Ferrari celebrates a lifetime of beautiful design with the Sergio convertible
The all-new Ferrari Sergio celebrates more than 60 years of collaboration between the Prancing Horse and Pininfarina, the Italian design house that has styled the majority of Ferrari's legendary road cars. While not nearly as visually radical as the original Pininfarina Sergio concept presented at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, the 458-based limited-edition Sergio production car has a distinct look and cranked up performance.
Pininfarina and Ferrari: A team-up like no other
"Ferrari and Pinin? It won’t last. It’s like putting two Prima Donna in the same opera," Pininfarina describes the general consensus in the auto world at the time it began collaborating with Ferrari in 1951. It's a picture of skepticism so pointed that it could be termed derision.
Harsh, maybe, but not ungrounded. The pride of the Ferrari patriarch, overseeing his four-year-old road car operation, and that of his counterpart at the two-decade-old coach building and design house of Turin almost ended the relationship before it had begun. Enzo Ferrari invited Battista "Pinin" Farina (he later had his name legally changed to Pininfarina) to Modena for a meeting, and while Farina was interested, he believed Ferrari should make the trip to Turin. They were at an impasse until Farina's son Sergio suggested a compromise: a meeting in the neutral ground between the two Italian cities. Enzo and Battista agreed, and the two hammered out the details of a working agreement in a restaurant in Tortona.
"From now on you’ll be looking after Ferrari, from A to Z," Sergio recalled Battista telling him on the ride home from Tortona, as documented by RM Auctions. "Design, engineering, technology, construction—the lot!"
"I was over the moon with happiness," Sergio recalled.
The relationship first came to life in the form of the Ferrari 212 Inter Cabriolet, chassis 0177E, and the futures of both names were wound together like strands of copper wire. They made history together, again and again, and neither company would be the same today without the other. The partnership far outlasted those dour early predictions, and its six-decade-and-counting run has introduced many of the most desirable cars of all time.
In fact, Pininfarina has designed nearly every Ferrari road car since the 1950s, with a few rare exceptions like the in house-designed LaFerrari. The lion's share of those greats were designed during Sergio Pininfarina's long-running time at the helm of the Ferrari account and the design house at large. Sergio took over as chairman after his father's death in 1966 and served until 2006, when he stepped down and took the title of honorary chairman.
"Ferrari made them fast. Pininfarina made them beautiful," Motor Trend wrote in a retrospective look at Sergio Pininfarina's life and career, after his passing in 2012.
Pininfarina lays the groundwork with edgy Sergio concept
Given Sergio's unparalleled resume of designing the world's most beautiful Ferraris, it's no surprise that Pininfarina immortalized him a year after his death with a special car bearing his first name. The Pininfarina Sergio design team took inspiration from Sergio's grand history, particularly his design work of the 60s and 70s, then whipped it into an edgy, futuristic interpretation of a Ferrari barchetta. The concept caught the world's attention with a variety of wildly sexy elements, including a windshield-less cockpit, sharply angled roll bar, projectile like front end and sunken hood.
Earlier rumors suggested that Pininfarina might build a handful of very slightly redesigned, 458-based Sergio concepts for well-heeled and connected buyers. Instead, it was Ferrari that pursued production of half a dozen thoroughly modified Sergios. On the downside, the design lost much of its unique edge in the journey from design house show car to Maranello-built special edition. On the bright side, it's still pretty damn cool and now packs a little extra performance.
Ferrari presents its Sergio
Last week, the first of six planned Sergios was delivered to its new owner, the SBH Royal Auto Gallery at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. The delivery of the car coincided with the staging of the Finali Mondiali Ferrari races. As is so often the case when a car makes the move from concept to production, the Sergio has lost a lot of its original edginess, though it's still a Pininfarina design through and through. It's gained a windshield, been fitted to more traditional 458 Spider form, and lost many of the dramatic angles and curves of the 2013 show car.
That's not to say that the production Sergio has lost all visual connection to the concept, though. It's a bit less pronounced than on the concept, but there's still a feeling of the rear quarter pushing the front forward, strengthened by the contrast inserts that drop down from the roll bar and underline the sides. The C pillars are angled more sharply forward than on the standard 458 Spider, adding to the feel of the muscular rear powering the car full-steam ahead. The black lower edging leaps the front wheels and blends into the strong front spoiler.
Another element of the production car heavily influenced by the 2013 concept is the swooping, single piece headlight treatment. Both designs have similar wheels, but the custom gold forged wheels on the production car pop even more than those on the concept. Other 2014 Sergio styling points of note include the two-tone hood, restyled rear fascia and Pininfarina-signature circular air vents on the rear deck.
While the Sergio keeps the 458's "technological content as well as all of the functional aspects of its cockpit," it gets a marked engine upgrade to the Speciale A's 597-hp 4.5-liter V8. That means the Pininfarina-based special edition scoots to 62 mph (100 km/h) in a flat three seconds, four-tenths of a second faster than the 562-hp 458 Spider (and Sergio concept car estimate).
Inside, the Sergio cockpit, which was outfitted to the specifications of its buyer by Ferrari's Tailor Made program, is dressed in its Sunday best: a fine three-piece suit of black leather upholstery stitched in red, Alcantara seat inserts, and heaps of carbon fiber trim.
One Sergio down, five to go...
You can compare the Sergio concept car to the Ferrari Sergio special edition in our gallery. In the spirit of the Pininfarina-Ferrari celebration, we've also included photos of some of the greatest Pininfarina-penned production and concept Ferraris from the past 60 years.