Italian car designer who created some of the most stylish models, including Ferrari and Bentley
Sergio Pininfarina, who has died aged 85, crafted sleek Ferrari race cars and created some of the most influential and elegant designs of the 20th Century.
When Sergio Farina, as he then was, began playing a leading role in his father's Turin-based design and coachbuilding business in the mid-Fifties, annual production at the company was fewer than 1,000 handcrafted units. By the end of the century, annual production had reached nearly 50,000 units and the company had grown to three manufacturing plants.
Sergio became best-known for his partnership with Enzo Ferrari, for whom he designed a series of beautifully sculpted models, including the 410 SA (1959); the 1965 Dino Berlinetta Speciale (Sergio's own favourite); the Ferrari Testarossa (1984); the F40 (1987); and the Enzo (2002).
He also won other important contracts. The 1975 Lancia Beta Montecarlo, the 2003 Maserati Quattroporte, the 1986 Cadillac Allante and the 1995 Bentley Azure were among a range of high-end cars wearing the Pininfarina insignia.
As a young man Pininfarina had become convinced that the family business needed to evolve from making handmade units for a few wealthy people to products for a more general market. Under his leadership the firm diversified into a range of extremely successful high-volume models, including the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider and the Peugeot 406 coupe.
Pininfarina was never content to rest on his laurels and always kept abreast of the latest technology, becoming an early advocate of the need to reduce car emissions and increase fuel economy.
Sergio Farina was born on September 8, 1926, in Turin, where, four years later, his father Battista "Pinin" Farina would found his coach-building works as the Carrozzeria Pinin Farina.
Even before he officially joined the business, Sergio was involved in helping his father. In 1946, as Italy was barred from participating in the Paris Motor Show, the two set off from Turin for France driving two new cars, an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 S and a Lancia Aprilia cabriolet. When they reached the Grand Palais in Paris they parked the cars in front of the entrance to the show, stealing the limelight from the exhibits inside.
After graduating in mechanical engineering in 1950, Sergio joined his father's company and quickly became involved in all aspects of the business, from design to engineering and manufacturing. The following year his father put him in charge of the new account he had just signed with Ferrari: "I was scared to death because Enzo Ferrari was already a legend in car racing and notorious for being difficult to deal with," Sergio recalled in 2006. But Pininfarina's good nature and design skills impressed the great man and helped to cement a lasting partnership. In 1955 Sergio was instrumental in the foundation of a long and fruitful association with the French manufacturer Peugeot.
By 1961 he had been promoted to managing director, and the same year the family surname was changed (by presidential decree) from Farina to Pininfarina. After his father died in 1966, Sergio became chairman.
For the next 40 years Sergio Pininfarina led from the front, making the final decision on every project as the company turned out a series of stunningly elegant creations. In 2006 he stepped down as chairman of the company, to be succeeded by his oldest son, Andrea, who was killed in a motorcycle accident the following year. The current chairman is Sergio's younger son, Paolo.
Sergio Pininfarina served as head of Italy's industrial employers' confederation, Confindustria, from 1988 to 1992 and was made a life senator of Italy in 2005. He is survived by his wife, Georgia, and by his son and daughter.