BMC 1800 Berlina Aerodynamica by Pininfarina

It's difficult to say what could have happened had the British Motor Corporation put this prototype into production soon after it was first shown at the 1967 Turin Motor Show. Maybe it would have revolutionized family sedans before the Citroën CX did…seven years later.

It was the work of a young designer named Leonardo Fioravanti, who had joined Pininfarina, fresh out of school, in 1964. You may know some of his later work: Ferrari Dino, Daytona, 512 Berlinetta Boxer, 308 GTB, Testarossa, and 288 GTO.

Fioravanti had been obsessed for years with the idea of designing an efficient, futuristic six-passenger family sedan that incorporated the theories of Dr Wunibald Kamm—famous for the 'kamm-back' tail, seen even on the Berlina Aerodynamica. In our world filled with the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Audi A7, and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé, a 'two box' sedan, with a raked, coupe-like rear window, seems obvious. But in the '60s, it was revolutionary.

It came at the practical end of the relationship between BMC and Pininfarina. The former kept dictating design requirements that were difficult for Pininfarina to style around, resulting in the production car that the Berlina Aerodynamica was based on: the fugly 'Landcrab' BMC models. This advanced prototype was intended to show both just how advanced the BMC 1800 series could have been—and how Pininfarina expected sedans to evolve.

In an era when even race cars weren't being tested in the wind tunnel, giving a rakish sedan to the general population was a bold move, but one that only a driving enthusiast like Fioravanti would have dreamed up. Think about it: with better aerodynamics, automakers would be able to make their middle-of-the-road vehicles faster and more enjoyable to drive while using the same miserly engines.

In this case, even though the protoype weighed 181 kg (400 lbs) more than the production cars, its drag coefficient was just 0.35, compared to 0.45—its top speed was similarly superior, at 165 km/h (103 mph), 16 km/h (10 mph) more than the normal 'Landcrab.'

Many believe that Fioravanti's designs were ripped off by other manufacturers. This car is a dead ringer for both the later Citroën CX and Rover SD1 sedans, while this car spawned a smaller variant, the 1100, that is said to have been mildly reinterpreted as the Citroën GS.

This working prototype is said to have been last seen somewhere in the UK.

Sources