LUCA CIFERRI

The other Sergio Pininfarina

Automotive News | July 3, 2012 - 12:01 am EST

TURIN -- Sergio Pininfarina, who has died at the age of 85, was a visionary who created, along with the company that bore his name, some of the most beautiful automotive designs ever seen.

But there was another side to Sergio. He was also a politician who fought tirelessly for his dream of a strong united Europe, long before the European Union was created under its current name in 1993.

Between 1979 and 1988, Sergio served as a member of the European Parliament in Strasbourg where he championed Italy's industrial interests.

In September 2005, he was made a life senator of the Italian republic, an honor given to citizens who make outstanding contributions to the Italian state.

Sergio achieved a great deal in public life, but his later private life was blighted by the untimely death of his son Andrea, Pininfarina's chairman and CEO, in a motorcycle accident in 2008.

In the same year, Sergio was dealt another blow when the Pininfarina family lost control of the business that Sergio's father had established in 1930, as the banks who agreed to bail out the ailing company effectively became its controlling shareholders.

It was an unfortunate end for a man who had dedicated 50 years of his life to the design company that bore his name and he certainly deserved better.

Choosing the best or most significant car designed under his tenure is not an easy task. Sergio always had the last word on design, so I have chosen a largely unknown one-off unit he created for a special client and long-time friend.

The Fiat Multipla Eden Roc II was a beach car Pininfarina created in 2004 for Fiat chairman and controlling shareholder Giovanni Agnelli.

The Fiat Multipla Eden Roc II beach car was a labor of friendship for Sergio Pininfarina.

The car was known as the Eden Roc II because in 1957 Pininfarina had built another beach car, based on that year's Fiat 600 Multipla, for the Agnelli family.

Transforming the quirkily designed six-seat compact minivan into a fun beach car was a titanic challenge. But Sergio and his team managed to achieve a perfect balance between form and function for which his designs were rightly revered.

Ciao, Sergio!

Luca Ciferri is Automotive News Europe's Editor-in-Chief.Luca Ciferri is Automotive News Europe's Editor-in-Chief.

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