The grandson of the company's founder has his say.
One look and you know it’s the work of genius. Pininfarina, founded in 1930 by Battista “Pinin” Farina, has had a long and distinguished history. You’ve seen its gorgeous designs on countless Ferraris, including the 275 GTB4, Dino 246 GTS and 458 Italia, to name just a few. But like many other Italian design and engineering firms, Pininfarina has struggled financially over the last decade. After a series of moves to restructure and raise capital, the Pininfarina family nearly lost control of the company.
Fortunately, that’s all a thing of the past. Mahindra Group bought 75% of Pininfarina last year in a deal worth nearly $185 million. With everything looking up again, Pininfarina went bold for Geneva by, as we described it earlier, dropping an H-bomb. It’s called the H2 Speed, an absolutely stunning design study that envisions a hydrogen-powered car future. I had a chance to speak with Chairman Paolo Pininfarina last week at Geneva about his grandfather’s company and where it’s heading. Question (Cartownhack): You recently became a part of the Mahindra family; what does that mean for the Pininfarina brand?
Answer (Paolo Pininfarina): It’s an opportunity to keep the company’s vision alive. We are not becoming a part of Mahindra…we’ll keep our independence. Q: Will you continue your decades-long relationship with Ferrari? A: We will continue to have a consultancy with Ferrari while also looking for opportunities with new partners. Q: Is there any specific car you're most proud of? Is there, a "definitive" Pininfarina-designed Ferrari?
A: I don’t like the word "definitive" because these cars are made by two entities. I’m very proud of all of our collaborations. But today’s car… (enthusiastically pointing at it – ed) is my favorite. We’ll build no more than 10 for the track with FIA homologation. Q: Going forward, how can your company further influence global automotive design now that you're a part of a much bigger automaker? A: Mahindra is more of an engineering company. We can also do (design work) for trucks, buses, etc.
Q: Do you believe that coachbuilders such as yourself can only survive in today's global market if you're a part of a large corporation? A: Can’t say for sure but we’ll continue to make limited editions...for history’s sake. Although our interview time was short, having the opportunity to speak with Mr. Pininfarina was special. His family, and the company that bears its name, is legendary in the automotive industry. Now that Pininfarina has been given a new lease of life, more magnificent displays of design and technology, like the H2 Speed, are guaranteed to come. Bravo, Pininfarina. Bravo.