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The Emergence of an Italian Style...

March 16 2012 at 7:59 PM

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" The Emergence of an Italian Style " @ the Petersen Automotive Museum


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The Italian emphasis on well-designed vehicles began during the days of the Roman chariots and continued unabated into the age of the automobile. By the early 1920s, a distinctively Italian type of automobile body began to emerge that was characterized by simplicity and unpretentious elegance.


As the popularity of automobiles rose during the early twentieth century, a large number of horse-drawn carriage makers began to apply their talents to the construction of self-propelled vehicles. Many early coachbuilders found it difficult to adapt and were forced out of business. Those that survived (and many that entered the business later) often created vehicles that embodied unusual or extreme styling themes that pushed the styling envelope and offered a counterpoint to the work of better known firms such as Ghia, Vignale, Bertone, and Pinin Farina. Even today, many less well known coach builders do not create entire bodies from scratch, specializing instead in converting ordinary sedans into convertibles and limousines or armored vehicles for diplomatic and personal use in hostile areas.


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1932 Lancia Dilambda Tourer by Viotti (Collection of Tim and Janet Walker)


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The Lancia Dilambda was designed to be a more luxurious version of the advanced Lambda, which featured a moncoque body, independent suspension, and a narrow angle V-4 engine. Introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1929, the Dilambda rode on a traditional chassis that gave coachbuilders more creative freedom than the monocoque design of the Lambda. It was powered by a compact V-8 engine that was so narrow it required only one head for both banks of cylinders. This Tourer was specially ordered by a wealthy Italian businessman in 1931 and is the only Dilambda with coachwork by Viotti. The current owner restored the car and unveiled it at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours dElegance where it was awarded prestigious Best in Class honors.

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-MW


 
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1959 Ferrari Superamerica by Pinin Farina

March 18 2012, 2:51 PM 

1959 Ferrari Superamerica by Pinin Farina

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Famous for his luxurious grand touring cars and world renowned racecars, Enzo Ferrari appreciated the advantages of working with coachbuilders to create special vehicles that would make a statement in the press and at auto shows. Such collaborations yielded a variety of stylish vehicles that embodied then-current styling trends such as fins, wrap-around windshields, and jet-like exhaust pods. Bold and aggressive, Pinin Farinas one-of-a-kind coachwork on the ultra-high performance 400 Superamerica was undoubtedly appreciated by the cars original owner, Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli, for its intimidating looks and unmistakable presence.

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-MW


 
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1971 Maserati Quattroporte by Frua

March 19 2012, 1:34 AM 

1971 Maserati Quattroporte by Frua (Collection of the Riverside International Automotive Museum)


Originally owned by King Juan Carlos of Spain
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Intended as a possible replacement for Maseratis first production four-door (quattroporte in Italian) sedan, this Frua version debuted during the 1970 show season and embodied the crisp, angular styling that had come to characterize Italian design of the day. It attracted a great deal of favorable reaction and during the Maseratis European auto show tour, Prince Karim Aga Khan saw it and commissioned a second one to be built especially for him. After its European tour, this Maserati was sold to King Juan Carlos of Spain who drove it frequently. Disappointingly, Fruas design for the new large sedan was rejected in favor of another design after Maserati merged with Citroen. An unusual feature of both Frua cars was that all ten of their power-operated side windows (five on each side) can be opened individually depending on the occupants need for ventilation.

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-MW


 
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'by Pinin Farina'

March 20 2012, 10:00 PM 

1991 Cadillac Allante by Pininfarina

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(Collection of Dick Messer)

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With its Italian styled body and American running gear, the Allante was an attempt by Cadillac to enter the luxury sports car market then dominated by established brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. Endeavoring to give the car a sophisticated European look, Cadillac contracted with the famed Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina to design and build the Allante body. Once complete, the bodies were shipped from Italy in specially equipped Boeing 747s to Cadillacs plant in Detroit for final assembly. This long-distance collaboration made the cars too expensive to sell in profitable quantities although many experts blamed the poor sales on its front-wheel drive configuration, a rarity among luxury sports cars.

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-MW

 
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ED-209
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I remember the Allante

March 21 2012, 6:27 PM 

And worse the Cimmaron.... But I'm glad to see that Cadillac reliability has tremendously improved since the 80's.

Cool pics, thanks for sharing.

Regards,
ED-209

 
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Cisitalia 202 Coupe by Pinin Farina

March 25 2012, 11:39 AM 

1947 Cisitalia 202 Coupe by Pinin Farina. (The Margie and Robert E. Petersen Collection)

Consorzio Industriale Sportiva Italia (Cisitalia) was one of many small Italian firms that built specialty sports cars using Fiat components during the immediate postwar period. After first building successful one-seat racing cars, the firm introduced the road-going 202, a Pinin Farina-designed grand touring fastback powered by a modified 1100cc Fiat four-cylinder engine. Considered one of the most attractive cars ever built because of its taut lines and graceful proportions, a 202 Coupe was featured in the 1951 New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) show entitled 8 Automobiles, an exhibition that helped establish automobile coachwork as a legitimate art form akin to sculpture.

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-MW

 
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Nash Healey by Pinin Farina

March 25 2012, 11:49 AM 


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1953 Nash Healey by Pinin Farina (Collection of the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation, Gift of Ray Scherr)

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In 1951 Nash motor company collaborated with British engineer Donald Healey to produce the Nash Healey, an Anglo-American hybrid that used the chassis of the Healey Silverstone sports car and the six-cylinder engine of the Nash. A mere 104 British-bodied Nash-Healey roadsters were built before a chance meeting between Charles Nash and Battista Pinin Farina aboard an ocean liner led to a collaboration that would impact the styling of the entire Nash lineup. Introduced in 1952, the new Pinin Farina designed Nash-Healey combined recognizable styling elements of full-size Nash vehicles with the fleet silhouette popularized by the Italian school.

-MW



 
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