No country has a handle on style quite like Italy. From the couture fashion houses to the grand Italian villas, from the bespoke furniture brands to the industrial design firms that push the envelope in regards to precision and imagination, the country is the epicenter of haute creations, a fact in which many Italians take pride. Nowhere is this dedication to style more evident than in the country’s luxury auto sector.
Italy is the birthplace of the world’s most celebrated automobile brands; Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati—the stunners that roll out of these marques are revered by auto enthusiasts everywhere, garnering gaping stares and inspiring lust in the hearts of those not lucky enough (or wealthy enough) to sit in the driver’s seats.
Marked by aerodynamic silhouettes, sexy lines, and roaring engines that denote pure power, Italian supercars are widely considered the most exciting special interest vehicles to own, evoking emotion amongst the dedicated fans in a way that a German luxury sedan just can’t match. Those fans have Leonardo Fioravanti to thank; he has done more to define the impeccable style of luxury Italian autos over the past four decades than any other. His designs have molded the bodies of Alfa Romeos, generated custom concept cars, and altogether defined dozens of Ferraris.
Now leading an eponymous firm specializing in the auto sector, Fioravanti honed his impeccable skills at Pininfarina, the Italian design house that puts its stamp on autos from the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, and more. He joined the company in 1963 immediately following his tenure at Milan Polytechnic University where he received a degree in mechanical engineering. During his 24 years at Pininfarina, Fioravanti personally designed 24 Ferraris, some of which are the most famous road cars from the brand. He advanced to the position of CEO and general manager of Pininfarina’s research and development arm, where he led the company’s charge into the industrial design realm.
In 1987, Ferrari offered Fioravanti a position in-house, where he was the project director for the Ferrari F40, considered by many to be the most iconic of all Ferrari designs. When it debuted, company founder Enzo Ferrari, then 89 years old, said, “A little more than a year ago, I expressed a wish to my engineers: build a car to be the best in the world. And now that car is here.” He then revealed the F40, which garnered gasps from the crowd. The successor of the Ferrari 288 GTO, the F40 celebrated 40 years of Ferrari design, and was the last Ferrari created under Enzo Ferrari’s watch (he died in 1988). Initially, only 400 F40s were commissioned, but its popularity, despite the $470,000 price tag, led to the creation of 1,315 total.