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Pininfarina, the longtime Italian automobile design house and coachbuilder announced yesterday, October 13th, 2011, that they were closing their manufacturing operations to focus solely on automobile design and engineering! PF recently completed its partnership with Volvo.

Rival Italian coachbuilders Bertone basically shut it's doors recently and Italdesign recently was sold to Volkswagen.

Thirty-one years ago I worked for Pininfarina as a designer. Daily, I would cut through manufacturing on my way to the company cafeteria for lunch, walking by various cars being built; the Alfa Romeo Spider, the Lancia MonteCarlo (Scorpion in the U.S.), and the Peugeot 504 Cabriolet. Although the sheet metal was stamped with presses, there still was back then, a lot of hand finishing on the bodies. The last week I was there I was given a personalized tour of the plant, culminating in the basement of the design studio, where I was able to see iconic 1960s and 1970s show cars, not to mention being able to sit in a few, including the 1974 Ferrari Cr25 and one of the "Dino" iterations.

127 workers will be losing their jobs because of the move.

All images are from the book Pininfarina Cinquantanni Edizioni Pininfarina, given to me while I was there.
 

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Thanks for this post. Truthfully, I've always had a special place in my heart for Bertone - which seemed like the scrappy underdog to Pininfarina's confident, established player. But the number of Italian styling benchmarks produced by Pininfarina is staggering - and many, for me, define the sensuous, sculpted shapes so inherent in desirable Italian automotive products.

Working there must have been amazing.

I was particularly impressed by the way a group of us were treated at their museum (while on the Car Guy tour) and the shear volume of iconic prototypes on display. The staff at Pininfarina could not have been more gracious or generous. Growing up as a young motorhead, absorbing every seductive image in Road & Track of the 70's, and then standing next to the stars of one European car show after another, in the flesh, was surreal.

While the potential for excellent, imaginative design remains, the closing of the factory seems like another milestone in the ever-diminishing prospects for true variety and non-conformity, as the lowest-common-denominator in all things manufacturing gradually becomes universal.
 

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Another one bites the dust. Too bad. Unlike Frank, I just look for good design and appreciate each of them for their contribution to a 'work-of-art-in-motion' as I have coined them. Well, they look great sitting still too and seem to be in motion.
 
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