Car: Pininfarina X, 1960

Car designers had explored just about every wheel configuration by the dawn of the 1960s. These even included wheels arranged in a diamond pattern, both as a short lived production car, a Sunbeam, and several prototypes, the Vannod, the Voisin, and the Gordon. Pininfarina’s X, though, pushed the parameters out further by using a rhomboid for the car’s “footprint.”

1960 Pininfarina X
With its wheels arranged in a rhomboid configuration, the X is one of the strangest-looking sedans that designers have ever come up with.

This amazing four-door sedan had, in effect, two wheelbases—one from the single front wheel to the two in the center, and one from the center wheels to the rear wheel.

The smoothly pointed nose had the car’s only steered wheel hidden deep in its center, and was fronted by three headlights beneath a Plexiglass fairing with three prominent chrome overriders beneath for protection.

1960 Pininfarina X
1960 Pininfarina X

At the back, the single powered wheel was similarly concealed and the tail, housing the 66ci (1,089cc) Fiat engine, was dominated by its twin stabilizing, buttress-type fins.

Pininfarina was happy to build the car as a display showpiece for the Turin motor show, but for Alberto Morelli of the Turin Polytechnic, it was a serious study of aerodynamics and fuel economy, exploiting some of his design patents.

1960 Pininfarina X car
1960 Pininfarina X car

Pininfarina still has the car in its collection although not in the same form as it originated in fall 1960. The rear doors that hinged from the back were changed to front-hinged types before road testing. The X also led to Y, a Pininfarina city car prototype, similar in profile but with wheels back to their four-cornered convention.

“Most revolutionary vision on four wheels: one for driving, one steering, two stabilizers… Pininfarina was the first designer to marry together form and function, then send them off on their honeymoon as a harmonious whole.”

Gerry Butcher, Daily Mail Newspaper, 1966

Video: model of the car Pininfarina X

Specification: model of the car Pininfarina X

YEAR REVEALED: 1960
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Turin, Italy
HISTORICAL STATUS: prototype
ENGINE: four-cylinder, 66ci (1,089cc)
MAXIMUM POWER: 43bhp
LAYOUT: rear-mounted engine driving the rearmost wheel
BODYWORK: four-door, four-seater sedan
TOP SPEED: 90mph (145kph)
NUMBER BUILT: one