Paolo Pininfarina: A Legacy of Design and Innovation


Paolo Pininfarina, the esteemed Italian designer and chairman of the Pininfarina Group, passed away in Turin at the age of 65. Born on August 28, 1958, he was the third-generation heir to the renowned Italian design house. His grandfather, Battista Farina, founded Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in 1930, making groundbreaking contributions to automotive design worldwide.

Early Life and Education

Paolo Pininfarina graduated from the Polytechnic University of Turin with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1982, he joined his father Sergio Pininfarina at the helm of Pininfarina, where he embarked on a remarkable career journey. To gain hands-on experience, he undertook internships at Cadillac and Honda. Between 1984 and 1986, he served as quality manager for the Cadillac Allante project, followed by a stint as project manager for General Motors’ GM200 from 1987 to 1989. The GM200 platform eventually evolved into the Chevrolet Lumina APV, Oldsmobile Silhouette, and Pontiac Trans Sport, and in a sense, laid the foundation for the Buick GL8.

Design Excellence and Entrepreneurial Spirit

Paolo Pininfarina’s expertise extended beyond automotive design. He became the first manager of Pininfarina Extra S.r.l., a Pininfarina Group subsidiary specializing in non-automotive design, encompassing furniture, appliances, yachts, and architecture. Simultaneously, he held various board positions within the Pininfarina Group, including board member and deputy chairman.

Tragedy and Leadership

In 2006, Paolo’s brother Andrea assumed the role of chairman from their father, Sergio. However, in a devastating turn of events, Andrea passed away in a motorcycle accident in 2008, casting a shadow over the future of Pininfarina. Paolo stepped up to the challenge, taking over as chairman.

During his chairmanship, Paolo Pininfarina spearheaded a groundbreaking collaboration with the Mahindra Group, enabling Pininfarina to independently manufacture automobiles. This achievement fulfilled his grandfather’s dream of establishing a car manufacturing company.

Signature Designs

Two Pininfarina models held particular significance for Paolo. The first was the Pininfarina Sergio concept car, named after his father and based on the Ferrari 458. The second was the Battista, the company’s first-ever independently produced vehicle, an electric hypercar honoring his grandfather, Battista Farina.


Paolo Pininfarina’s passing marks a significant loss in the automotive design world. His legacy is deeply intertwined with Pininfarina’s rich history of innovation, style, and craftsmanship. His contributions to the industry, particularly his role in shaping Pininfarina’s independent manufacturing capabilities, will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of designers.

Additional Points

  • Paolo Pininfarina’s passion for design extended beyond his professional endeavors. He was an avid collector of vintage cars and motorcycles, reflecting his deep appreciation for automotive heritage.
  • Throughout his career, Paolo Pininfarina actively promoted Italian design and manufacturing excellence on the global stage. He was a strong advocate for preserving the unique heritage of Italian craftsmanship while embracing technological advancements.
  • Paolo Pininfarina’s leadership extended beyond business. He served as president of the Italian Automobile Designers Association (ADI) and was a member of the board of directors of the World Design Organization (WDO).


Paolo Pininfarina’s life was a testament to the power of design to shape our world. His visionary leadership, unwavering commitment to excellence, and deep passion for automotive design will continue to inspire and influence the industry for years to come.