While the wildest Pininfarina design at Pebble Beach this year will likely be Jim Glickenhaus' Ferrari 512S-based Modulo concept car from 1970, the fastest should be the all-electric Pininfarina PF0, ready for its 2020 debut.
Pininfarina Automobili's first product promises performance figures worthy of their partnership with Rimac, including a 0-62 mph run in under two seconds, a sprint to 186 mph in less than 12 seconds, and a top speed beyond 250 mph. Driving range should also be greater than 310 miles, which is impressive for an ultra-high performance EV.
Pininfarina's relationship with the United States is interesting. The company's story began in the 1920s, when young Battista "Pinin" Farina spent a month in the US to see with his own eyes what our car business was like. Having taken the voyage from Genoa to New York, he then traveled to Michigan to study Ford's production system, and got invited to meet Henry Ford himself. , Battista talked a lot about his trips to the factory:
He showed Mr. Ford some of his sketches. Ford was surprised by his keen interest. He asked my father about his industrial ideas as well as his personal future. He has often recalled his lunch with Mr. Ford. He really admired him.
At the end of the lunch, Henry Ford offered him a job, but the 27-year-old Italian declined. Battista got married in 1920, and while working at his brother Giovanni's bodyshop, Stabilimenti Farina, he and his wife had two children, in 1922 and 1926. In 1930, Battista left his brother's shop to start his own business, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina—after his nickname, "Pinin" (or "little") Farina.
Battista did some work for General Motors in the '30s, but the war ended those relationships. In 1946, Pininfarina (the company's name now a single word) designed and produced the Cisitalia 202 GT, which was shown in the , described as "one of the eight outstanding cars of our time."
Pininfarina had talks with several American manufacturers, eventually signing a deal with Nash Motor of Detroit. The resulting Pininfarina-designed Ambassador debuted in 1952, while the Nash Healey entered limited production in Turin.
This, and Pininfarina's success in Europe, allowed the company to build a brand new factory, which was soon expanded into a 25 acre complex, 12 acres of which was under a roof. In 1961, at the age of 68, Pinin retired to let his son Sergio take the lead. At the same time, Giovanni Gronchi, the President of the Italian Republic, authorized the change of the family name from Farina to Pininfarina, so Battista, his children and grandchildren could all share a name with their company.
One of the last concepts shown under Battista's direction was 1960's Chevrolet Corvair Coupé Speciale, designed by Tom Tjaarda.
At the 1963 Paris Motor Show, Pininfarina debuted the Chevrolet Corvette Rondine, inspired by the Fiat 124 Sport Spider. Battista Pininfarina died three years later, in Lausanne.
Now, Pininfarina is back making cars, all designed to carry six-figure price tags. The Automobili division's design director is Luca Borgogno, the man responsible for the shape of the New Stratos, and its CEO, Michael Perschke, is a former Audi India guy.
Their aim? Maybe to teach the automotive world something new about design, even to giants like Ford. Let's not forget, it's been almost a century since Battista Farina first visited Liberty Island, yet his company is still going strong. Grazie mille, Mr. Ford.