PIN­IN­FA­RINA

The GFC al­most killed it, but now Italy’s most iconic de­sign house is be­ing re­born as a man­u­fac­turer

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents -

How the iconic Ital­ian de­sign house be­came a hy­per­car man­u­fac­turer

IT’S VIR­TU­ALLY im­pos­si­ble to dis­en­tan­gle the his­to­ries of Pin­in­fa­rina and Fer­rari. The fate of the styling house formed by Bat­tista ‘Pinin’ Fa­rina was in­ex­orably changed in 1951 when, in a small restau­rant in Tor­tona, Fa­rina and Fer­rari met. Since that dis­cus­sion over cof­fee, ev­ery Fer­rari road car bar the 1973 308 GT4 and the 2013 La­fer­rari have been Pin­in­fa­rina de­signs. Now there has been a still more seis­mic shift in the am­bi­tions of Pin­in­fa­rina. At this year’s Peb­ble Beach Con­cours d’el­e­gance, it dis­played the styling buck for its PF0 (‘PF zero’) elec­tric hy­per­car. Pin­in­fa­rina is now a man­u­fac­turer in its own right.

That’s the story the com­pany would want you to be­lieve, in any case. Speak at length to CEO Michael Per­schke and you’ll come away filled with vi­sions of a bur­geon­ing prod­uct port­fo­lio of high-con­cept, high-per­for­mance EV sedans, SUVS, coupes and shoot­ing brakes, giv­ing the likes of Lam­borgh­ini, Bent­ley and, yes, Fer­rari some­thing to con­tend with. De­spite stag­ger­ing from one debt re­struc­tur­ing and as­set sale to an­other post-gfc, money isn’t a prob­lem. That’s be­cause since 2015, Pin­in­fa­rina has been bankrolled by the fi­nan­cial might of Mahin­dra. An ini­tial €25.3m in­vest­ment bought a 76 per­cent stake in the com­pany. Since then it’s es­ti­mated that an­other €500m has poured into Pin­in­fa­rina, but it’s im­por­tant to sep­a­rate the new from the ‘old’.

Anand Mahin­dra, the Group Chair­man of the In­dian pow­er­house con­glom­er­ate, ex­plains a sub­tle but im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion. “Pin­in­fa­rina SPA is a de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing ser­vice provider not only for au­to­mo­biles but for the trans­porta­tion sec­tor as a whole, plus prod­uct de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture. Au­to­mo­bili Pin­in­fa­rina is a new com­pany that will use the Pin­in­fa­rina brand to pro­duce a hy­per elec­tric car,” he says. “Au­to­mo­bili Pin­in­fa­rina is a 100 per­cent sub­sidiary of Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra, while Pin­in­fa­rina is jointly con­trolled by Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra and its Tech Mahin­dra en­gi­neer­ing sub­sidiary.”

When asked whether cre­at­ing its own su­per sports cars would jeop­ar­dise Pin­in­fa­rina Spa’s ex­ist­ing busi­ness, Mahin­dra claimed that the ini­tial in­vest­ment

PININ (LEFT) & ENZO FORGED A BUSI­NESS RE­LA­TION­SHIP BE­TWEEN THE TWO COM­PA­NIES BACK IN THE EARLY ’50S THAT EN­DURES TO TO­DAY

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