ORIGINAL ISOTTA FRASCHINI JOINS THE BONHAMS LONDON TO BRIGHTON VETERAN CAR RUN
ORIGINAL ISOTTA FRASCHINI JOINS THE BONHAMS LONDON TO BRIGHTON VETERAN CAR RUN By: London to Brighton Veteran Car Run Italian motoring pioneer, once given by Mussolini to America, makes its first ever appearance in the UK
A unique veteran car that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini once donated to the Henry Ford Museum will be making a guest appearance as a special invited entry on the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday, 1 November.
Historically significant, the 1901 Isotta Fraschini is chassis number one, the very first car to wear the famous 'IF' badge.
At that time the Milan-based company, which had been started by Cesare Isotta and brothers Vincenzo, Antonio and Oreste Fraschini, assembled and sold Renault cars in Italy.
Although now best known for its powerful racing cars and the luxury limousines built until the end of the Second World War, Fraschini's first car was a more modest machine.
A small two-seater voiturette, chassis number one was powered by a single cylinder De Dion Bouton engine, as used in the contemporary Renault Type D so familiar to the company. But curiously, the car was never given any bodywork.
It was in this state – a rolling chassis – in 1931 when it was donated to Henry Ford's famous museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
The company explained the donation of this 'dear and precious document of (our) mechanics' by saying it 'could not find a more suitable and worthy seat than the one of the Ford Museum in Detroit, which has been created by the prodigious faith of a man who has dedicated his whole life to the mechanical automobile industry.'
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In fact, it turned out that it had not been quite so freely given by Isotta Fraschini – the donation had been ordered by Mussolini who was trying to entice Ford to start producing cars in Italy. An idea that Fiat quickly stopped.
And the museum appears to have been a little bemused by the donation. Although the chassis was put on display for a while, it spent most of its time in America stored in the museum's vaults before being sold in the 1980s.
In 2014, however, it was bought by an Italian collector who made sure the chassis came home after 83 years away. Aside from getting the engine to run after decades of silence, the car has not been restored in any way. It remains a rolling chassis and wears 'the coat of time' according to its owner.
So that it can be driven on the Run, however, it has been fitted with a pair of wicker seats mounted on a removable frame allowing it to be quickly returned to its original state.
Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Veteran Car Run Steering Group, said: 'This is a truly remarkable machine. The very first Isotta Fraschini ever built, it is exactly as it left the factory 114 years ago. It has never before been seen in the UK, so its appearance on this year's Run is something very special indeed.'
More information on the Run can be found at www.veterancarrun.com.
The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is the pinnacle event in a week of motoring in the capital during 'London Motor Week' – a series of events hosted by the world famous Royal Automobile Club which also includes the Motoring Forum, the Motoring Lectures and the Regent Street Motor Show.
About Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
With its unique atmosphere and camaraderie, the Bonhams Veteran Car Run travelling from London to Brighton (staged specifically as a non-profit making veneration) commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896, which celebrated the Locomotives on the Highway Act. The Act raised the speed limit for 'light locomotives' from 4 to 14mph, and abolished the need for these vehicles to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag.
The Emancipation Run was first commemorated in 1897 with a re-enactment following the same route in 1927 and has taken place every November since, with the exception of the war years and 1947 when petrol was rationed. The Royal Automobile Club has managed the Run with the support of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain since 1930.
About London Motor Week
The Veteran Car Run is an integral part of London Motor Week, which in 2015 incorporates the following events:
◾Monday 26 October – Royal College of Art - Design Presentation Evening
◾Tuesday 27 October – The Royal Automobile Club Motoring Lectures and the Art of Motoring Exhibition
◾Wednesday 28 October – Motoring Book of the Year Awards
◾Thursday 29 October – Royal Automobile Club Motoring Forum
◾Friday 30 October – Bonhams Auction
◾Saturday 31 October – Regent Street Motor Show
◾Sunday 1 November – Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
About The Royal Automobile Club
The Royal Automobile Club was founded in 1897 and its distinguished history mirrors that of motoring itself. In 1907, the Club was awarded its Royal title by King Edward VII, sealing the Club's status as Britain's oldest and most influential motoring organisation.
The Club's early years were focused on promoting the motor car and its place in society, which developed into motoring events such as the 1000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900. In 1905, the Club held the first Tourist Trophy, which remains the oldest continuously competed for motor sports event. The Club promoted the first pre-war and post-war Grands Prix at Brooklands in 1926 and Silverstone in 1948 respectively, whilst continuing to campaign for the rights of the motorist, including introducing the first driving licences.
Today, the Club continues to develop and support automobilism through representation on the Motor Sport Association (MSA), Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and RAC Foundation, while continuing to promote its own motoring events, such as the free-to-attend Regent Street Motor Show and the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
The Royal Automobile Club also awards a series of historic trophies and medals celebrating motoring achievements. These include the Segrave Trophy, the Tourist Trophy, the Simms Medal, the Dewar Trophy and the Torrens Trophy.
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