TURIN - By the end of 1999, Industrie Pininfarina will start production of a Honda roadster. The car is derived from the Argento Vivo concept car Pininfarina unveiled at the Tokyo show in October 1995.
The concept car was based on the Honda Integra but the production car is based on the next generation of the European Accord, with a shortened wheelbase.
The roadster will mark Honda's return to sports cars. During Japan's 'bubble economy,' Honda brought out the NS-X supercar and the Beat mini sports car. Recently, Honda has concentrated on minivans and sport utilities.
The last time Honda cars were built by another manufacturer was when Honda worked with Rover.
The production car will have a steel platform and a steel body, while the concept car was based on a aluminum spaceframe with polished aluminum body panels.
Production is planned at 10,000 units a year. The car is expected to be sold mainly in Europe.
Once the convertible is in production, Pininfarina may build a targa version.
The Argento Vivo concept had a metal roof and back light which retracted into the trunk compartment, transforming it to a roadster. This is the system used by the Mercedes SLK.
The Argento Vivo is Pininfarina's first major engineering project with Honda. Pininfarina started cooperating with Honda on styling in 1982. The first public sign of the cooperation was the HP-X, a model unveiled at the 1984 Turin show which represented Pininfarina's view of what the NS-X could have been.
The Argento Vivo will be the second production vehicle built by Pininfarina for a Japanese car manufacturer.
Beginning early in 1999, Industrie Pininfarina will start building 35,000 units a year of the Mitubishi Pajero Pinin. The new compact sport utility will rival the Toyota RAV4 and Suzuki Vitara in Europe.
Industrie Pininfarina recently bought a factory for the Pajero project from the Turin Bankruptcy Court. The former seat plant, in Bairo Canavese near Turin, will be converted to complete vehicle production for the Pajero Pinin. The production site for the Argento Vivo has not been chosen.