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 T Henry 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 Palais Grand 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 Farina Italian 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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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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The LEGO Speed Champions series is adding two new Dodge models to its lineup.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The new LEGO Speed Champions series is expanding by two. A 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster are being added to the growing collection. They are the first purple vehicle and first Top Fuel Dragster in the Speed Champion series.

"Owning, or aspiring to own, a Dodge muscle car is as much about the lifestyle of joining the Brotherhood of Muscle as it is about the vehicle purchase," said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. "As a result, our brand enthusiasts are passionate about all things Dodge, including the latest cool collectibles. So, following the success of the Dodge 2018 LEGO Speed Champion building set, fans will now be able to build and show off not only the first ever 8-inch-wide (8W) muscle car, but also the first ever Plum Crazy 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, along with an incredibly detailed 13½-long Top Fuel Dragster."

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge box The 627-piece Challenger T/A and Dragster include box art of their Rea-life counterparts. Photo courtesy of Stellantis

LEGO has had the Challenger over two inches high, five inches long, and 2.5 inches wide. The Dragster is four inches high thanks to its wing, and has a body that is 13.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide.

The set features a male Challenger driver in Dodge-branded clothing. The Dragster has a female driver in a Dodge race suit.

"In 2021, we are extremely excited to reteam with Dodge and expand the Speed Champions 8W Vehicle Collection even further by including new vehicle types and building experiences, for the first time, that appeal to vehicle fans of all ages," said Christopher Stamp, LEGO Design Lead.

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge The set includes two models.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The models will be released on June 1, 2021 at LEGO.com. Pricing for the models is not yet available.

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