Barchetta concept dedicated to Pininfarina

  • 18-Mar-2013 04:39 EDT

Sergio concept uses a "virtual" windshield using aerodynamics to direct air over occupants' heads.

Paying homage to Sergio Pininfarina, who died last year, and the mid-engined configuration that he persuaded Enzo Ferrari to adopt in 1965, his namesake company, Pininfarina, devised a striking barchetta concept car, based on the running gear of the Ferrari 458 Spider, which was displayed at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

The idea of the Sergio concept was to present a modern view of a mid-engined barchetta, traditionally stripped of all excess equipment to save weight for competition use. Construction is from carbon fiber, and Pininfarina estimates that the Sergio is around 150 kg (330 lb) lighter than the 458 Spider, so it has a mass of around 1280 kg (2820 lb). The carbon fiber body is reckoned to have a mass around 10% less than the original aluminum body of the 458 Spider.

One of the most striking features of the car is the lack of a windscreen. Pininfarina says it has overcome the obvious difficulty this would create for driver and passenger by using the aerodynamic deflector in front of the cockpit to create a "virtual" windshield by deflecting the airflow above the occupants' heads and keeping them clear of turbulence. It is said to be effective at speeds down to 50 km/h (31 mph). The roll bar behind the cockpit has been designed as a wing surface and uses the deflected air to increase downforce on the rear drive axle. The rearview mirror has also been designed to help in diverting the airflow over occupants’ heads.

Even so, the car is supplied with a matching pair of crash helmets, the result of collaboration between Pininfarina Extra and Italian sports helmet manufacturer Newmax. The helmet color is matched to the body color of the car. Storage space is built into the cockpit for the helmets. The roll bar wing also serves another function. The headrests for the seats appear to be floating because they are not connected to the seats but attached to the wing.

The open-mouthed front of the car with the spoiler under the front is not only part of the shape but also designed to compensate for the lack of downforce generated by a windshield on the front axle, and it channels the correct amount of cooling air to the front-mounted radiator.

Besides the 458 Spider running gear, the Sergio concept also retains the same wheelbase and track measurements. Inside, other parts are retained—the dashboard (except its top), seat structure, center console, and steering wheel. The 21-in light alloy wheels with one stud fastening were specifically designed for the concept, with a hub design derived from the 458 Challenge. New LED taillights were used, with new LED cylindrical projector lights at the front inserted into the bumper, embedded in a crystalline block of Plexiglas.

Pininfarina describes the design as composed of two body masses in red, brought together by the longitudinal black insert. This black section also contains all the functional parts on the body such as the door handles, fins, and air intake orifices. The doors are not full-size structures to help maximize the rigidity of the body. Opening is by vertical rotation through 45 degrees to ease access.

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