Sergio Pininfarina: a legend of Italian automotive sector

The Italian genius was known as “Drake” for his capacity to always create something new and innovative

08-09-201706:22by
Maserati A6GCS Berlinetta Pininfarina
Maserati A6GCS Berlinetta Pininfarina (Credits: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/GettyImages)

Today, 8th September, would be the birthday of Sergio Pininfarina who was born in Turin in 1926. His father, Battista, was a coachbuilder trained in the Unites States by Henry Ford himself. But he refused to live and work overseas, deciding to go back to Italy. Battista opened his company four years before Sergio was born so that young Sergio grew up in the family company up surrounded by cars. One of Battista’s masterpieces was the Cisitalia (1946), today at the New York Modern Art Museum.

Sergio graduated in mechanic engineering from Milan Politecnico in 1950, same year when his cousin Giuseppe Farina becomes the first Formula 1 world champion. Since mid 1950s, Sergio starts working full time in his father company also collaborating with Ferrari. Sergio was a key personality mediating between his father and Enzo Ferrari: he had to prepare adequate proposals to the Maranello company and sell them. Sergio was a very intuitive person and was known as “Drake” for his capacity to read create something new and innovative, which appealed the costumers.

Not everybody knows that his real last name was “Farina” but Sergio changed his surname adding the prefix “Pinin” to honour his father. In fact, Battista was known in dialect as “Pinin”.

Sergio became president of the company in 1966, after his father passed away. He soon opened a new centre for research and study. Sergio’s devotion to research lead him to great achievements: he opened the first “wind gallery” in Italy, taught coach building techniques at Milan Politecnico, in 1976 he was recognized Knight of Labour and in 1979 he was elected as European deputy with the liberal party.

Sergio also became president of the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and also of Confindustria, the Italian employers’ federation and national chamber of commerce. Sergio was also nominated life senator before passing away in 2012.

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