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Classic Car Designer Of The Day: Battista Farina


Classic Car Designer Of The Day is a segment that looks at the career of a famous car designer. Battista Farina is responsible for creating the Italian styling house giant, Pininfarina. His partnership with Ferrari generated a number of elegant designs and he became one of the greatest car designers of his generation.

Early life

Born in Torino in 1893, Farina came from a big family, being the youngest of eleven siblings. This earned him the nickname ‘Pinin’ and by the time he was 11, he was working at his brother Giovanni’s body shop. When he was 18, Farina had the opportunity to design a radiator for the Fiat Zero. When asked if he preferred his design or Fiat’s, Farina told founder Giovanni Agnelli “I prefer this one because I designed it.” This kind of boldness defined the rest of his career.


In the 1920s, the American automotive industry was booming. Farina went to the US to investigate and he met Henry Ford, who offered him a job on the spot. Farina politely declined, having developed a dream of running his own business. He returned to Italy and set about starting up his company.

Car design career

In 1930, Farina left his brother’s firm to start Pininfarina with the help of Lancia. Setting up on Corso Trapani in Torino, he started making custom car bodies that were based on Italian chassis. Farina’s designs quickly became known for their classical, conservative looks.


After WW2, Farina produced the 1947 Cisitalia 202 coupe, which many consider to be his finest work. He was involved with the design from start to finish, which allowed him to include a horizontal radiator as well as integrate the fenders with the body sides. The Cisitalia proved to be so impressive that the Museum of Modern Art in New York dubbed it one of the ten greatest cars of all time.


In the 1950s, Pininfarina prospered and Farina designed models based on the Alfa Romeo 1900 and 62C2500. The most well known marque associated with the company is Ferrari, though the partnership didn’t happen until 1951. It was said Farina and Enzo Ferrari were so stubborn they refused to visit each other’s headquarters. They chose to meet on neutral ground in Tortona, a small town halfway between Torino and Modena.

Later years

In 1961, Farina chose his son Sergio and son-in-law Renzo Carli as his successors. The last car design he personally oversaw was the 1600 Duetto for Alfa Romeo. His later years were devoted to travelling and charity work, for which he received many honours, including the key to the city of Detroit.


Farina passed away on the 3rd April 1966, though his influence on the automotive industry is still felt today.

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