's venerable carrozzeria alive after taking its helm in the mid 1960s, but expand it, build upon it, and cement his father's legacy for all time.  In the process, he created Pininfarina's R&D center, built a wind tunnel, and using early digital technology brought his company strongly into the computer age while many of his competitors faded into second tier status or disappeared completely.  I recently took some photos of a 246 Dino, which was one of the first production cars created under Sergio's directon. I thought this a fitting time to share them with you. Click for high resolution.


The Ferrari 512 BB: A Forgotten Manifesto

To say that the 512 BB was a seminal design for Ferrari might meet with raised eyebrows from many people.  After all, it's rather an unsung car compared to its more plentiful V8 siblings and its more flamboyant red-headed Flat-12 progeny of the 80s. Because it replaced the Daytona, and thus closed the era of great front-engined V-12 sports cars for Ferrari (until the 550 Maranello came out in 1996) one might say that certain Ferrari purists look at the 512BB as the regrettable end of an era rather than the start of a new 25 year epoch. Though the 512BB has certainly become a collectible car in its own right, it's still far less sought after than the Daytona.  And yet it broke far more boundaries than that car, and had long-lasting impact on the entire design direction of Ferraris for the next two decades. First of all, the 512 was Ferrari's first flat 12 production car, as well as Ferrari's first mid-engined flagship supercar (unlike the mid-engined 246 Dino, which had a much smaller V6 and never wore the prancing horse.) Aside from these mechanical aspects, the 512's design cues constituted an often-ignored manifesto work that set the tone for all subsequent Ferrari sports cars of the 70s and 80s.

Like many classic designs that today are perceived by the general public as "very 80's looking" the 512 was actually released as far back as 1972, and its design roots go back to the late 1960s.  The thematic elements of the 512 BB can be directly traced to two show cars by Pininfarina: The P6 Berlinetta of 1968, and the 512 Modulo of 1970.

A close look at the P6 shows proportion and massing that is very close to the eventual silhouette of the 512BB. However, the details, such as the creased body side and the flying buttress rear window treatment were already well established Pininfarina styling elements that were seen on many cars such as the 246 Dino. The same is true of the air intake carved out of the door panel, which was on the Dino and several other Ferraris. Yet this particular execution of the scooped out intake would find its way into the later 308 GTB. Other details such as the "venetian blind" detailing were thankfully not found on later production Ferraris (Bertone more successfully executed a similar detail two years later, on the Urraco).

The staggeringly beautiful and utterly unique 512 Modulo concept (above) of 1970 was the other source of inspiration for the 512BB. Although the Modulo is much lower and differently proportioned from the production car, there are many styling elements which saw their way to production. Most notable is the horizontal "reflection line" separating the upper and lower portions of the bodywork with a band of contrasting color (usually black on production Ferraris). The "reflection line" is a central thematic element of the Modulo that makes its first appearance in the 512, and carries through every subsequent Ferrari Berlinetta until the F360 Modena eliminated it entirely.  The other most obvious cues carried over from the Modulo to the 512BB are the artfully flared rear fender bulges.   Looking at these cars next to each other (below) one may say, ok that is where the similarities end. And they might be right...

I personally never associated either of these show cars directly with the 512BB, but I recently came across some fascinating sketches from the Pininfarina archives (in the book Pininfarina:Prestige and Tradition, Edita, 1980) which clearly show the designers grappling with how to translate the themes of the Modulo to a production-based reality. These sketches clearly bear witness to a morphing process in which the Modulo's space age lines gradually were refined and softened into what would become the 512BB. In particular, note how the Modulo's unique window treatment is explored and gradually changes shape through the iterations.

In the end, the 512 comes out looking quite different from the Modulo, but it nontheless set the tone for all mid-engined Ferraris to come for the next 20-plus years.

The aforemorentioned "reflection line" becomes a standard thematic element, as does the 512BB's modernistic execution of the egg crate grille. This grille treatment was recycled and revisited continuously on the 308, the 328, the Mondial, the 288 GTO, and other models throughout the 80s and 90s. The tail light cluster treatment on the 512BB, while hardly the first round tail lights on a Ferrari, are nonetheless archetypal for the designs that followed, and the horizontal grille between them even presages the eventual tail treatment of the Testarossa. When seen from a side view, it's clear that the nose treatment and raked A pillar formed the basis for the 308 GTB, the 328, and the 288 GTO.

Now that we have established both the design foundations of the 512BB as well as its importance in setting the tone for following models, one might ask why the car never achieved cult status, and also one might rightfully question whether Enzo himself even liked it. After all, when it came time for the Dino 308 GT4, which was to be Ferrari's higher volume bread and butter, he gave the job to Bertone (who did a fantastic job, i might add).  And yet by the time the 308 GTB came around a few years after, one must assume Enzo had warmed, to the styling themes first seen on the 512BB. And if sales of the 308 and 328GTB and GTS series were any indication, so had the buying public. I can't guess as to why the car never attained cult status, but to my eye it's a true classic that has been overlooked due to the mythical status attained by its immediate forebears and the over-representation of the cars it spawned.


Ferrari 456 - Il Cavallino's last great Gran Turismo

Every time I look at the new FF, I think how Ferrari's design standards have fallen from the peak of taste and restraint they reached in the mid 1990s.  After the excesses of the 308/328 and Testarossa era (aka the 1980s), Ferrari offered the more refined, if less exciting 348, and finally some superb designs like the 456 and the F355.  The 456 in particular oozed desirability and exclusivity, but had a particularly Italian sense of purity and restraint that enhanced its exoticism rather than detracted from it. 

You look at a 456 and can't help but picture a wealthy Milanese gentleman clad in cashmere sweater and his elegant wife stepping out of it at their Lake Garda weekend home.  Today's Ferraris...well, can you picture anyone other than a douchebag getting out of one? The interior of a 1990s Ferrari is also far more sober and clean-lined than the more elaborate confections being dreamed up today--it emphasizes the luxury of the materials used, rather than the styling.  But that brings me to my real questions here: Has Ferrari's taste atrophied? Or is their current design direction just a response to a shifting customer base in new markets? Were the 456 and F355 anomalies, or do they represent the last vestiges of the true spirit of the marque?