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Ciao Bello. Sergio Pininfarina Dies plus a Look Back at His Flirtation with Audi

It is a sad day indeed for the design industry and the automotive world. Sergio Pininfarina, the mind behind some of the most beautiful and significant cars to ever turn a wheel, has died. According to the company that bears his name, the legendary automotive designer passed away last night at his home in Turin, Italy. Born in 1926, Pininfarina died at the age of 85.

Born the son of Gian Battitsta ‘Pinin’ Farina who began his own career as a carriage maker in Turin, the Sergio and the design firm that bore his name built a long career for some of the most beautiful automobiles over many decades. And though his name and his firm are more synonymous with marques like Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, Sergio Pininfarina did enjoy some ties to Audi via several projects over the years.

Most notable and the only to bear the Audi badge, was the 1981 Audi Quartz. That concept began as a 75th anniversary present from Sergio Pininfarina to his good friends at Swiss automotive magazine ‘Automobil Revue’. His plan was to build a fully functional sports coupe and after seeing the ground-breaking Audi quattro debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980, knew he’d found a basis.

Audi itself was cooperative, providing Pininfarina with a chassis of its state-of-the-art quattro as donor. Over the summer, the new body was added, utilizing many cutting edge technologies. Where the quattro used its quad square standard headlights, the Quartz used 75mm DE lights. The body itself was made of layered carbon fiber, allowing the Quartz to drop some 90 kg on the quattro and to achieve a 0-62 mph time of 7.1 seconds when it was eventually road tested by the Swiss magazine.

Inside, the interior was also subjected to a thorough redesign. White leather sport seats with square stitch pattern, red carpet and a completely stylized dashboard make for a (now retro) modern design. And even though it was a concept, the Pininfarina staff made certain to retain the Audi gauges and switch gear in order to keep the car fully functional.

The Quartz’s smooth design stands in stark contrast to Audi’s early ’80s design language as seen on the ur quattro, that had been set into motion by the original B2 80 design submitted by competing Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. This re-bodied B2 was slippery smooth. With a drag coefficient of just 0.45 and its wrap-around bumpers, this car’s design seemed more a look to the future of the 1990s. A unique finishing touch on the car and a nod to the four rings of Audi was the unique interlocking four exhaust pipes… the only brand mark on the back of the car.

Audi eventually bought the car and the Quartz now resides within the Audi Tradition collection. It can often be found on the concept-themed paternoster in the Musuem Mobile in Ingolstadt, rotating past guests along with many other vintage Audi concept cars.

As for Pininfarina, he eventually moved up to chairman of the family business. The styling house itself grew to not simply design cars but also to build them. In 1986, the firm was added to the Italian stock exchange. By 2006, the aging Sergio Pininfarina stepped down from his post to take the position of honorary chairman.

Below is the full press release from the Pininfarina Group.

Life Senator Sergio Pininfarina, Honorary Chairman of the Pininfarina Group, Passed Away Last Night at His Home in Turin

Turin, July 3 2012 – Life Senator Sergio Pininfarina, Honorary Chairman of the Pininfarina Group, passed away last night at his home in Turin. Until the last moment his wife Giorgia and sons Lorenza and Paolo were close to him.

The Board of Directors and the Company gather around the family in the undying memory of the entrepreneurial figure of Sergio Pininfarina, who led the Company for many years with steady hand bringing the business in the world, following the tradition of elegance and style constantly renewed with the highest standards of innovation and harmonious beauty.

Sergio Pininfarina was born in Turin on September 8, 1926. He graduated in mechanical engineering from the Polytechnic of Torino in 1950, then he began his career in the family firm, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina; in 1960, he undertook the responsibility of General Manager of the firm; in 1961 he became also Managing Director and in 1966, at his fatherÕs death, he took over the Chairmanship of the Company; in 2006 he became Honorary Chairman. In 1961, the President of the Italian Republic, Giovanni Gronchi, changed by decree the name Farina in Pininfarina. In 2005 he was appointed Life Senator for honouring the Country by high merits in the social field.

Among the most significant stages of his activity in Pininfarina: from 1955 to 1958, the planning and the construction of new facilities at Grugliasco (Torino); the construction of the new Studies and Research Centre inaugurated in 1966; in 1972, the Wind Tunnel on 1:1 scale started its activities, the first in Italy and one of the few in the world; in 1979, Pininfarina took the form of an holding Company; in 1982, a new company ‘Pininfarina Studi e Ricerche S.p.A.’ was settled at Cambiano (Torino); in 1986, a new plant in San Giorgio Canavese – near Turin – started operating; in the same year, Pininfarina successfully entered the Italian Stock Exchange; in 1986, with the setting up the company ‘Pininfarina Extra S.r.l.’, the Pininfarina Group enlarged its design activities towards all the areas of the industrial design, beyond the traditional one of the means of transport; in 1987 a new plant in Bairo Canavese is acquired; in 1991 ‘Pininfarina Deutschland GmbH’ was set up; in 2002 it is inaugurated in Cambiano the new Engineering Centre; in 2003 the incorporation of the new Company ‘Pininfarina Sverige AB’.

Main past positions include:

• From 1974 to 1977 he has been professor of ‘Car Body Design’ at the Polytechnic of Torino.
• President of the Industrial Association of Torino (1978-1984);
• Member of the European Parliament (1979-1988);
• President of the Federation of Industrial Associations of Piedmont (1983-1988);
• President of International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (1987-1989);
• President of Confindustria (1988-1992);
• Board Member of AUME (Association for the Monetary Union of Europe, 1989-1997);
• Vice President of UNICE (Union of Industrial and EmployersÕ Confederations of Europe, 1990-1994);
• President of Comitato Leonardo – Italian Quality Committee (1993-1996);
• Co-President of ‘Comitato per la Direttrice Ferroviaria Europea Transpadana’ (1991-2001);
• President of Banca CRT (2001-2002);
• Chief of the Italian delegation in the Intergovernmental Italian- French Commission for the new highspeed railway link between Lyon and Turin (2001-2005);
• Chairman FIDIA S.p.A. (1996-2006);
• Co-President Italy-Japan Business Group (2004-2007);
• Chairman Editrice La Stampa S.p.A. (2004-2008);
• Member of the Board of Directors of Ferrari S.p.A. (1969-2011).

Sergio Pininfarina received numerous honours. The main are: he was appointed ‘Cavaliere del Lavoro’ by the President of the Italian Republic (1976); Legion d’ Honneur (Chevalier, 1979, and Officier, 1997), ‘Honorary Royal Designer for Industry’ (1983), Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (1988), Designer Lifetime Achievement Award (1991), Super Trophie de l’Automobile Magazine (1992), ‘Guglielmo Tagliacarne’ award (1994) , the ‘Italy in the World’ award (1994), the Career Award Compasso d’Oro (1995), the ‘France-Italie’ Award (1997), ‘Lion d’Oro’ (1998), ‘Trophie du designÓ (1998), Premio Leonardo (1999), ‘Head of the Century in the International Automotive Hall of Fame’ (2001), the award ‘Torino libera’ (2001), Business and Culture Award (2003), Palme d’Or du Festival Automobile International (2005), Automotive Hall of Fame of Dearborn, Michigan (2007); European Automotive Hall of Fame of Geneva (2008).

He received 4 Honorary Degrees: in 1993 the Honorary Degree in Economics and Commerce by the LUISS-Rome; in 2002 the one of the Royal College of Art of London and the one in Industrial Design of the Polytechnic of Milano; in 2004 the one as Doctor of Fine Arts from the College for Creative Studies-CCS of Detroit.


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