America's infatuation with the jet plane in the early 1950s did not take long to cross the Atlantic. Particularly Italy's leading automotive designers and coach-builders were quick to respond. Keen as they were to break into the very lucrative American market. Ghia successfully tied up with Chrysler, Bertone received universal acclaim for their 'B.A.T.' show cars but not much has been said about Pinin Farina's foray into jet design.
At the time the Turin based design house was making quite a name for itself with altogether more understated creations based on the company's Cisitalia 202 launched in 1948. This very elegant machine was immediately recognized as a revolutionary design and was displayed in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York only three years later. Company founder and lead designer Battista 'Pinin' Farina could nevertheless not resist the lure of the jet-age and created one of the period's most extravagant designs.
Dubbed the PF200, Pinin Farina's jet-age design was a lot of things but certainly not understated. The prominent, circular grille-surround looked like it came straight off a contemporary fighter jet like the F86 Sabre. It was finished in chrome, just like the 'bumperettes' alongside it and the sizeable rear bumper. The rear wings featured long fins that extended beyond the tail of the car. Surrounded by so many jet fighter cues, the pair of triple exhausts could have easily been mistaken for machine guns.
Found under the exuberant Pinin Farina body was Lancia's Aurelia B52 chassis. This was one of only a handful of cars still available to custom coach-builders without a body. Based on the production Aurelia B20, it also featured a slightly longer wheelbase to give the designers some more room to work. It was powered by the same 2-litre V6 engine that had been developed under supervision of the legendary Vittorio Jano. Fitted with hemispherical heads and a single Solex carburetor, it produced between 75 and 90 bhp depending on the state of tune.
In the fall of 1952, the Lancia Aurelia B52 PF200 made its world debut at the Turin Motor Show. Although the car had been built with an eye on a limited production run, there is no indication that the striking creation sparked the interest of prospected buyers. Pinin Farina nevertheless continued along the same lines and created several more PF200 show cars. Using the Aurelia platform another two Cabriolets and three Coupes were constructed; each with distinct features. One order was received from the United States from a client who wanted the PF200 design fitted to a Cadillac chassis.
By 1955 the final PF200 had been produced and the jet craze had slightly faded. Pinin Farina wisely turned to what it did best and for example created the Aurelia B24 Spyder; another instant design classic. Some cues like the chrome grille-surround and the rear deck treatment with raised sides of the Coupe, have been used on other cars. Derivatives of the latter can be found on Ferraris up into the 1990s. It is believed that of a total of six PF200 Aurelias have been built and at least four exist today. They perhaps did not receive much love in period but it is telling that most have been cherished by the same owners for many decades.