You may recall that Mahindra, my favorite maker of tiny, rugged, non-Kei diesel vans, bought storied Italian design house Pininfarina late last year. The goal was to turn Pininfarina from a coachbuilder into a builder of complete cars. It looks like that first step has been taken, as Pinifarina just announced their first limited production Mahindra-era car, the H2 Speed.
Pininfarina CEO Silvio Pietro Angori described the car as being for “gentlemen drivers,” a somewhat dated term for moneyed fellows who buy their way into racing teams. The H2 Speed is built on a Le Mans Prototype 2 racing chassis, already homologated for FIA races, and they’re building 10 of them.
They showed a concept at Geneva, but now very liquid gentlepeople drivers can buy one at about $2.5 million a pop. Well, ten gentlepeople drivers, and they can only take them on the track.
The car is interesting for a number of reasons. Technically, it’s using a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electrical power for a brace of electric motors that will pump 503 HP to the rear wheels. The drivetrain is built by GreenGT, and seems to be based on the GreenGT H2, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered racecar.
The part that really matters for a Pininfarina, though, is the look, and the H2 Speed does look quite striking. It’s inspired by Pininfarina’s 1969 safety-focused F1 car concept, the Ferrari Sigma Formula One car.
That Sigma car, designed by Paolo Martin, was extremely innovative, and predicted a number of future F1 safety developments, including wheel side pods to prevent overrun and fire suppression systems and safer fuel tanks. The interesting safety orange, white, and safety green color scheme of the car (it did appear in other colors) has been carried over to the H2 Speed as well.
The H2 Speed is striking and spaceship-like. The most notable design feature is probably the black inset/cutout area in the side, between the wheels. This gives the car a lean, slightly skeletal look.
The canopy is reminiscent of an earlier Pininfarina design, the Lancia Stratos, with its A-pillarless wrap-around windshield. The rear spoiler is held in place by a central dorsal fin, which is novel.
It’s a great-looking race car, and the drivetrain choice and overall melding of heritage designs and radically new technologies suggest a pretty good start from a reborn Pininfarina.
I’m excited to see what kinds of thrilling nothing at all they’ll have in my price range!