Great designers: Leonardo Fioravanti

Leonardo Fioravanti was born in 1938, and is the author of some of the most beautiful, important and innovative cars and concept cars in history. He studied aerodynamics and body design in Milan, and joined Pininfarina at the age of 26 in 1964. He worked for the Cambiano-based company for 24 years, during which time he and his team designed some of the most beautiful Ferraris in history. At Pininfarina he became head of the R&D department, then design director at Ferrari, then design director at Alfa Romeo.

He later founded his own design company, Fioravanti Srl, in 1991.

Proof of the recognition he has always had in the coachbuilders industry is that in 2009 he was appointed Director of ANFIA Coachbuilders Group.

Great designers: Leonardo Fioravanti

Fioravanti's designs have always been characterized by an almost minimalist cleanliness, innovative design details, elegant shapes, fluid and dynamic, suggesting movement and speed. Don't look for gratuitous aggressiveness or extravagant shapes in his designs... Can you tell he's one of my favourite designers?

I've been lucky enough to see some of his prototypes live. It's not easy, because as I said, he's not a very mediatic designer, and I've always been surprised by their elegance and perfect proportions... If it wasn't for my wife's ultimatums, I'd still be taking pictures of them!

I would like to add that the design of a car (or any complex object) is more often than not a team effort, so in reality there are many people who contribute ideas and good taste to a design, and the designs attributed to Fioravanti are no exception. Where I have had information, I mention the people who worked with Fioravanti on the projects, and I am very sorry to forget all those who undoubtedly contributed to the design of these masterpieces, and who have not received the recognition they deserve.

The most representative Fioravanti's designs

  • BMC 1800 Pininfarina Concept (1967, left): This highly advanced prototype developed for British Motor Corporation (Rover and Austin) was discarded by Rover, who considered it too futuristic. However, it is clear that it inspired a multitude of later models, some of them quite blatantly... It is considered one of the most copied designs in history.
  • BMC 1100 Pininfarina Concept (1968, right): The following year a more compact version was presented for an Austin 1100, which was also discarded, and which more than likely inspired some clever French designer...
  • Ferrari 365 GTB Daytona (1968, left): The famous Daytona is not only considered one of the most beautiful cars of all times, but it also meant an aesthetic break with the rounded Ferraris of the previous years.
  • Ferrari Dino (1968, right): Designed by Aldo Brovarone and Fioravanti, it was probably one of the most influential designs in history. It changed the design rules for sports cars, and defined a language, shapes and proportions that can still be seen in current models from Ferrari and other brands.
  • Ferrari P6 Concept (1968, left): The evolution of the Dino's styling towards more serious and geometric forms foreshadowed the famous Ferrari BB and the 308.
  • Ferrari P5 Concept (1968, right): For me, one of the most beautiful and innovative concept cars in history. It seems as if with it, Fioravanti wanted to push the design philosophy he started with the Dino to the limit. It was obvious that the design could not be taken to series production, but as a rolling sculpture, it is absolutely beautiful.
  • Alfa Romeo Pininfarina 33/2 Concept (1969): This is an evolution of the P5 design, but we must admit that the new front and rear, a bit more conservative, make it a beautiful car. I was lucky enough to see it live a few months ago at the Alfa Romeo museum in Arese, and I have no words to describe its beauty.
  • Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2 (1972, left): Once again, Fioravanti invents a new design language, geometric but fluid and tremendously elegant, a language that influenced and inspired many cars of the following years.
  • Ferrari 512 BB (1973, right): Evolution of the P6 Concept and taking some concepts from the incredible Pininfarina Modulo, it is one of Ferrari's most revolutionary cars and designs, with a spectacular side view, its huge and unmistakable front turn signals, the horizontal slot that surrounds the car and that has been a hallmark of the brand for many years (partially retaken in LaFerrari), and a great contrast between the clean and stylized front, which contrasts with the "industrial" rear, with its geometric and intricate grilles. Form and function at its best.
  • Ferrari 308 GTB (1975, left): What more can be said about one of the most beautiful and timeless designs in history? Balance, sensuality, simplicity... I never get tired of admiring it...
  • Ferrari Pinin (1980, right): This Pininfarina project of a four-door Ferrari, designed by Diego Ottina and Fioravanti, would be irremediably discarded by the Italian brand, because -to date- a four-door car has never been in Ferrari's plans. However, its beauty and elegance cannot be disputed. Again, a Fioravanti design that served to inspire a whole generation of saloons in later years.
  • Ferrari 288 GTO (1984, left): Developed from the 308/328, the change in engine position from transverse to longitudinal meant an increase in the wheelbase, which gave it a more serious look. In addition, the increase of tracks was solved with widened fins in a very elegant way. The whole package is brutal but stylish at the same time. Ok, I admit I'm not impartial, I admit I had a poster of the 288 GTO in my room as a teenager...
  • Ferrari F40 (1987, right): A clear example of how functional and brutal can be beautiful. It's not that the Italians know how to combine form and function, it's that they manage to mix both concepts in such a way that one doesn't know which came first, the function or the form, but always with mastery and with the right amount of eccentricity and daring. Developed on the basis of the 288 GTO, everything in the F40 is designed for efficiency (it was designed with competition as an objective) but that seductive "look" of its optical groups (the front indicators) cannot be accidental, nor can the brutality that it transmits seen from its ¾ rear be only the product of hours in the wind tunnel.
  • Fioravanti F100 (1998, above) and F100 R (2000, below): Perhaps one of the most unjustly forgotten concept cars, the F100 and F100 R were developed by Fioravanti to celebrate the centenary of the death of Enzo Ferrari, although for reasons that I don't understand, they don't have the cavallino on their bodies. For me, they represent the quintessence of Fioravanti's style: beautiful, functional, minimalist, fluid, with innovative details... it transmits movement and speed, without resorting to gratuitously aggressive lines. Bravo maestro!

  • Fioravanti Sensiva Concept (1994): It may look like just another futuristic design car, but it should be noted that 22 years ago Fioravanti presented this hybrid with four electric motors, one per wheel, and with the heat engine decoupled from the wheels; a series hybrid. It's something like a supercar Volt ahead of its time.
  • Alfa Romeo Vola Concept (2001): In addition to a beautiful design, this concept car featured a pivoting roof, which rotated 180 degrees and was placed over the trunk. An original idea that was later taken up by Ferrari and Renault, who later produced production cars with this type of roof.

Great designers: Leonardo Fioravanti

  • Fioravanti LF1 Concept (2009): With the LF1 Concept, the Italian designer presented his idea of what an F1 car should be: a hybrid racing car, safer and more efficient, with aerodynamics more focused on speed and efficiency than on ground effect. Here again I agree with Fioravanti, and I think that in the current F1 cars, grip depends too much on aerodynamics, something that not only detracts from the show (makes overtaking difficult) but is absurd, because it will never be applied in road cars.

Thanks for reading the article, and I hope you liked this modest tribute to Leonardo Fioravanti, in my opinion, one of the greatest designers of all times.

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