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How Ferrari Coulda Had Four Before: The Pinin Four-Door Sees The Bidding Floor In London

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On: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 4:45PM | By: Andrew W Davis


How Ferrari Coulda Had Four Before: The Pinin Four-Door Sees The Bidding Floor In London

OK, so maybe you already own a bachelor pad and therefore find the second-home-sized Ferrari tour bus I just covered more-than-a-little too large for your lifestyle.

Fear not, gentle reader, for there’s another one-of-one custom Ferrari that has a liaison-sized interior going up for auction at RM’s London sale, and this one isn’t the size of a wingless jumbo jet.

Yes, before Porsche had even thought of the Panamera, before Aston-Martin succumbed to Rapide fever and long before Lamborghini even entertained the Estoque, there was a top-shelf exotic car maker that toyed with the idea of adding another set of doors aft of the two God intended be there: Ferrari.

Sort of.

See, the way this usually works is this: Famous design house wants money from famous Italian car company, design house builds a one-off based on that carmaker’s underpinnings, the car company swoons and sends cash the design house’s way, either for producing the car or just for the initial idea.

Or not, as was the case with Lot 296, the 1980 Ferrari “Pinin Prototipo.”

“The 1980 Turin Motor Show marked the 50th anniversary of Pininfarina, and rumours abounded that the celebrated company was going to unveil a unique concept car for Ferrari. To great fanfare the first ever four-door Ferrari was duly unveiled. Sergio Pininfarina, now head of the legendary design firm, named the car in honour of his father and founder of the company, Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina.

“Though the Pinin concept certainly appeared extremely advanced for the early ’80s, much of the technology was only a conceptualisation of what may have been. Sadly, the Pinin was never to make it into production. FIAT, Ferrari’s parent company, was busy developing smaller cars, such as the Uno, and wasn’t about to spend its precious resources on the first four-door Ferrari. The concept was featured at a number of shows, including the 1980 Los Angeles Auto Show and Carrozzeria Italiana in Pasadena in 1981, however, the Pinin would remain a static show car.”

And I know what you’re wondering. Aside from the four-door body style, what set this Prototipo apart? Well…

“Aside from the four-door body style, one of the most notable features of the car was the very low height of the hood. Strikingly, the windows were tinted and mounted flush to hide the A- and B-pillars, giving the impression of a single piece of glass wrapping all the way around from C-pillar to C-pillar. Other unique features of this concept car included ‘multi-parabolic’ lights. Designed in conjunction with Lucas, they were incorporated into the body and utilised three lenses, with the middle one the same colour as the bodywork. The windscreen wipers retracted under a panel to help with streamlining, and the five-spoke wheels were angled like the blades of a turbine.”

And the… “Interior appointments were given a high priority; special tan Connolly leather wraps most surfaces, and onboard computerisation controls all the passenger comfort features. Along with the extra legroom, afforded by the Pinin’s lengthened wheelbase, the rear-seated passengers also have their own controls as well as a second radio to be used with headphones (much like modern passenger cars).”

What happened next is slightly complicated, so here’s RM’s description of what followed in its entirety:

“The Pininfarina design slowly faded from memory until years later, when it was sold to Jacques Swaters, the famed head of the successful Ecurie Francorchamps Belgian racing team and close friend of Enzo Ferrari. In 2005, Mr. Swaters showed the Pinin at the Essen Motor Show, which was notably part of Pininfarina’s 75th anniversary celebration. In 2008, Mr. Swaters sold the Pinin to its current owner at RM’s Ferrari – Leggenda e Passione auction. He wanted to do more with the car rather than keep it as an object to display and wanted to realise its running and driving potential. The Pinin was taken to Oral Engineering to carry out the task of not only making it a functional driver but one with proper Ferrari running gear.

“Mauro Forghieri, a former Ferrari Technical Director, headed up the project at Oral Engineering. It was noted that the front bulkhead was basically a stretched 400GT, while the engine bay was adapted from the 512BB’s rear sub-frame. A 400GT gearbox was made to fit a newly sourced 512 engine that was placed further forward in the engine bay. Apart from mating the engine to a gearbox, there was still a lot of work in order to make the Pinin a drivable Ferrari. The underlying chassis was strengthened, a fuel tank was fabricated along with a new radiator, an entire wiring loom was manufactured, and finally the Pinin received new suspension and brakes.

“In March 2010, the Pinin was driven for the first time down a disused airport runway near Modena, Italy. The fully functional four-door Ferrari had finally come to fruition. After 30 years, the meticulously preserved Pinin is a credit to its namesake and his company. It is accompanied in the sale by a truly impressive and irreplaceable history file. As the only four-door Ferrari, the Pinin is a unique, forward-thinking design statement that embodies the longstanding relationship between one of the world’s finest sports car builders and its preferred coachbuilder and designer.”

So there you have it, the Pinin’s long and slightly-winding trail from 1980 show car to Lot 296 at RM’s London auction. But if you want a few bullet points in summation before you pull the trigger and bid big—RM’s auction estimate range in US Dollars (as of Oct.24th) is $759,411 to $870,159—here they are:

• The one and only four-door Ferrari ever built
• Powered by a fully running five-litre Ferrari V-12 engine
• A unique and now functional homage to Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina

What more do you need to know?


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