Because of Battista Farina’s car body designs, the Italian automotive industry will always be known for producing fast, luxurious, and iconic cars.
Born in Cortanze d’Asti, Italy in 1893, Farina was nicknamed “Pinin” meaning small/young. Though the name stuck, Battista became a giant of automotive design. At age 11, working at his brother’s body shop, “Stabilimenti Farina,” ignited Battista’s passion for automobiles. At 18, he was assigned his first major design project, creating the radiator for the new Fiat “Zero,” and Battista never looked back.
In 1920, enthralled by the budding American car industry, Battista traveled to Detroit to meet industry titan Henry Ford. Ford was so impressed with the 27 year-old, that he offered him a job on the spot. Battista was flattered by the offer, but chose instead to return to Italy inspired by the dynamism of Ford and the flourishing U.S. auto industry.
Throughout the 1920s, Battista continued to work on and drive innovative designs at his brother’s shop to feed his passion for fast and beautiful automobiles. Battista won the 1921 “Aosta-Gran San Bernardo” race in his own car, setting a track record that went unbroken for 11 years. At these tracks, Battista met future colleague, Enzo Ferrari. In 1930, Battista founded “Carrozzeria Pinin Farina,” putting his stamp on the auto industry. Before long, his company was producing 7-8 car bodies a day. In the 1930s, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina established relationships with GM and Renault and earned international acclaim.
Always the friendly, bright soul, Battista worked quickly to establish his name among the largest automakers in Europe, developing relationships with Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Nash, Peugeot, and Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari, his close friend, brought his signature designs to the world stage, using Battista’s bodies on all his cars. Thus the Pininfarina name became synonymous with Ferrari. In 1950, Nash Motors approached Battista and interior designer, Helene Rother, to rework their two-seat Healey Sports car. The Nash-Healey would be marketed as “Pininfarina designed” and became one of the most famous automobiles of its time.
In 1951, Battista’s 1947 “Cisitalia” was displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art as “one of the eight most outstanding cars of our time.” This car set the standard for post-war era automobiles.
Forever the family man, Battista entrusted his company and his life’s work to his son Sergio “Pinin” Farina and his son-in-law Renzo Carli upon his retirement in 1961.
In 1961, the Italian government authorized the change of Battista’s last name from Farina to Pininfarina as a symbol of gratitude for his contributions as a torch-bearer of the Italian auto industry.
In 1966, with Battista Pininfarina’s passing, the world lost a great entrepreneur. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2004. His son Sergio accepted his father’s award on behalf of the Pininfarina family.