It’s 1947, a really rich Italian guy decides to use his big bucks to get his dream car built.

Turns out his dream car went beyond anyone’s dreams.

Cisitalia 202

This story is about a rare sports car you may have seen and swooned over: the Cisitalia 202. It’s considered one of the most magnificent examples of modern industrial art. But it’s really about the guy who got it made.

On Labor Day weekend, this is a story about a Labor of Love.

Piero Dusio was a former Italian soccer player in the 20s. After a career ending knee injury, he started a textile business, which evolved into sporting goods which expanded into a supplier of military uniforms. As a supplier of military uniforms, he hit it big when WWII broke out.

Signor Dusio was also a competent racer, competing in the Mille Miglia and Italian Grand Prix. At the end of the war, with his riches, he set up Consorzio Industriale Sportiva Italia (what Cisitalia stands for) to build cars. Ferry Porsche (the famous son of the famous father) got involved.

His first car was the D-46, a monoposto racer powered by an 1100cc Fiat engine. It was the first series-built racecar with space-frame construction. He sold 50, allowing him to dream bigger:

Dusio told his engineer Giovannia Savonuzzi :

“I want a car that is wide like my Buick, low like a grand prix (racing car), comfortable like a Rolls-Royce, and light like our single-seater D-46.”

Savonuzzi created the design, then turned it over to Pininfarina to complete.

 1947 Cisitalia 202 Spider Nuvolari

1947 Cisitalia 202 Spider bodied by Nuvolari

The 202 coupe and spyders were built around low-cost Fiat components including a lightweight, hand-welded tube frame structure. A 1089cc four-cylinder engine churned out 66 horsepower. Only 153 coupes and 17 spyders were built from 1947-1952. Price might have been an issue: $5,000 for the coupe = $51K today).

Here is what Leslie Kendall, chief curator of the Petersen Museum, has written [Crave online]…

“The Pinin Farina-bodied Cisitalia was the first series-produced automobile with the hood lower than the fenders. The fastback design was aerodynamically efficient and the grille opening was only as large as it needed to be to admit the required amount of air to cool the engine. The sleek, taut. unadorned shape was seen as a counterpoint to the fussy styles then favored by many prominent French, British, and German coachbuilders, most of which were not in keeping with the spirit of austerity in postwar Europe. The motoring world needed elegant simplicity and that is what a Cisitalia by Pinin Farina offered.”

The Cisitalia 202 Coupe has been hailed as a masterpiece by fine art experts for decades.  To prove the point, the Cisitalia 202 is featured in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection since 1972.

In 2012 students in transportation design at the IED in Turin, Italy unveiled their Cisitalia 202 E concept at that year’s  Geneva Motor Show.  Pretty awesome, eh?

Cisitalia 202 E Concept 2012

Cisitalia 202 E concept 2012