With the increasing popularity of unitary chassis in the 1950s and 1960s, the demand for custom coachbuilding decreased. Especially in the high-end segment these had traditionally played a major role, but by the end of the 1960s the days were numbered for most of them. Many were incorporated by the car manufacturers they had traditionally worked for like Mulliner, Ghia and Scaglietti. Others were turned around into independent design studios that penned production and concept cars for others. The creativity previously used for lavish one-offs was now put to use for stunning show cars.
One of the most prominent of these independent design studios is the Italian Pininfarina. The Turin based company has been responsible for most of Ferrari production cars of the last fifty years, but have also debuted some stunning concepts on a wide variety of chassis. In the second half of the 1960s Alfa Romeo and Ferrari mid-engined racing car chassis formed the basis of some of their finest work. Show cars like the Alfa Romeo 33 Pininfarina Speciale and the Ferrari P5 showcased that the relatively new mid-engined layout allowed for very aggressive, yet elegant designs.
At the 1970 Geneve Motorshow the coachbuilder unveiled the last of the series of mid-engined studies. Dubbed the Modulo, it was based on one of the 25 512 S racers Ferrari built for homologation purposes. Over this racing chassis Pininfarina very tightly draped a squarish and ultra-low body. All wheels were partly covered, which made it impossible to turn the front wheels. One of the most striking features is the canopy style roof that slides forward to allow access to the cabin. The 550 bhp V12 engine could be admired through 24 big holes in the engine cover.
Pininfarina received universal acclaim and multiple awards for the striking concept that still dazzles the crowds 35 years after its launch. Like many concept cars the Modulo was a sign of things to come from Pininfarina and Ferrari. The show car’s profile and details like the front lights found their way on the 365 GT4/BB production car launched a few years later. Pininfarina retained the car and has showcased it on numerous events allowing many generations to appreciate the exceptional design.
In Pininfarina’s 75th anniversary celebrations the Modulo again took centre stage. With the Birdcage 75th Concept the design studio not only celebrated its birthday, but also paid tribute to one of their finest designs. The one-off Ferrari is seen here on display at the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance in April 2005 and in August of that same year at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
About our photographer Rainer Selzer
Rainer Selzer is always ready for a big shot and is focused on historic motorsport.
He is working with us for over three years and visits motorsport events, classic car meetings or car museums. Follow him on instagram @rs65photos or visit his homepage www.rs65photos.com for more!