Available in the UK: Nardi Danese
Master restorers Hall & Hall have this gem of an etceterini among their current stock. It’s a remarkable little machine. I’m particularly drawn to these early Italian sporting models that so wonderfully combine the best in American hot rod aesthetic with the small sporty stance and maneuverability of European racers. It’s a combination that has long been neglected, and deserves a reexamination. Somewhere along the way, American hot rodders decided that straight-line speed and horsepower was the goal, and the road-racing hot rod has virtually become a thing of the past.
The Danese was built around an Alfa-Romeo sourced 2500 6-cylinder. Nardi, as always, worked his engine tuning magic to up the 6C’s output to 150hp. Fitting the engine and transmission low in the frame rails, the car was a light handling, but relatively powerful little machine. The low mounting of the engine also allowed coachbuilder Rocco Motto to wrap the Danese in this lovely aluminum body that accentuates the low, lean silhouette of the bonnet despite the relative bulk and height of the engine.
This example, chassis 948-11 has race history on both sides of the Atlantic. Delivered to Count Felice Trossi, the car competed in the Mille Miglia piloted by Francesco Beneventano in the Targa Florio and Mille Miglia in 1948 and 1949. The ’49 Mille had Nardi’s business partner—and the car’s namesake—Renato Danese in the passenger seat!
After some time spent in Argentina, the car found it’s way to California and into the hands of Gordon Cooper. Cooper bored out the engine, upping the horsepower to 200. Additional modifications, including these distinctive twin grilles for the oil cooler, made 948-11 a competitive machine on the West Coast. It was during Cooper’s time with the car that Motor Trend tested her. Shortly thereafter, the car made its way into Luigi Chinetti’s collection, who held the car for more than 20 years.
Today, Hall & Hall offers the car in remarkably good shape. The car has been restored it’s original configuration. Cooper himself provided the original grille, having swapped it for a more open grille to provide better breathing during his time with the car. More information on 948-11 on Hall&Hall’s stock detail page
The daughter of Gordon Cooper, Danese (named for the car!), has collected a selection of photos of her parents’ adventures with 948-11 during their time racing the car in the 50’s. Click on over to her Flickr for more. Outstanding!
More on Nardi at Etceterini.
Utimate Car Pages has a fairly well detailed history of 948-11, including a rumored Fangio test drive!