ANDREA Pininfarina, head of the famed company that designed a multitude of automobiles like Ferraris, Maseratti, Bentley, Fiats and the Ford Focus, died in a road crash in the early hours of Thursday near Turin while riding his motor scooter.
Pininfarina, 51, was the grandson of the founder of a car body design company that became synonymous with some of the most iconic automobile body shells not only in Italy but throughout the world.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a statement that Pininfarina was "the representative of a dynasty that helped bring the story of 'Made in Italy' to the world."
Fiat and Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo praised his business acumen.
"Italy, Turin and the Fiat group have lost a business figure who knew how to follow and develop the work of his grandfather Pinin and his father Sergio," Montezemolo said in a statement.
The driver of the car, 78-year-old Giuliano Salmi, was taken to hospital suffering from shock.
"I didn't see him, I was going slowly and I really didn't see him," Salmi said, according to local news agency Ansa.
Founded in 1930 by Battista “Pinin” Farina, as a small auto body shop, the company had already stamped its individuality on such prewar Italian cars as the Alfa Romeo 2300 and the Lancia Aprilia.
It got into its stride in the postwar period with the superb Ferrari 250 of 1952 and three years later produced the characterful Peugeot 403, beginning a long and fruitful association with the French manufacturer that was to be repeated notably in the elegant 504 convertible.
Towards the end of the decade the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider was renowned not only as one of the most beautiful of small sports cars but became an immense seller for a car of its type, with 27,000 produced. With its slender lines it is still one of the loveliest sights on the road today.
Under the influence of Sergio Pininfarina, the founder’s son, the 1960s and afterwards saw the the body styling of the cars of almost all the leading automobile manufacturers in the world influenced by the Pininfarina genius, as Sergio developed the company into a world-class automotive design group.
Chevrolet succumbed to the beguiling touch of Pininfarina with its Corvette Rondine (Swallow). In Britain that modest family saloon the Austin A40 suddenly acquired an Italianate look with the Farina Mark II version of 1961, while the styling of Rolls-Royce (Camargue) and Jaguar (XJ6) were also to benefit from an “Italian job”. Meanwhile in Germany, under the aegis of Pininfarina Deutschland, a Mercedes-Benz “bendy bus” also suddenly acquired a distinctly meridional style.
In the era of Andrea Pinifarina, who had been chief executive of the company since 2001, there had been co-operation with the Swedish company Volvo, design for the South Korean companies Daewoo and Hyundai, development of links already established with the Chinese company Hafei and a limited edition Ferrari supercar, the Enzo, among many other projects.
Andrea Pininfarina was born in Turin in 1957. Unsurprisingly, given the family ambience, he received a technical education, and studied engineering at Turin Polytechnic from which he graduated in 1981.
After a couple of years with the Fruehauf corporation in the US, he returned to the family company, where he became programme manager of the Cadillac Allanté project to style the American company’s first luxury roadster. In 1987 he was promoted to joint general manager, becoming general manager the following year. In 1994 he became managing director.
The decade was a period of renewal and innovation at Pininfarina. Among new models were the Ferrari 456GT, the Peugeot 306 Cabriolet and the Bentley Azure. The company also addressed itself to energy and environmental problems with a range of new prototypes, among them the GM Chronos, the Peugeot Nautilus and the Alfa Romeo Dardo.
At the Turin motor show of 2000, the 70th birthday was celebrated with the introduction of a Ferrari research prototype and an international forum entitled On the Roads of the Future.
In 2000, at the 70th Geneva International Motor Show — also the 70th anniversary of the founding of Pininfarina — the company introduced four new designs: the Ferrari 360m Spider, Daewoo Tacuma, Coupé Fiat Special Interpretation and the Peugeot 406 Coupé, appropriately dubbed “Pininfarina settant’anni”.
Latterly, with the automotive industry under severe pressure from the economic downturn, Pininfarina had suffered heavy losses — more than ¤Meawhile, i
Andrea Pininfarina was married to Cristina Maddalena Pellion di Persano. She and their three children survive him. His father, Sergio, is still honorary chairman of the company.