TURIN, Italy - Industrie Pininfarina S.p.A. will start production of a Honda roadster by the end of 1999, according to industry sources.
The car, to be sold mainly in Europe, will be derived from the Argento Vivo concept car that Pininfarina unveiled at the Tokyo show in October 1995. Production of 10,000 units a year is planned.
The Argento Vivo show car was based on the Integra platform, but the production car is based on the next generation of the European Accord, with a shortened wheelbase.
The production car will have a steel platform and a steel body, while the concept car was based on a aluminum frame with polished aluminum body panels.
Once the convertible is in production, Pininfarina may build a version with a removable roof panel.
The Argento Vivo concept had a metal roof and back light that retracted into the trunk compartment, transforming it to a roadster. This is the system used by the Mercedes SLK roadster.
The roadster will mark Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s return to sports cars.
During the late 1980s, Honda brought out the NSX, badged as an Acura in the United States, but in recent years it has concentrated on adding minivans and sport-utilities to its range.
The deal marks the first time Honda has contracted production of a special niche model to an outside manufacturer, but it will be Pininfarina's second deal with a Japanese car manufacturer.
Beginning early in 1999, Pininfarina will start building 35,000 units a year of the Mitubishi Pajero Pinin. The new compact sport-utility is aimed at the Toyota RAV4 and Suzuki Vitara in Europe.
Industrie Pininfarina recently bought a factory for the Pajero project. The former seat plant, in Bairo Canavese near Turin, will be converted to complete vehicle production for the Pajero Pinin.
The production site for the Argento Vivo has not been chosen.