It was the distant 1946 when Piero Dusio and Piero Taruffi founded a small car company that would revolutionize the design of the car, especially the Italian one. The Cisitalia in its very few years of real existence has completely changed the concept of European cars: it has brought in vogue designers, engineers and entrepreneurs, has allowed the development of a whole generation of GT and the imposition of a timeless design. After all, when a car is called sculpture in movement from the most important modern art museum in the world, something will mean.
As for many manufacturers of the period, the first car was a small racing car, the D46, powered by Fiat and registered in the main national races. The small 4-cylinder engine of the 1100 could rely on the review of Giacosa and Savonuzzi, developing 62 cv. The first competition was the Coppa Brezzi on the Valentino circuit, in Turin, which saw seven Cisitalia cars lined up, with some of the most famous drivers of the period on board, as well as the founders: Biondetti, Chiron, Cortesi, Nuvolari and Sommers. The race was won by Dusio, but in the two final laps Nuvolari entered the legend driving with the steering wheel detached from the steering column.
Already in the following year was created the Granturismo that brought the house to the Olympus of the Builders: the 202. Designed by Pininfarina, Dusio, Savonuzzi and Giacosa, represents the birth of a design destined to grow in the following years, becoming a popular and widespread canon all over the world. With this car a new way of conceiving the sports car was born, the little Italian GT was born. The design influenced the subsequent cars so much that a Cisitalia 202 model was exhibited at the MoMA in 1972, the first car to bear the honorary title of sculpture in movement. Despite not being able to impose itself on the first Millemiglia after the war in 1947, the 202 proved to be as quick and competitive -and superior in reliability- as the other two big houses present with completely new models: the Ferrari 125s and the Maserati A6 GCS.
As known Piero Dusio worked financially and politically to encourage the exit from the French prisons of Ferdinand Porsche and Anton Piëch, both detained for war crimes, obtaining the esteem and favors of Ferry Porsche, at that time engaged with the project of 356. The union between the two producers stimulated the birth of the 360, conceived as a Grand Prix car to beat the Alfa Romeo 158, at the time the undisputed queen of racing. The project saw the participation of the major engineers of the house of Stuttgart and Carlo Abarth, but did not achieve the desired results: the 12-cylinder boxer -1500 cm and 500 cv- had to deal with the company’s serious financial crisis, still indebted due to the redemption paid. After various financial vicissitudes and numerous attempts at rebirth by Carlo Dusio, son of the founder, the company definitively closed its doors in 1962.
There is still a lot to be said, especially about the 202 and its many one-off, but the purpose of the article was a humble overview of the history of a small Scuderia in Turin that has simply improved the world with beautiful cars.
Symbolically, with the latest failure, Carlo threw the 360’s crankshaft into the Po, but more than diving in the rivers, the Cisitalias are today among the most sought-after cars by collectors all over the world. The superb design, the resistant mechanics and the undoubted pedigree make these cars one of the most suitable for historical racing and it is not rare to see them still runiing in the 1000miglia, where they deserved to win more than seventy years ago.
Thanks to Pininfarina photos
And we should also thank for having made the history of the car with Cisitalia