Art Appreciation: Cisitalia 202 Spider Nuvolari

A Sleeping Beauty of a Cisitalia D46

Giorgio Oppici sent in his spectacular short film showcasing a perfectly patinaed Cisitalia D46. There are a lot of ways to make a film about a car, but usually they feature quick cuts, loud music, and booming exhaust notes. They get your adrenaline up. They get you excited about the subject. Advertisers and music video directors have known how to pull those emotions out of us for a long time.

Giorgio’s approach is the exact opposite. This isn’t a music video (although the music is perfect). This doesn’t get your adrenaline up. It doesn’t even motivate. What it does do is all the more rare. It forces you to pause… To appreciate… To wonder. It is a love letter to the magnificent Cisitalia D46 that I want to read again and again.

Thank you for sending this in, Giorgio. It’s fantastic. Check out Giorgio’s equally beautiful film on BMW Motorcycles that we featured last year.

Decision at Scottsdale: Which Little Italian?

FrontEnds

We marveled yesterday at the tremendous lineup at Gooding’s Scottsdale auctions next weekend. With this remarkable list of lots crossing the stage, it isn’t easy for pretend-billionaires like ourselves to decide which cars we’ll be raising our paddles for. Then again, if I was a pretend-billionaire, I’d probably be taking all of them home… Let’s make it pretend-millionaire to keep it interesting.

1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari Front

This 1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari is certainly a beautiful option. It is the esoteric hipster’s choice—why bother consorting with common 50’s and 60’s racing cars when you can hang with the racing machines of the 1940’s. Rare stuff indeed. If you’re an Abarth fan, there’s no reason to immediately dismiss the Cisitalia either. Carlo Abarth was still an employee of Cisitalia when the 202 was designed.

1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari three quarter1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari Profile1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari cockpit

Of the handful of 202 variants (including the 202 and 202MM), the Stabilimenti Farina penned Spider Nuvolari is my favorite. It has all the visual hallmarks of what were to become iconic sports and racing design elements. The oval grille, the beginnings of tail-fins, that low windscreen: They all combine beautifully in this gorgeous little package. Just look at those mesh air intakes! Simply stunning.

1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza Profile

There’s no such thing as a bad Abarth. Although I prefer my Abarth coupes with the double-bubble up top—I doubt I’d fit in otherwise—There’s no shortage of beautiful curves and sexy angles of this 1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza. I particularly like the details on this particular example. At first glance it’s a bit jarring to see a bright red Italian beauty of this vintage without the required Route Borani wires, but I’m a huge fan of these purposeful (and original) pressed steelies. I think they give it a racier look than wires would.

1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza cockpit1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza Tail
If you’re planning on going to the track with one of these machines, the Abarth might be right choice. Designed for the racing class changes of 1960, the 850 was a step above it’s 750 brother and remained competitive in club racing throughout the decade. Sadly, this example is fitted with a later 903cc engine.

Gorgeous.

1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Three Quarter

With such remarkable company, you might think the 1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile here doesn’t even enter into the equation. It certainly isn’t going to compete with the other two on the track—and you might not even consider it an able racing machine. You’d probably be right. The only sporting Bianchini that comes to mind for me is the tale of George Lucas’ crash in one that prompted his exit from the California sports and racing scene.

Even so, I’m a fan. Italy’s take on the practicality and aesthetic that propelled the Mini to huge successes is clearly in evidence here. Of course, the Fiat 500 clearly is what comes to mind when we think of an Italian version of the Mini. I like the Cincuento, but as a long-time supporter of underdogs, I think I’d take the Bianchina if given the choice between the two. And just dig this two tone interior.

1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Front1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Profile1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Interior

Then again, with an estimate of $35-$45,000, maybe pretend-millionaire me would just take home the Autobianchi as a side dish alongside the Abarth or the Cisitalia. What’s your choice?

More information and photos on the lot detail pages for the 1947 Cisitalia SMM Spyder Nuvolari, 1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza, and 1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile.

Update:

The auction is complete and the estimates all pretty much nailed. They all came in at the low to middle of their estimated range. If you picked the Cisitalia, you sir, have expensive tastes. Yeah, me too.
1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari $650,000
1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza $89,100
1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile $40,700

Topps World on Wheels: Cisitalia


From 1953—1955 Topps issued a series of bubblegum cards featuring beautifully illustrated motor vehicles of all shapes and sizes: from military tanks, to construction equipment, to scooters, and—yes—sports and racing cars. Over the next few weeks, I’ll feature some favorites from among their sportier cards. When available, I’ll include the text from the back-side of the card; inaccuracies and all. I love the artifacts of mid-century printing techniques: all the halftones and misaligned screens and ink overflows in these cards are exquisite.

This time: a 1947 Cisitalia 202 Spider Nuvolari. Again, text below is from the reverse of the card.

Horsepower: 55
Cylinders: 4
Length: 147.4″
Width: 55.6″

The Cisitalia runabout is an Italian sports car with an ideal design for road racing or fast touring. Many new design ideas were started by this company, including finned rear fenders, and side exhaust ports like the Buick. Good weight distribution, and low center of gravity allow the car to turn at high speeds.

More on Topps’ World on Wheels at the Topps Archives.

1947 Cisitalia D46

Fantasy Junction is offering this 1947 Cisitalia D46 Monoposto racer. The middle of the 20th century had a lot of people comparing cars and airplanes; from Turbine powered cars to Tailfin madness. These frequent comparisons make it easy to dismiss any comparison between the two. This Cisitalia shows that the comparison was apt long before it was cliché. Just look at this thing, It’s a biplane on the ground, screaming through the turns like a barnstormer on display.

The joy of early aerodynamics is that it was largely guesswork or borrowed. Car manufacturers didn’t have wind tunnels, just a gut feeling of what felt right—which was surprisingly accurate. The only other source of aerodynamics cues were from the airplane industry. The Italians in particular excelled at taking their post-WWII airplane technology and adapting it for the ground (Vespa, anyone?).

The Cisitalia, or Consorzio Industriale Sportive Italia, was financed by Footballer turned textile and sporting goods manufacturer, Piero Dusio. Mr. Dusio had a long passion for motorsport, having competed in the Mille Miglia many times (taking a class victory in a Siata 500 in 1937). He also placed 6th in the 1936 Italian Grand Prix.

The D46 has a Fiat heart in the form of a race prepped Fiat 1100cc engine and Fiat suspension. Wrapped in this elegant Dante Giacosa designed body, the D46 was ready to take all comers in the highly competitive Voiturette class. This example is number 20 of approximately 30 D46s built, and among the very few to feature the expanded side fuel tanks shown here in chrome. The car has extensive race history in Europe and Australia before coming to the States for restoration in the 1980s. I love an inventory page that describes the car as “Pebble Beach ready”. With this Cisitalia, I believe it. Oh how I wish I could strap on a leather helmet and some goggles and tear around a wooded country road in this D46.

Dennis David has more information on the Cisitalia D46 on his Grand Prix Pages.