It is a common truism about family businesses: the first generation creates the family fortune, the second consolidates it, and the third dissipates it. That is true for two leading carrozzerie Italiana, Bertone and Pininfarina, although the most important personalities of each house were of different generations: Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone (1914-1997) was a consolidator, and Battista “Pinin” Farina (1893-1966) was a founder.
Both built gorgeous bodies on prestige chassis, and both designed stylish bodies produced in the hundreds of thousands by major manufacturers – Bertone for Citron and Mazda, Pininfarina for Peugeot and the British Motor Corporation, among dozens of others. Bertone shaped the best Lamborghinis, Pininfarina the best Ferraris. Both employed wonderfully talented stylists/designers, but Bertone celebrated their names, while Pininfarina preferred to attribute everything to its CEO.
Both created extreme show-car designs – Bertone the B.A.T. series and the Lancia Stratos, Pininfarina the Ferrari Modulo and Maserati Birdcage 75th – but extreme Bertone designs were produced in small series, whereas Pininfarina’s were auto-show only. Yet Bertone’s single production Ferrari, the 308GT4, was quite sober and restrained compared with Pininfarina’s “Magnum” two-seater sharing its mechanical package. Great houses, great designs. Pity both are moribund today. Sic transit gloria mundi.