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Coachwork by Designed by Pinin Farina Coachwork by Stabilimenti Farina
The Cisitalia 202 Before WWII, Italian industrialist Piero Dusio had built up the Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italia (Cisitalia), a successful conglomerate with significant interests in textile and hospitality industries, as well as sporting goods and banking. He was also a multitalented athlete – a star soccer player and a remarkably good racing driver. Dusio dreamed of creating a car of his own and possessed the means to pursue his ambitious vision of building a full line of superb racing cars.
The first Cisitalias were the beautifully engineered 1.1-liter D.46 Monopostos. These innovative single-seaters were the first racing cars to use a full space-frame chassis. Armed with a fully independent front suspension and a brilliant preselector gearbox, the cutting-edge Cisitalias also featured a heavily reworked Fiat engine that produced 60 hp thanks to the addition of a high-performance cylinder head, dry sump lubrication, and twin Weber carburetors.
Although Dusio had his sights set on a Cisitalia Grand Prix car, the logical next step was to produce a series of two-seat sports cars based on the advanced D.46 Monoposto. Dusio’s space-frame sports car – the 202 SMM – debuted at the 1947 Mille Miglia and Tazio Nuvolari drove one of the five cars entered to a heroic 2nd place finish behind Biondetti’s Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Berlinetta.
With the reputation of the 202 SMM Spider, Nuvolari well established, Dusio turned his attention to the development of a sporting road car – the 202 SC, or Sports Coupe. For this project, Dusio approached local coachbuilder Pinin Farina, who used the advanced tube-frame chassis to achieve a compact, idealized design. With harmonious lines, elegant proportions, and a restrained use of exterior decoration, Pinin Farina created the quintessential Italian coupe.
Displayed at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and the Paris Auto Show in 1947, the new Cisitalia was immediately hailed as a masterpiece of automotive design. In summer 1951, the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented Eight Automobiles, a pioneering exhibition devoted to a systematic study of the aesthetic principles and techniques of modern motorcar body design. Unsurprisingly, the beautiful Cisitalia 202 was selected to represent “The Aerodynamic Style” and it offered a stark contrast to the contemporary MG TC included in the exhibit. A testament to its lasting influence, a 202 SC remains in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent design collection.
Despite its advanced sporting chassis and groundbreaking Pinin Farina coachwork, the lovely 202 SC could not save the fledgling Cisitalia marque. The hand-built exotic retailed for approximately $6,000 in the US – at a time when a Jaguar XK120 could be had for $3,000 – and its 1,100 cc Fiat-derived engine seemed archaic when compared to other Italian offerings. Between 1947 and 1952, approximately 170 of these jewels were built.
This Car This 202 SC Coupe, chassis no. 103, is a fascinating example of this important Italian sports car.
While the design of the 202 SC Coupe is now virtually synonymous with Carrozzeria Pinin Farina, it is well known that fellow Torinese coachbuilders Stabilimenti Farina and Vignale constructed many of the 202 SC bodies to help fulfill, what was at the time, a substantial order from Cisitalia.
Chassis 103 was one of the 202 SCs constructed by Stabilimenti Farina and carries body no. 8837. Consistent with its chassis and engine numbers (103 and 146, respectively), this car features the 23-slot grille, distinctive two-piece windscreen, Veglia gauges, and a Nardi steering wheel – all characteristics unique to the early 202 SCs.
Originally delivered to famed imported car dealer Fergus Motors in New York City, the Cisitalia was sold to its first owner Joseph B. Ferguson Jr. of Bridgehampton, New York. An avid sports car enthusiast, Ferguson had been driving a 2.5-liter Healey Westland when his new 202 SC arrived in 1948.
Evidently pleased with the Cisitalia’s race-bred performance, Ferguson entered his new 202 SC into two significant East Coast races.
On September 17, 1949, Ferguson raced the Cisitalia in the Watkins Glen Grand Prix. Wearing race no. 53, the 202 SC achieved an 11th place overall finish and a creditable 2nd in Class. Significantly, existing color photos of the event show that the Stabilimenti Farina-bodied Cisitalia was originally finished in a distinctive light green.
After a noticeable break in the action, Ferguson entered his Cisitalia in the Bridgehampton Road Races held on June 9, 1951. After capturing a 5th place finish in the 10-lap Sagaponack Trophy Race, Ferguson drove the 202 SC to 15th overall in the 25-lap Bridgehampton Cup Race.
Between its outing at Bridgehampton and its sale to Fred Steinhauer of Wellsville, New York, in 1960, little was known of the car’s whereabouts. In 1963 or 1964, the Cisitalia was sold to James Hayden, another New York-area enthusiast. Early on in Mr. Hayden’s ownership, the car was completely disassembled for restoration, but the work was put on hold and the 202 SC continued to rest in the garage for the better part of four decades.
When Mr. Hayden passed away in 2000, his nephew Jim Castellano inherited the Cisitalia. At this time, the disassembled engine was sent to Jim Millington of Claremont, New York, who repaired the block, performed a rebuild, and adjusted the original Weber carburetor. As the engine work was being carried out, the car was shipped to Rick Carroll Restorations in Palm City, Florida, for cosmetic attention and final assembly. After the restoration was completed, the Cisitalia remained in Mr. Castellano’s care for several years before being sold to the current consignor, an East Coast enthusiast with a passion for limited-production coachbuilt sports cars.
Of the estimated 170 Cisitalia 202 SCs originally built, far fewer exist today. From the limited number remaining, only a handful of examples can boast the combination of qualities found in this car. Not only does this beautiful 202 SC have a noteworthy period competition history, desirable early features, and a fascinating provenance, it retains its matching-numbers engine and benefits from a well-kept restoration.
Without question, this exquisite Cisitalia possesses an undeniable appeal for connoisseurs of great Italian sports cars.