Fascinating news from Italy that Tata is to take an ownership stake in styling house Pininfarina – rescuing one of the best-known names in automotive design from the financial crisis that threatened to engulf it.

Pininfarina has designed the bulk of Ferrari’s recent range, and currently builds the C70 and Focus C+C for Ford. And, like Britain’s beleaguered high-street banks, it’s raising money by issuing new shares.

We don’t know how much of a stake Tata will take – but the Pininfarina family will see its current 55 per cent holding (and the control that brings) diluted to about 30 per cent. Tata is likely to share the extra investment with French company Bollore, a specialist maker of electric cars.

Tata has already commissioned Pininfarina to set up a new design centre in India, which raises the prospect of handsome new Tatas with a European design flavour being sold around the world, including the UK. An application of Pininfarina design thinking to the next-generation Nano is an intriguing prospect, too.