Jump to content

The Italo-American Connection:

Recommended Posts

When the Maharaja of Orchha desired bespoke bodywork for his new Cadillac V-16 chassis, he did what most fashion-conscious royal family members do: He went shopping in Europe.

It was 1931, and France was in its heyday as the provider of haute couture bodywork for the bare running chassis one could purchase from the likes of Duesenberg, Bugatti, and yes, Cadillac. But instead of sampling the goods at Figoni et Falaschi or Franay, the Maharaja chose to engage the talents of a young Italian designer/coachbuilder named Battista Farina.

Carrozzeria Farina was founded just a year earlier, but already, Farina's talents were being spoken of in glowing terms. The one-off Cadillac he created and built for the Maharaja was elegant and of good proportion. It had the appearance of a coupe, with racy, cut-down front doors, a low windscreen, and boat-inspired tail, although it had four doors and room for as many.

Farina was a handsome, compact, intense gentleman, and his nickname was "Pinin." But it wasn't until 1960 that his nickname and last name were blended to become his legal family name and also the official moniker of the company we now know as Pininfarina. Today, the Turin-based automotive and industrial design giant boasts a global client list. For example, Pininfarina is the designer of every Ferrari and Maserati model currently in production.

It's not uncommon for American (and other) car companies to consult with or engage the services of outside design consultants in order to augment the efforts of their in-house styling teams. These tend to be short-term contracts for a single car, or at most a few. In some cases, the ideas and sketches remain that and are never built. But Cadillac and Pininfarina have engaged each other numerous times over the last 50 years -- unique as these partnerships go.

It's believed GM's first chief designer, Harley Earl, and Battista Farina met in 1934, when Earl was traveling around Europe in a LaSalle, a lower cost, sportier companion brand to Cadillac. The two companies didn't begin conceiving and building cars until the 1950s. Several were concept cars; those shiny, turntable dream machines you see at the auto shows, which are often used to gain press and public reaction to possible future design ideas. A few others were limited production models.

Battista died in 1966, although his son, Sergio Pininfarina had taken the reins of the company some years prior and is still very much involved today. Sergio and then Cadillac general manager John Smith most recently continued the connection with the Allante roadster, on the market from 1987 through the 1993 model year. Will this most American carmaker and the deeply Italian design house collaborate again in the future? Considering that Cadillac is again becoming competitive as a luxury automotive brand, and Pininfarina is as capable as it's ever been, the results could be compelling. Here's a look at several of their previous efforts.

Article Continues: http://www.motortrend.com/features/consume...tion/index.html

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cadillac should be listening the next gen is due in a few years... I think they could do wonders as the previous poster mentioned it would for sure look amazing. I recall seeing my first Alante back in the summer of 87 when we were building are house. My father and I were riding in his first Deville and we each about sh*t a brick. He said son stay in school. Well I had graduated over 7 years ago but he made his point.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Motor Trend piece needs some clarification:

>>"The two companies didn't begin conceiving and building cars until the 1950s. Several were concept cars; those shiny, turntable dream machines you see at the auto shows, which are often used to gain press and public reaction to possible future design ideas. A few others were limited production models."<<

I would consider the above to be accurate if 'the 2 companies began conceiving & building' was defined as : Cadillac built the chassis's and/or the complete car, and Pinninfarina bought them and customized them on their own. There is no verification that Cadillac commissioned ANY of the following cars (indeed many 'students' of Cadillac find it highly doubtful):

the 1954 Cabriolet Speciale,

the 1958 Cabriolet Four-Posti,

the 1959 Coupe Four-Posti,

the 1959 Starlight Coupe and

the 1961 Brougham Coupe "Jacqueline".

In addition, I do not believe any of these were ever shown in the U.S.- they are known to have been shown in Geneva & Paris, tho.

The only verified 1950s project between Cadillac & Pinninfarina was the production '59-60 Eldorado Broughams (200 designed & built in Italy by PF).

In today's light- it may seem logical to assume that Cadillac looked to Pinninfarina for 'help' in improving their designs.... but the fact of the matter is- PF did not improve on Cadillac's RPO designs in any of these one-offs. They did not receive widespread acclaim when new, they did not create any demand here in the U.S., none of the stylistic features were ever incorporated and they were not considered for production. PF was one in a chain of private & professional customizers/coachbuilders that tried to hook their wagons to Cadillac's star in the '50s.... but ultimately failed.

Under the '61 Jacqueline, it states: "...as is typical of Pininfarina, the roof pillars are thin to create a feeling of openness."

Not mentioned is the fact that GM introduced a very thin pillared greenhouse for MY59.

Under the '54 Cabriolet Speciale, it states: "In 1954, most American cars were large and relatively upright. This special bodied roadster is low and relatively unadorned by comparison."

True... except in comparison to the concept '53 Cadillac LeMans, which was MUCH sleeker and MUCH lower than the PF design.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd like to see Pininfarina's take on the A&S theme. They could do wonders for the XLR.

I think that'd be a great idea, as long as Cadillac still wants to have halo cars besides the V-Series!

Link to post
Share on other sites

INdeed as Balthy said Pininfarina did NOT introduce/invent the

bubble-top hardtop and certainly does not do anything to

promote or reintroduce it. Every single Ferrari ever made has

either had no roof, an ugly canvas drophead and/or B-pillars.

I'm not sure what disgusts me more... the complete, blatant &

shocking exclusion of the "Tiger Hunt" V16 Cadillac story if not

photos or the comparison of a 452 cu. in. OHV V16 powered

Cadillac boattail speedster 4dr to the piece of garbage, 1980s

ubber-tacky, FWD, Alante!

The Alante is one of the most over rated GM cars ever. I'd

gladly crush every single Alante ever made to save just ONE

1960s Cadillac hardtop.... and even possibly some cheesy

'70s ratttle-can special like my Banana.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Eh- there's nothing wrong with an Allante; it's certainly not 'uber-tacky' and it did bring more street cred to Cadillac. Also, no where is there a ' '60s hardtop vs. Allante' scenario requiring anyone to chose while the loser gets crushed. The Allante is what it is... and when it is.

I also missed any direct comparison between a V-16 and the Allante- this was just a historical listing of cars built using Cadillac chassis's by a massively-overrated coachbuilder.

Link to post
Share on other sites

True, no direct comparison is made, but I'm commenting on the article's general stance of:

"lookit at what great fore-wheeled beau-tee the Itah-luns made on this big cumbersome American frame"

Different strokes for different folks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"...lookit at what great fore-wheeled beau-tee the Itah-luns made on this big cumbersome American frame"<<

Oh yea- I do agree with you there! Of course; such a viewpoint in a modern mainstream rag is completely & depressingly typical.

Nevermind the reality that these cars were not then and are not now highly coveted, but primarily viewed as oddball stepchilds, with values accordingly. Frankly, they're ugly bastardizations; Cadillac's --and I used that wording of ownership as loosely as possible-- Banglization.

Edited by balthazar
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets


  • Create New...