While his name might not be synonymous with the masterpieces he created, Leonardo Fioravanti’s work, at least, is familiar to an entire generation of automobile enthusiasts who hung posters of Ferrari’s supercars in their rooms to ogle. To celebrate that body of work, which ranges from the mid-Sixties to the modern day, the organizers of the EyesOn Design car show will present Fioravanti with their lifetime achievement award next month.
After studying mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan, Fioravanti joined Pininfarina as a stylist in 1964. The then-26-year old was, as Winston Goodfellow described him in “Ferrari Hypercars,” not just gifted at styling cars but also “ambitious, cultured, and elegant.” He also yearned to apply his studies into aerodynamics to his designs, including his first assignment, Pininfarina’s road-going redesign of the Ferrari 250 LM, which debuted at Geneva in 1965 to critical acclaim.
That ambition served him well at Pininfarina. In his first five years there, he penned the Ferrari Daytona production car, put forth the Ferrari P5 and P6 styling studies, and was promoted to become the assistant director of Pininfarina’s Center of Studies and Research. He also refined a number of earlier Pininfarina designs for the Dino into the production Dino 206 and Dino 246. The next several years saw him ascend to the director of the Center of Studies and Research while designing the Berlinetta Boxer, the 308 GTB and GTS, and the 365 GT4 2+2, among other cars.
Even though Pininfarina was an early adopter of computer-aided design and styling, taking to the technology in the Seventies, Fioravanti stuck to his proven methods of car design. As Goodfellow quoted Fioravanti in telling the story of how he designed the Ferrari 288 GTO starting in early 1982, “We found ourselves working the same way we used to work 20 years ago… We forgot all about the computers and concentrated on the business of building the actual car.”
Toward the end of his tenure with Pininfarina, he oversaw two projects that would have lasting effects on the direction of the Ferrari brand. The first, mentoring Lorenzo Ramaciotti, ultimately helped provide some sense of stability and continuity to the company following Enzo Ferrari’s death. The second, overseeing Aldo Brovarone’s design of the Ferrari F40, not only saw off Enzo Ferrari with a brutal and powerful purpose-built machine, it also established the company as an economic powerhouse. “It boosted the sales of Ferrari and started its booming fortunes,” he told Goodfellow.
Fioravanti left Pininfarina in early 1988 to work first for Ferrari itself and then a year later to serve as the director of design for Fiat’s Centro Stilo. However, that posting only lasted a couple of years before he joined his two sons, Matteo and Luca, at Fioravanti Srl, a former architecture studio that Leonardo Fioravanti transformed into a mobility design studio.
He has since penned designs for Chinese, French, Japanese, and American automakers and shown concept cars under the Fioravanti name, but he also continues from time to time to lend his talents to Maranello. Over his entire career, he’s also secured at least a couple dozen patents under his name, ranging from his design for the F40 to an electric vehicle drive unit.
This year’s EyesOn Design show will take place June 16 at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. The Vision Honored Awards Dinner will take place June 14 at the MGM Grand Detroit Ballroom in Detroit. For more information, visit EyesOnDesign.org.