Legendary Italian car designer Pininfarina dies | News | DW | 03.07.2012
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Legendary Italian car designer Pininfarina dies

Sergio Pininfarina, the "godfather" of Italian car design has died. He was 85. The engineer, designer and retired business leader went beyond mere functionality to focus in his final years on sleek electric cars.

His family's car design company said Tuesday that Pininfarina had died at his home in Turin overnight. It gave no cause of death. The Italian news agency Ansa said he had been ill for some time.

Pininfarina was born near Turin in 1926, graduated from university in mechanical engineering and joined the car design firm of his father Battista. The rise of the junior Pininfarina to stardom was marked by his determination to change the perception that cars are merely functional as people movers.

Piero Ferrari, the son of Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, squats next to a Ferrari FX in Tokyo

One of Pininfarina's sleek designs, the FX with Enzo Ferrari

Aside from designing Ferraris, Fiats and Maseratis, he also worked on less exotic models such as Peugeots and Mitsubishis.

Prominent names in car design and industry mourned Pininfarina's passing on Tuesday. Harald Wester, the head of Maserati, said his firm has lost a "great friend."

"Italy has lost one of its most prestigious world ambassadors," said Wester.

The Catholic-related Italian Confederation of Trade Unions (CISL) said Pininfarina had been a "constructive and attentive interlocutor."

Innovator and industrialist

Sergio Pininfarina opened Italy's first wind tunnel for testing vehicle aerodynamics in 1972 and became an early supporter of increasing fuel economy and reducing car emissions.

From 1979 he was a member of the European Parliament until 1988, when for four years he headed Italy's business association Confinindustria.

Close-up of Pininfarina speaking into a microphone at the Detroit Auto Show in 2004

Pininfarina in later years at Detroit's Auto Show

In 2006, Pininfarina handed over management of the car design firm to his son, Andrea, who died two years later in a traffic accident.

In March, the firm, which remains in family hands, presented a hybrid, the Cambiano, at the Geneva Motor Show.

It has four electric motors – one for each wheel – powered from batteries charged by a diesel-fueled turbine and bodywork comprising low-weight carbon and aluminium. From standstill, the driver can reach 100 kmh (62 mph) in 4.2 seconds.

ipj/mz (dpa, AP, AFP)