Fiat buys Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep  

        June 10th 2009:


 Thank You Aurelio Lampredi who was responsible for Fiat being able to buy Chrysler/Jeep with out any cash investment. Yes, the subsequent small motors of Fiat were born of the Lampredi in line 4 were so well engineered by 2009 the americans had a long way to go to catch up.

  A little history on Lampredi is in order, as he started his career at Vespa scooters then to Reggiane Aircraft just before WW-Two. Enzo Ferrari tempted him away at 30 years of age in 1947 for Scuderia Ferrari and in 1951 Aurelio readied Ferrari's first 2-liter four. (Remember in Italy there traditionally is a tax on motors over 2 liters that began after WW-2.) This 1st Lampredi four would go on to dominate the '52/'53 Grand Prix as F2 race wins (small motors) would count tword the championship. Thus began the Ferrari dynasty with a larger 2.5 Lampredi motor going into the Ferrari 250MM the Tipo 555 and the 750Monza. Lampredi left Ferrari in '55 after Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby raced (and won 2nd) in a Lampredi six at Sebring. But there was trouble as Ferrari bought Lancia's race team and engineer Vittorio Jano and Aurelio clashed, so late in 1955 Lampredi left and joined Fiat.

  Interestingly Jano was the main designer for the V6 motor for the Ferrari 206GT Dino..but Ferrari need to make 500 production copies  (this is called homologation) to compete in the F2 so he had to go to Fiat to help with making so many... and guess who had to help Fiat with Enzo Ferrari's task...    Aurelio Lampredi had to help his old rival Jano refine the now famous Dino v6 so it could be mass produced.  But the motor that powered most of Fiat success was the "Lampredi Twin Cam" motor. Aurelio Lampredi was the manager of Fiat famous Abarth racing group until 1982. You might remember an old Fiat ad with Lampredi standing scholarly in front of some Fiats with the caption "Engines don't drink, They breathe." The motor that powered the Azzurra might be one of the most important motors in the world.

 Small motors with racing pedigree:

It would have cost Chrysler a billion dollars, per new design -money they did not have - to engineer the small motors for cars needed to compete. The recession of '09 meant the brand needed superior small, cheap cars to survive. Fiat offered tried and true small motors - As motors over 2 liters had long been taxed in Italy - ready to drop into the small cars buyers demanded. But Fiat offered NO CASH.. just the better engineered small displacement motors for Dodge/Chrysler to use... now!

  A merger was made that shocked the american auto industry. Fiat was a name the american public had not heard of since 1982. How did this name - almost forgotten by the American public - buy the 95 year old Dodge/Chrysler company in 2009? (besides borrowing 6 billion from the US tax payers?) They paid back the US government on may 24th 2011... in full... with interest... because they had superior small motors born -in part- from the Lampredi designs of 40+ years earlier. 

The Aluminum alloy pent-roofed combustion chambers that Lampredi designed for the "do it right or die" aviation industry in the early 1950's can still be seen in the designs of the Alfa Romero and Fiats of today.  Saving precious fuel yet propelling small light cars to thrill drivers for years to come, Lampredi was an automotive hero. From the winning Ferrari 4 cylinder race cars of the 50's, (not to exclude his famous large 12 cylinder engine that helped Ferrari win - decisively ) to the Ferrari Dino motor he helped improve for homologation while at Fiat, and the famous Lampredi DOHC i4 that went into the most successful car Fiat ever made. The longest production 4 banger motor in History  with a 32 year run... all born from the brilliant mind of Aurelio Lampredi. It's a fact that Italy had long taxed any motors over 2 liters, Lampredi had to stay inside these boundries. I dare say.. this ground work laid out by Aurelio's brilliant engineering mind, helped Fiat buy America's 3rd largest automobile manufacture - with no money - because Fiat was that far out ahead of the American company. A shocking truth for the Americans. 

 This is the history you get when you own a Pininfarina designed Spyder!

--I've been told the history of the Farina family goes back to the middle ages.......

....... hammering out metal for suits of armor. In fact hammering out metal armourments is a way to impress and strike awe in your opponent.   Picture the classic Roman warrior in full regalia headed in your direction.. yikes!  Yes fashioning metal can create real emotion. 

In the 3 decades following World War 2 many small shops across northern Italy bent metal into artistic shapes that were meant to impress. Italian style was a way of life. Sadly that way of life is all but gone now. But the most famous of those was:
   Battista Farina was born in 1893. The last of 11 kids his mother called him "Pinin" in piedmont dialect that meant "little one".​
In 1906 Battista started working with his brothers in the family car body shop known as Stabilimenti Farina Co. He excelled and ended going to work for the Agnelli family (who owned Fiat) while he was still in his teens!​
With some financial help from Lancia he opened the "Societa Anomina Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in Turin" in early 1930. They began doing custom work for Lancia and Hispano and Alfa Romeo.
    Battista was one of the first to use rounded shapes and slant the windshield "because it increases the idea of movement" His slanted grill was revolutionary and made him a design star, world wide. He was into aerodynamic research early on and created the Lancia Aprilia coupe - the prototype looking like it came from a 30's science fiction prop.                                                        (see photo--->)​
This Lancia proved to be faster in part because the wind resistance had been lessened.... and the world of "auto aesthetics" never looked back.
​Pininfarina made mostly prototypes in the 40's but moved into serial production by the 50's (Bigger factory more employees). The 50's were boom years as the cars Pininfarina made were instant classics. Pininfarina - then and now - were leaders in the art of moving sclupture.
In some ways a car design is like a hit song A) it's timeless and is still good generations later ​B) can make the person who penned the car famous. I think cars and good songs are the same... they start as doodles and yet with some development can really make someone quite famous.

   Pinins first "big hit" was the Cistalia 202 coupe (photo on right) It was revolutionary, elegant, harmonious, and easy to manufacture. It changed the industry. It made men look "modern".
His work for Alfa Romeo ( the race team to beat in the day) and Lancia brought him to the attention of Enzo Ferrari in the early 50's. His Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider had made a big splash, even today, a much sought after car. Battista had a strong sense of balance and harmony in design, he believed in the simplicity of the design and had the knack for knowing when to stop... don't over work the design. (I could say the same about hit songs too... ask Hank Williams, or Tom Petty)​


His biggest hits came from working with Enzo Ferrari during the time they dominated the racetracks of europe. The Ferrari 250GT being one example that carved his name in stone as a metal bending sculptor superstar. His son Sergio was 30 years old in 1956 and was an integral to the company. He was given the honor of working with Ferrari at a young age and rose to the challenge in a big way. Few others were as close to Enzo Ferrari.​
In 1961 Battista was traveling the world, now an ambassador of italian culture and all things great about italian industrial design in the post war world. The President of Italy ratified the Farina family surname to Pininfarina as an honor to Battista and his success. So before 1961 it's Sergio Farina..... after that it was Sergio Pininfarina. And the company and family surname is spelled as one word ever since.
​   Sadly Battista died in 1966 (the year the Fiat spider first came out) and Sergio Pininfarina started his own dynasty now as director of his fathers company. He was quite the hit-maker himself. ​(read more below)

The Alfa Romero Giulietta
             ( 1954-1965 )
Pininfarina sculpted. Romeo oh Romeo where art thou. Fun cars. These Spiders are priced 10 years ago about where Pinin Spiders are today.

The Volumex or VX: Lancia and Pininfarina were long time pals and this is a limited production Spider done in co-operation with Lancia.
A bit of a hot rod that never made it to the states.​

 Pininfarina, The Company:

In the 30's they changed the way everyone viewed cars. ​(800 cars made in '39) No longer a child of the box- like horse and buggy carriages, now thanks to Mr. Farina 1930's cars had curves. In the 40's (with Italy in the thick of WW-II for most of the decade) they made prototypes in small numbers. But the 50's came and they stepped into more serial production as well as inspired prototyping. By '59 they had 1000 employees all told and 35,000 sq feet of space. (and made 5,700 cars) By '69 with 16,000 employees, they had 5 times more production space. (they made 17,200 cars in 1969)

By 1982.. the year they decided to make a car badged only by themselves as well as producing  over 25,000 units with their own Spiders, Ferraris, Lancias and Alfa's.  Today- without Sergio- they are a smaller company in the design capital of the world; Turin Italy. They design everything from Pens to Stadiums, stepping back a bit from production.  For example, look up the Keating Hotel in San Diego.. A Pininfarina designed Hotel!     Paolo Pininfarina is now at the helm and stands proudly in the Pininfarina Museum that houses Ferrari's iconic multi-million dollar legends. The 250GT- Everyones dream car The 275GTB, The Lancia Aurelia, the breath taking list goes on and on. But what car sits between the Ferrari 512 bbi and the 3 million dollar Ferrari Sergio-Pininfarina prototype? A car that Battista's grandson Paolo said was his favorite car in the Milan museum. A little black - square badged - Pininfarina Spider Europa. Humble yet timeless.  For many of us it's this simple design - not overly done, with no attempt at modernism - still stands for what a classic car is.  Aspirational, yet affordable, the most popular car Pininfarina ever penned. The Pinin Spider.

I just read that Pininfarina might merge with a company from India; Mahindra. Very interesting. Lets hope the new partners love Pininfarinas history of understated design and keep it making high end cars for us to enjoy. Lets hope bankers stay out of the way (yea right)...... one can only hope.

The Nash-Healey was one of the first American cars marketed with the designer as top billing. Battista arrived in New York to an excited American press doing what they did best. Press. He was reported to be a bit overwhelmed with the attention he got. He was  now a huge auto design rock star.               --------------------------->

Tom Tjaarda an American in Italy....... Spider Designer has passed away June 4th 2017

Tom was born Stevens Thompson Tjaarda Van Starkenberg, in Detroit. Tom's father - Joop Tjaarda- was an auto designer who might be best known for his 1935 Lincoln Zephyr, its an amazing car to see in person still striking today, very Gotham City in it's sweeping deco lines.

  Tom's a bit of a hero for me as he was an American who went to Italy, and made a big name for himself in Turin, the design capital of the world. Auto design is like any great art,  it starts with a doodle really,  that ends up being seen by millions.
Industrial Design at it's base can make peoples lives better.
  Tom studied architecture in school but showed promise in automotive design so his college teacher introduced him to the design house Ghia. Tom's career really started with Ghia in 1958 when he was still in his teens, the "Innocenti 950" his first project. He then went to work with Pininfarina in 1961 (about the time it became one word) At that time Battista was still there, as well the son Sergio Pininfarina, and dad was letting Sergio start to take over. One of Tom's first projects was the Ferrari 330GT 2+2.  A hit record of sorts.... an elegant beauty. (He left Pininfarina in 1965)
   Tom penned a car as a pitch to Chevrolet for a new Corvette design in 1963. It was one of his most memorable designs. The one off prototype was called the Chevy Rondine and although GM did not pick his idea for the C2 Corvette, it was an inspiration for the house of Pininfarina on a few cars. Our little Spider being one of the biggest sellers.
Look up the Rondine. It's beautiful. It was brought home after the 1963 Paris Auto show and stayed in the Pininfarina Collection for 45 years seeing little light of day. It was sold at a Barrett-Jackson Auction for $1.6 Million dollars in 2008. The Rondine is now an icon of design.

  Fiat, and Sergio liked Tom's Rondine - a lot - and wanted Tom to make a new Spider for them that looked just like it. (since GM picked another design for the C2 Corvette) However the Rondine had a much longer wheelbase and the long nose that extended over the wheels did not really work out on a short wheelbase car that Fiat was planning. Cars with over 2.0 motors were heavily taxed in Italy so Fiat needed of a smaller gas saving sports car.
  Young Tjaarda  penned the shorter wheelbase Spider with the idea and spirit of his Rondine... not an exact copy. The beautiful backside of the Spider is very much like his original Rondine.... His Spider had a 19 year run. Beat that.


Tom has had a remarkable career - deTomso, Bugatti, Lotus, Ferrari and even was Director of Advanced Design Studios for Fiat from 1978 thru the end of 1981... (about the time Pininfarina took over the Sport Spider.) His own design house started in 1984  His design house has a web site:

www.tom-tjaarda.net

Tom had written an insightful column for "Classic and Sports Car Magazine" a great UK publication. He had also been very kind to me over the last two years. I will miss his knowledge and willingness to talk cars.
   It's certain he will be listed as one of the great designers of our time. Tom had sent me this drawing of a proposal for the new 124 Spider that he offered to Fiat in 2015. It's never been published before. Note that now famous rear end with the striking blend of angles and curves. We will all miss you Tom.

A little history of Tom Tjaarda, Pininfarina and Aurelio Lampredi

Automobile History on how Pinin Farina became Pininfarina. ​(or... why my dads nick name became
​my families "surname")

Tjaarda proposa per "new" 124 Spyder of 2017

Again.... The Lampredi Dual cam. Grandfather of modern Italian legands that Chrysler needed more than cash!   Yes... the motor is good as gold.

Pininfarina Factory shot. Making spyders for Ferrari and Fiat

Sergio's factory making Sergio's Spiders

Why is it called a Spider?

Coach builders in the  turn of the century in Ireland made a small 2 seat one horse carriage with BIG wheels. The wheels came up so tall they looked like spiders legs.

Thus the nick name that refered to small 2 seat, big wheel, open carriages ever since. I've always thought it funny that the Fiat had 4 seats.. yet was called a Spider. The Pininfarina had only two seats (a true spider) yet was called Azzurra.

(spyder or spider? the "y" is of german origin)

So what does Battista Pinin Farina drive?
The Lancia Flaminia  (aka Florida II) was his main ride. The Flaminia came out in 1957. Lancia was know to name cars after Italian roads.
​The Via Flaminia was the road to ancient rome.
(see above / below)

Sergio Pinifarina was born in 1926  and led Pininfarina for 40 years. He died in July , 2012 just a few weeks after Carrol Shelby died. He (and his team) conceived some of the worlds greatest car legends. Like the '65 206 Dino, the '66 Alpfa Spider Duetto (right), the '84 Testarossa, (think Magnum P.I. ) the '02 Ferrari "Enzo" Supercar and the stunning '09 Ferrari  458 Italia. Like his dad, he was a rock star. The Italian Government elected him "Senator for life" and was indeed in office until his death.

Under his leadership Pininfarina S.p.A. became a real industrial power house. Maybe not compared to other auto giants  but having a run totaling (150,000) Alfa Duettos and (200,000) 124 Sports Spiders wasn't bad. The list of things Sergio set in motion in  the year of his fathers death is rather amazing. He moved his design studio's across the street giving the study and research department it own space away from the production/ assembly lines. Also the '66 launch of the serially produced Alfa and Fiat spiders was to great fanfare. The game changer was that he started the plans to build a wind tunnel that year as well, although it was not operational until 1972.   Suddenly better drag co-efficiency was decisively influencing car design. Sergio took the legend of his father and made it into a world player. Pininfarina design houses had also designed sunglasses, high speed train, buses, light rail cars and even yatchs. (it seems they were quite proud of their luxury yatch the beautiful "Azzurra" as it was what they named our little car after.)  But sexy sports cars is what they will go down in history for. The 50's and 60's Ferrari's by Pininfarina are the worlds most sought after cars, ever. Almost all the top sales records are held by the legendary design house.  The period of Battista Pinin Farina and his son Sergio Pininfarina represent a classical time period in auto and industrial design. The Spider - a 1965 designed car that was still available up to 1985 - was very much a major player of this "classical" time. Like a great song by the Beatles even your grandkids will think it's cool.... many years from now.