Vintage & Classics

Who was Battista 'Pinin' Farina?

Italian car designers Battista Farina (1893 - 1966, left) and his son Sergio (1926 - 2012), of the Pininfarina car design and coachbuilding firm, Italy, 28th September 1956.

Photo by Thurston Hopkins/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Life wasn't always sexy for the man who would make his mark on the automotive world by helping to design some of the sexiest cars ever made.

Battista Farina was born in 1893 in Cortanze, a small town in northwest Italy, the 10th of 11 children. While still a boy, his parents gave him the nickname "Pinin" meaning baby in Piedmontese, a romance language spoken in Italy's Piedmont region. Though he would grow to be just five feet tall, Pinin's impact was large.

Near the turn of the century, Pinin's older brother Giovanni became an apprentice for a coachbuilder in Turin. Coachbuilding is the practice of crafting the body of a mode of transportation whether it take on a more primitive form as the body of a carriage or wagon, or in its modern iteration as custom bodies for bespoke motor vehicles.

Henry Ford Model THenry Ford with his Model T. Ford tried to hire Farina but was not successful.Photo by Getty Images

In 1920, Battista Farina met auto industry icon Henry Ford. By the time they were acquainted, Ford was already successful having launched then left a company that would be renamed Cadillac in his absence and starting the Ford Motor Company with help from the Dodge brothers (yes, those Dodge brothers), eventually mass producing the Model T.

Family legend has it that Ford asked Farina, 30 years his junior, to come work for him. What words were said between them have gone the way of the wind, but it resulted in Farina heading back to Italy and forever changing the look of automotive muscle.

Ten years later, Farina founded his own artisan coachbuilding and design company, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina. The incorporation papers list its founding address as 107 Corso Trapani, Turin, Italy. Today, at that address stands a rather nondescript building across the street from a popular family-owned pizza restaurant east of downtown.

The coachbuilding company was the first to build a vehicle body using what is now known as unibody construction.

World War II took its toll on Italy and nearly brought Italian vehicle construction to a standstill. The Pinin Farina factory pivoted to constructing the bodies of ambulances and searchlight carriages that were needed to support the war effort.

Turin was one of the most-bombed cities in Northern Italy during the Second World War with air raids lasting from 1940 to 1945. Fiat, Lacia, and Michelin factories were struck.

Grand PalaisGrand Palais on Winston Churchill Avenue in Paris. The site is famous for being where Farina's post-World War II vehicle display crashed the 1946 Paris Motor Show.Photo by Getty Images

Following the war, cars from German, Italian, and Japanese companies were banned from attending the 1946 Paris Motor Show. That did not deter Farina. He had two cars that he wanted to show off, a Lancia Aprilia Cabriolet and an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Speciale.

Pinin and his 20-year old son Sergio got behind the wheel of the cars and drove them to Paris, by way of Geneva, Lausanne, and Monte Carlo, parking them on Avenue Winston Churchill, directly in front of the entrance to the Grand Palais where the show was being held. Attendees had to walk by them to get in.

The crowd went wild and the cars became the stars of the show that year, despite not being allowed to actually be there.

The Alfa had been commissioned by perfume designer Giuliana Tortoli di Cuccioli who agreed to sell the car to Farina following the show. Farina had the car as his daily driver until 1948 when he sold it to Leonard Lord, the chairman of Austin.

Cisitalia 202 Nuvolari Spyder A Cisitalia 202 Nuvolari Spyder displayed at the Salon Prive luxury car event at Blenheim Palace on September 3, 2015 in Woodstock, England. Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Six years younger than Farina, Italian race car driver Piero Dusio was the founder of Cisitalia, an Italian sports and racing car brand. Dusio's company teamed up with Pinin Farina to create the famed Cisitalia 202. It all started with a chassis the company provided to Farina to handcraft an aluminum body onto. The coupe model established Farina's reputation as a master of the industry and his company as one of the finest in the world. Just 107 Cisitalia 202s were sold.

In 1951, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City displayed the Cisitalia 202 as part of its exhibit "Eight Automobiles" declaring it one of best ever designed.

The firm forged working relationships some of the world's greatest automakers over the last century - Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Nash, Peugeot, and Rolls-Royce – but it was its relationship with Ferrari that would most stand the test of time.

Farina's first foray with Ferrari was in 1952. It would become a historic partnership for both entities resulting in some of the most beautiful cars ever crafted with over 200 Ferraris designed by the bespoke coach builder over the ensuing decades.

Enzo Ferrari Pinin FarinaItalian race car driver and businessman Enzo Ferrari (1898 - 1988, right) meets automobile designer Battista 'Pinin' Farina (1893 - 1966, centre) in Maranello, northern Italy, circa 1958. They are there to hold an informal discussion on a new approach to the automobile industry. Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Farina's artisan company was growing by leaps and bounds as it found success with Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat, and Maserati models throughout the '50s. The company moved its headquarters to Grugliasco, Italy in 1958.

Pinin Farina's design for the Giulietta Spider was accepted by Alfa Romeo and because the first vehicle large scale production vehicle the humble Italian company ever produced, with over 4,000 made in 1959.

Farina officially changed his name to "Battista Pininfarina" in 1961 and relinquished control of his company to Sergio and his son-in-law, Renzo Carli.

Pinifarina continued to take an active role in the operations of the company. His last design was the Alfa Romeo 1600 Duetto, which came to market as the Alfa Romeo Spider 1600.

Pinifarina died in 1966, shortly after the Duetto was unveiled.

The company that bears his name recently paid homage to their founder with the debut of the Pininfarina Batista 1,900-horsepower all-electric super luxury sports car. To celebrate the company's 90th anniversary, this year they revealed a €2.6 million version of the model called the Pininfarina Battista Anniversario.

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Toyota patented a dog-walking robot.

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Pets are one of life's great pleasures, but there's no disputing that they're a ton of work. Cleaning, vet visits, and walks are just the beginning, so it's always interesting to see the products that promise to make pet ownership more manageable. Toyota, the world's largest automaker, filed a patent for a self-driving dog-walking robot that looks nearly as advanced as many cars today.

Toyota Dog Walk RobotLogic helps the bot determine when to clean up a mess. Toyota

The main structure appears to be a platform with various attachments, and though the intention is for the machine to walk the dog for you, there's space for a person to ride. The vehicle is completely autonomous and does not require a person to guide it on walks. Sensors keep the robot from running over the dog and maintain speed.The patent paperwork includes several decision trees and logic for how the vehicle responds in various dog walking scenarios. One uses the vehicle's sensors to gauge the dog's distance from the robot. If the dog wanders too far, the machine can lock the leash and adjust its speed to maintain proper distance. It's the same sort of "thinking" done by autonomous cars on the road, just adjusted for scooping poop and leash management.

Speaking of number-two, dogs tend to poop when they walk, so Toyota had to prepare the robot for some poop scooping. In its decision-making process, Toyota added logic that asks, "Is it detected that the dog has pooped?" If the answer is yes, the machine is then instructed to "Execute collection process." A camera helps determine when the pooping has happened so the machine can do its job. If the dog pees, there's a water sprayer with an onboard tank to rinse the ground.

If your dog is anything like some of ours, it's likely you don't make through more than a few walks without some antics. Our lazy pups frequently get tired of walking and decide it's time for a mid-sidewalk nap, but Toyota's dog walker isn't going to tolerate any of that. The platform features paw sensors that can sense the dog's position and even let it do some driving.

Toyota Dog Walk RobotThe bot will scoop poop and wash away pee during a walk.

Toyota's patent filing is fun to think about and imagine what could be, but it's still just a patent. The automaker could turn its idea into a line of puppy walkers sold at dealers across the country or file it away as a thought exercise, never to be seen again. Either way, Toyota's got an exciting year ahead of it with the GR Corolla release and bZ4X hitting the streets, and there are rumors of a Crown SUV coming to the automaker's lineup.

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The winner of this Lancia will pay well over $200,000.

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Rad-era cars have been all the rage for a few years now, but a handful of iconic and legendary models have risen to the top. The Lancia Delta Integrale, whose heritage lies on countless rally stages around the world, is one. Even rough examples of the car draw big dollars at auction. This one, however, is not rough. This 1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Martini 5 Evoluzione is one of just 400 units produced for the model year, and shows just 104 miles on its odometer.

1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Martini 5 EvoluzioneJust 400 of the Martini cars were made for 1992.Bring a Trailer

Under the hood lies a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that made more than 200 horsepower. These cars could do 0-60 mph in around six seconds, which was a big deal in the 1990s and is still fairly quick by today's standards. The Lancia comes with all-wheel drive and a five-speed manual gearbox.

Inside, a classic three-spoke steering wheel and oh-so-neat suede-like seats come with red contrasting stitching. This is a 1990s car from a tiny Italian automaker, so the interior finishes are simple and (mostly) straightforward. The old-school tape deck stereo sits atop a row of confusingly-labeled buttons, but in most other ways, the Lancia's cabin looks delightfully utilitarian.

1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Martini 5 EvoluzioneThe car's interior is quirky, but straightforward as a 90s car should be. Bring a Trailer

At the time of this article, the Lancia's price tag had ballooned to $244,444, but there is still a half-hour left to go. Many auctions see the final price jump quickly in the final moments of bidding, as people desperately try to get hands on the car. Outside of massively-priced supercars, this is one that we'll say easily warrants its deep six-figure price tag.

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