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Ferrari honours designer with exhibit Add to ...

A three-month special exhibition on the Ferrari designs of the late Sergio Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design house patriarch who designed almost every road-going Ferrari from the early 1960s to 2001, will launch at the end of this month at the Ferrari museum in Maranello.

Sergio Pininfarina became an integral part of his father’s carrozzeria business in the early 1950s, helping to forge and deepen the firm’s relationship with Enzo Ferrari, then as now the firm’s most glamorous client. The small family run Italian coach-building company from Cambiano, Italy (near Turin), soon became Ferrari’s de facto exterior design department, shaping more than 60 years’ worth of Ferrari come-hither shapes.

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Among his most famous Ferrari designs are the limited 250 GTO of the early 1960s, the Dino models that came soon after (reportedly his favourite) that ran into the 1970s, the Testarossa in the mid-1980s with its trend-setting side strakes, and the ultimate homage to Ferrari’s founder, the exotic-even-for-Ferrari Enzo.

The exhibition will feature his designs and Pininfarina’s current evolutions of those themes in three areas: motorsports, concept cars and grand touring cars. Cars on display in the racing area will include a 250 LM, the firm’s last overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 250 GT SWB Stirling Moss drove to win the Goodwood Touring Trophy, and the experimental Formula 1 Sigma shown by Pininfarina in the 1960s, which will be presented next to today’s F1 Ferrari. The concept area will include the spaceship-like Modulo, the P6 that foreshadowed the 308s of Magnum PI fame, and the blocky Pinin concept, an angular Ferrari with four doors.

The 11 grand touring cars will include a sampling of his front and mid-engine Ferrari designs (no Maseratis, Peugeots or Alfas he also designed allowed in this museum), plus a few modern Ferraris designed by the firm now run by his son Paolo and daughter Lorenza Pininfarina. Following Sergio’s passing in July, the memorial exhibit will be launched by Ferrari and Pininfarina family members as well as Ferrari CEO Luca di Montezemolo on October 26, then runs to January 7, 2013, with updates available at museoferrari.com.

Ferrari also recently announced that its unique FF blazing hot hatch will be available with a huge panoramic sunroof, its largest ever, that leaves an unobstructed view upwards from just behind the folded sun visors to the top of the C-pillars behind the rear passengers’ heads.

New Dodge Dart Aero model added for fuel savings

Following in the fuel-conscious draft of the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and the Ford Focus SFE, Dodge has unveiled a super-frugal version of its compact Dart sedan, dubbed the Aero, that sips fuel with the best of them.

Starting at $19,795 before freight, the Dart Aero averages 4.8 litres/100 km on the highway, according to Dodge’s official Canadian figures, which is on par with the best fuel economy figures of any non-hybrid car. And the Dart Aero is available with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic as well, which barely moves that highway figure to 4.9 litres/100, but likely improves it in the real world.

Of course, those are only highway figures, using optimistic Natural Resources Canada testing procedures (no A/C use, never more than 97 km/h, etc.). In the tougher EPA metrics, the Dart Aero with the automatic averages the exact same as the manual six-speed in overall (near equal city and highway combined) fuel consumption: 7.4 litres/100 km. On the EPA’s more real-world scale, that’s just ahead of the Cruze Eco automatic’s, at a 7.6 litres/100 km average, but just behind the smaller a Focus SFE’s 7.1 figure.

The Dart Aero’s 1.4-litre turbocharged engine achieves such numbers through using lightweight materials, aerodynamic tweaks, and low-rolling resistance tires, and active grille shutters, similar to its rivals. The mid-size but compact-priced Dart can also boast that it has recently been named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, an impressive accomplishment for any compact car, though its two key rivals have also achieved this. Plus the compact Focus hatchback still holds lots more cargo.

Goodyear unveils self-inflating tires

Tire powerhouse Goodyear recently unveiled a tire that could self-inflate to the preset air pressure without having to stop or even slow down, a technology shown in commercial truck tires, but one in which it is also working on for passenger tires.

Maintaining proper air pressure automatically would help the handling, fuel economy and extend the longevity of the tires, said Goodyear. Plus it would help drivers to avoid performing those nasty but necessary tire pressure checks in the cold of winter, when tires are most susceptible to losing air.

Goodyear’s new Air Maintenance Technology debuted at a commercial truck show in Germany in late September, with the American company estimating that tread life decreases nine to 16 per cent for every 10 per cent of under-inflation in transport trucks.

The technology works through internal regulators in the tire sensing when tire pressure drops below the pre-specified inflation. The regulator then opens to allow air flow into the pumping tube.

As the tire rolls, the deformation of the tire flattens the tube, pushing the air through the tire to the air inlet valve. The air then flows into the tire cavity, until the preset inflation pressure is reached.

It really is an ingeniously simple idea, and could help prevent flat tires without the super hard sidewalls and ride of current run-flat tires. The company said the technical challenge is greater for commercial trucks than consumer tires, the former of which run with much more weight and closer to 105 psi pressures, versus the usual 32 psi or so of passenger car tires.

The commercial tire research has been helped along by a U.S. Department of Energy $1.5-million grant, while similar passenger tire technology research funding has been provided by the government of Luxembourg, said Goodyear. An extensive fleet trial is planned for 2013, but the firm didn’t specify whether that was for commercial tires only or both.

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