Sergio bows at Pininfarina Tribute RallyWed, 05 Jun 2013 00:00:00 -0700
Pininfarina showed its Sergio barchetta concept at an event in the UK last week where the main aim was to set a record for the largest number of Pininfarina cars gathered in a single location.
As Autoweek went to press, the total was nudging towards 200, an early audit of the delectable selection of machinery arranged on the lawns around Hurtwood Park Polo Club suggesting at least 180 cars with more still to report.
“We're hoping to get over the magic 200, but will have to wait and see,” said Gary John on behalf of the organizers, Brokersclub.
Brokersclub pulled together the impromptu collection of Farina cars to launch its Pininfarina Tribute Rally, a five-day Euro tour restricted to cars linked to the Torinese design house.
The Rally sets off in September from London with a field limited to 100 cars and will visit European locations with links to Ferrari and Pininfarina.
Highlights include a run down the twisting Stelvio pass with its 60 switchback hairpins, followed by tours of Maranello and the Pininfarina design HQ in Turin, the whole shebang crowned by hospitality in Monte Carlo, all for an entry fee just under $10,000
According to the Brokersclub, there is already interest from West Coast Ferrari dealers and collectors.
At the launch event, pride of place after the Sergio--built as a tribute to the eponymous Pininfarina scion who passed away last year--went to Eric Clapton's magnificent SP12 EC, a Pininfarina-influenced one-off based, like the Sergio, on the 458 Italia.
Clapton's Ferrari made a rare public appearance thanks to neighborly links with the Polo Club's owner Kenney Jones, also rock 'n' roll royalty.
Jones, a founding member of the Small Faces famous for “Itchycoo Park,” took over as the Who's drummer in 1979 following the death of Keith Moon, and now owns a highly desirable tract of rolling countryside complete with polo fields in Surrey, 40 miles southwest of London where he counts Clapton as his next-door neighbor.
The other automotive stars of the Pininfarina Tribute Rally launch included a rare Enzo, a brace of F40s, a handsome 250 California and a 250 TR59 Testa Rossa racer of 1959 vintage, one of only three in the UK.
“I'm really pleased to support the event today,” said the Testa Rossa's owner Mark Arlidge, who is also lucky enough to own a Jag D-type and Ferrari BB512.
An example of the sleek Berlinetta Boxer also graced Hurtwood's lawns, but the whole point of the event was to gather a variety of Pininfarina-related cars.
So there were also examples from Lancia, Alfa, Fiat, Maserati, Peugeot, Rolls-Royce, Austin and Wolseley that all benefitted from the subtle hand of Farina's Turin design talent.
The Fiat Coupe, with its distinctive Chris Bangle-designed exterior from the mid-'90s, qualified because its interior was designed by Pininfarina and it was built at Pinin's Grugliasco plant.
It is also a little-known fact that a significant number of British Motor Corporation models in the 1960s were designed by Pininfarina, although on a day dominated by exotic machinery, the sensible and be-finned Austin Cambridge and Wolseley 16/60 looked a little out of place.
Considering the significance of the Sergio, also worth noting were a handful of Dino 246GTs, the first Ferrari that Sergio Pininfarina influenced and the pretty “Graduate” Alfa Duetto, the last car designed by his father, company founder, Battista “Pinin” Farina.
Will Pininfarina build the Sergio?
Pininfarina is pressing on with plans to build a limited run of the striking Sergio barchetta shown earlier this year at Geneva.
Speaking at the Sergio's first appearance in the UK, Pininfarina's chief designer Fabio Filippini said that feasibility studies for the minimalistic two-seater suggested a production run “of between three to six cars.”
“We know the design can be homologated in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, so now we are looking for customers, and there is good interest,” he said.
Limited-run cars would be subtly different, however, because the nose will have to be raised 12mm to allow sufficient clearance over the front-crash structure to pass pedestrian protection laws.
'Even that small a change means we will have to completely resurface the car to make sure it retains its elegance,” says Filippini.
Potential U.S. customers will have to accept the Sergio in its original windscreen-less design, says Filippini, and view it as non-road legal because U.S. regs would require a windscreen.
“For many collectors that won't be problem, they might want to drive it at a private race track or just leave it in a collection.”
Pininfarina has explored the feasibility of adding a windscreen, but the changes alter the lines so much that Filippini considers it a brand new design: “It wouldn't be a Sergio any more.”
A price for the Sergio still hasn't been set but it is likely to be between $1,000,000-$2,000,000.
By Julian Rendell