Until now I have never really considered myself a petrolhead, however I must admit that since purchasing my 'new' car, I am as they say 'in love'. The car in question? An Alfa Romeo GTV.
One must always ask the question when buying one of these fine automobiles, should I spend my money on something which is deemed so unreliable?
Well needless to say I am now a believer in the phrase, 'to be a bona fide petrolhead at some point you have to own, or have owned an Alfa Romeo'. Why is this? Probably because to buy one of these cars means that you care more about beautiful design and powerful performance than that of reliability. Yes I may have to spend more time at the mechanics than if I had bought a Volkswagen, but look at those lines!
My car is beautiful, to me at least. Stunning lines, beautiful design and it even boasts that all important Pininfarina badge. I am in love.
Pininfarina, if you are not aware, is an Italian design firm and coach builder based in Cambiano Italy. As well as Alfa Romeo, the firm is employed by some of the best loved and well known manufacturers such as Ferrari, Fiat, Peugeot, GM, Lancia and Maserati, as well as emerging companies in the Asian market with Chinese manufactures like AviChina, Chery, Changfeng, Brilliance, and JAC.
Almost seventy years of collaboration between Pininfarina and Alfa Romeo has naturally extended to all the key features of Pininfarina's activities: the construction of one-off specials, advanced styling research, design and the production of special low-volume models.
Alfa Romeo was already a marque with a striking image, one that had come of age and trodden the first of its peaks of fame - a hat trick of outright firsts in the old Mille Miglia - when the stripling Pininfarina was given the chance of adding the supercharged 6C 1750 Gran Sport to its sheaf of prestige creations, along with those for Hispano-Suiza, Isotta Fraschini and Lancia.
The company's partnership with Ferrari started in 1951 with a meeting at a restaurant in Tortona, a neutral territory as neither Pinin Farina or Enzo Ferrari wanted to meet at the other's headquarters.
Pinin’s son, Sergio Pininfarina recalled, “It is not difficult to imagine how I felt that afternoon when my father, without taking his eyes off the road for one moment told me his decision as we drove back to Turin: “From now on you’ll be looking after Ferrari, from A to Z. Design, engineering, technology, construction—the lot!”—I was over the moon with happiness.”
Since that meeting the only road-going production Ferraris not designed by Pininfarina are the 1973 Dino 308 GT4 and 2013's LaFerrari. Their relationship was so close that Pininfarina became a partner of Ferrari in "Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC", the organization that ran Ferrari's race team from 1961–1989. Pinin was a vice president of Ferrari, and Sergio later sat on Ferrari's board of directors.
With a history that dates back to 1930 the company hit its height in 2006 employing 2,768 people with subsidiary company offices throughout Europe, as well as in Morocco and the United States. As of 2012 with the end of series automotive production, employment had unfortunately shrunk to 821.
In April 2008, after three years of serious losses totaling 115 million euros at the end of 2007, Pininfarina made the first of several moves to raise capital and restructure its enormous debt. On December 31, 2008 Pininfarina announced a debt restructuring that would require the family to sell it's stake in the company. The agreement was made after Pininfarina's value dropped 67 per cent during 2008. It had total debts of €598m at the end of November.
Italy's Pininfarina family looked set to lose control of the design company as lengthy debt restructuring talks reached a conclusion. A 16.9 million euros loss in the first nine months of 2011 occurred after closing its manufacturing operations to re-invent itself as a smaller niche design player.
The debt accord will give control of the family's 77 percent stake to its creditor banks, ending the Pininfarina family's ownership. The deal brings an end to a chapter that began in 2008 when the banks swapped 180 million euros in debt in exchange for a promise of proceeds from a future sale of part of the Pininfarina's family stake.
In a statement released on 15 February, the Cambiano-based company, which owes over €100 million to a number of Italian banks, said its debt repayment date has been extended to 2018, from 2015.
Pininfarina is in the black for first time since 2004. According to Reuters, the good news came because of a debt restructuring arranged last year that gives the company three more years to repay its $182.6 million in debt, and a one-time gain of roughly 45 million euros. It is the company's first profit since 2004.
2013 looks to be a brighter time for Pininfarina, with the company designing the exteriors and interiors for a new range of busses for the company Temsa, furniture design with a debut for two new projects at the Milan Furniture Fair - an outdoor chair produced jointly with the Brazilian company 'A Lot Of' and a lamp born from the historic partnership with Riva.
2013 also saw the release of the Pininfarina Sergio Concept Car, named after Sergio Pininfarina who sadly passed away in July 2012, aged 85. Based on a Ferrari 458, the Sergio is very much in the Ferrari tradition, yet a concept none the less. The company used the Geneva Motor Show to unveil this beast, designed and built in Sergio's honor.
One can only hope that this historic and influential design firm's future is back on track after what can only be described as a difficult period. With finances in order and new projects on the horizon, the world has not seen the last of Pininfarina.
And my car? Well she's running like a charm and looking great!