Tom Tjaarda ex­plains ex­e­cut­ing styling nu­ances that still res­onate 50 years on

Cre­at­ing a de­sign that will still look el­e­gant 50 years later takes more than just a few sketches, as Tom learned when he worked for Bat­tista Pin­in­fa­rina

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents -

Back in the Six­ties we weren’t given de­sign briefs. When work­ing for Pin­in­fa­rina, I knew ex­actly what was ex­pected – time­less el­e­gance, whether the project in­volved an af­ford­able sedan or an ex­pen­sive Fer­rari.

How do de­sign­ers achieve this ob­jec­tive? Ini­tially a sketch pro­posal could be just a ren­der­ing of an idea, an im­age. In such cases the de­sign di­rec­tor re­quired a good eye for po­ten­tial and our di­rec­tor, Franco Marti­nengo, had just that.

Once a pro­posal was se­lected, the real work started. Then we had to de­velop that de­sign theme into a durable styling so­lu­tion. Just be­fore the sum­mer va­ca­tion in 1963 Marti­nengo ex­plained an im­por­tant project we would be work­ing on upon our re­turn: a spe­cial coupé de­sign on the Flaminia chas­sis that was to be shown at the Paris Auto Sa­lon in Oc­to­ber.

I was ex­cited and pro­duced nu­mer­ous sketches dur­ing the Au­gust break, so when I re­turned to Turin I had a num­ber of pro­pos­als ready. Marti­nengo se­lected one as the base for this ‘Lan­cia Flaminia Spe­ciale’ and we set about cre­at­ing a show car for Paris which, hope­fully, would en­tice Lan­cia’s di­rec­tors enough for them to ap­prove a spe­cial pro­duc­tion pro­gramme at Pin­in­fa­rina.

I started by draw­ing full-size plans on the Flaminia chas­sis, leav­ing the dis­tinc­tive Lan­cia front of the pro­duc­tion Flaminia un­touched. The rear was the fo­cal point of this new de­sign and changed the whole im­age of this car – the pro­file was dif­fer­ent, with the roof blend­ing in. It all came to­gether eas­ily and we had no prob­lems build­ing the wood buck to be used as a guide for the metal pro­to­type.

But just to make sure, alu­minum pan­els were made of the rear of the car, tacked onto the wood buck and pol­ished, then taken out­side in the sun for us to study the re­flec­tions and pro­por­tions. This was to make sure we had no cum­ber­some de­fects that would even­tu­ally show up. At Pin­in­fa­rina this was a nor­mal pro­ce­dure – it was a lot of work but the com­pany had built a rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity de­sign and this at­ten­tion to de­tail was one of the rea­sons why. Hours and days went by be­fore the fi­nal ap­proval was given by Bat­tista Pin­in­fa­rina and the pro­to­type was rapidly com­pleted and sent off to Paris.

Un­for­tu­nately it never made it as a niche car pro­duc­tion project but Bat­tista Pin­in­fa­rina had a spe­cial at­tach­ment to the car and had the pro­to­type ho­molo­gated so that he could use it as per­sonal trans­port. I re­mem­ber see­ing him driv­ing up to his fac­tory and step­ping out of the Lan­cia Flaminia Spe­ciale dressed in his el­e­gant camel’s hair over­coat. He was the pic­ture of suc­cess and one could see how he had ac­com­plished such a distin­guished rep­u­ta­tion.

Last sum­mer Pin­in­fa­rina or­gan­ised a reunion of its fa­mous cars. The event was held at the same Ital­ian Riviera re­sort town of Alas­sio that more than 50 years be­fore had awarded the Lan­cia Flaminia Spe­ciale the first place ac­co­lade in a sim­i­lar show. That sum­mer, af­ter half a cen­tury, the Lan­cia Flaminia Spe­ciale pro­to­type by Pin­in­fa­rina was again voted the most el­e­gant car of the show.

Tom’s re­mark­able ca­reer de­sign­ing cars has in­cluded spells with Ghia, Pin­in­fa­rina, Italde­sign, Ford and Fiat, adding up to a 79-car CV.

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