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 Ferrari 812 Competizione comes in two varieties.

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

A new variant of the Ferrari 812 Superfast has been revealed. The Ferrari 812 Competizione models are a limited edition series of vehicles in two variants, coupe and targa, known as the Ferrari 812 Competizione and the Ferrari 812 Competizione A.

Both models sport a naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V12 engine that achieves 818 horsepower. The power plant is, on the surface, the same that is in the Ferrari 812 Superfast but engineers have tinkered with the fresh version to optimize fluid dynamics of the intake system and combustion, reducing internal friction.

Ferrari has paired the engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that the automaker says delivers a new type of shifting feeling. The setup retains the same gear ratios as the 812 Superfast but has more rpm range. The engine can rev to 9,500 rpm and a progressive growling comes spewing out of the car's exhaust system, which comes complete with a gasoline particulate filter that ensures the car meets modern emissions standards.

Ferrari 812 Competizione & Ferrari 812 Competizione A

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

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A single front air intake works to keep things cool up front marking the first time such an adaptation has occurred on a V12-powered Ferrari. The cooling circuit has also been improved making it 10 percent more efficient and the oil tank has been redesigned to allow for extra flow.

Engineers have given the new Ferraris added braking power. That includes a redesigned version of the caliper that was first used on the SF90 Stradale and other modifications. These changes allowed Ferrari to redesign the car's front underbody freeing up space around the lower front wishbone suspension and extending the area that could be used to generate downforce. The car has a passive mobile aero system.

The backside of the new variants has a unique design with a fresh exhaust layout, diffuser geometry, spoiler volume, patented rear screen, and bumper design. The rear diffuser now extends across the full width of the car and redesigned silencers and tailpipes that are integrated into a single pipe.

Four-wheel steering and independent rear-wheel steering features a new electronic management system. Refinements have been made to the car's response system to deliver a more connected drive experience. It features a new iteration of Ferrari's Side Slip Control system and rides on new Michelin Cup2R tires.

Weight savings abounds throughout the car and though much of it isn't apparent to the untrained eye, it helps the performance of the car. This includes the dashboard and door panels. The door panel pocket juts out from the main structure almost as if it were a floating element.

The 812 Competizione A features a number of modifications that differentiate it from the 812 Competizione including the implementation of a flying buttress design that helps the car's center of gravity to appear lower that the coupe's. When the targa top is stowed, the roll bars jut out becoming a secondary visual element.

Each of the cars comes standard with Ferrari's extended seven-year maintenance program.

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BMW's newest works are equal parts art and car.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has revealed "The Ultimate AI Masterpiece", an exploration of automobiles at the intersection of art in conjunction with Frieze New York 2021, as well as the 50th anniversary of BMW Group Cultural Engagement. The virtual art installation is supported by videos of the exhibit's creation process on YouTube and Instagram.

The installment is the brain child of creative technologist Nathan Shipley of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and Gary Yeh, art connoisseur/founder of artDrunk. The duo used the NVIDIA StyleGAN artificial intelligence model to "cross-reference over 50,000 images of artwork spanning 900 years of history and a curated set of 50 works from renowned and emerging contemporary artists BMW has worked with over the past 50 years", according to a release.

Frieze New York 2021: "The Ultimate AI Masterpiece"

Photo courtesy of BMW

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The artificial intelligence then used those pieces to create entirely new art, merging classical art with the work of contemporary artists. These new works have been projection-mapped onto a virtual rendition of BMW's flagship 8 Series Gran Coupe.

"For 50 years, BMW has supported the arts and culture through numerous initiatives as a way engage and interact with consumers around the world in an authentic way," said Uwe Dreher, vice president of marketing, BMW of North America. "As we continue these efforts into 2021, and look for new and creative ways to engage audiences, we shift to a virtual setting where we are combining centuries-old art and the latest AI technology to create something completely new and exciting."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shipley and Yeh collaborated digitally from their homes in San Francisco and Seoul for the project.

"During an unusually isolated time in history, we took the opportunity to curate and work with artists from around the world as a means to give viewers a true art experience digitally," said Gary Yeh, art collector and founder of ArtDrunk. It was particularly exciting to push the boundaries of art, see how technology may influence the art world in the years to come, and build on 50 years of cultural engagement at BMW."

Frieze New York is currently in its 10th edition and taking place at The Shed in Manhattan through May 9. The venue is new and features an event reimagined for its new location, bringing together over 60 major galleries. A dedicated edition of Frieze Viewing Room will run parallel to the fair, through May 14, and will feature an expanded list of over 160 exhibitors.

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