High bid of $1,450,000 at 2012 RM Auctions. (did not sell) In its aim to be considered amongst the very best automotive manufacturers in the world, Isotta-Fraschini would perform an all-out assault during its early years of existence. However, at the conclusion of World War I, the company would rely on just one, and there was very good reason why.
In 1900, Societa Milanese Automobili Isotta, Fraschini & Co. would be founded. In its early days, in order to get its feet wet in the automobile manufacturing business, the company would be employed building Renaults. However, after just a couple of years, Isotta-Fraschini would be ready to begin construction of its own chassis.
In that day and age in Europe there seemed just one direction a company could go to help its name achieve fame, recognition and improve upon designs and innovations and that was by going racing. Therefore, those early years of the company's existence would be spent conceiving and building high-horsepower models meant to duel with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and others. It was clear the company could build successful models as Isotta-Fraschini would score victory in the 1908 Targa Florio.
Victories in races like the Targa Florio would result from some of the early innovations the company would introduce to automobiles, which would include four-wheel brakes, and, just prior to the outbreak of World War I, the first series boasting of an inline eight cylinder engine.
In 1912, Isotta-Fraschini would introduce to the world the first inline eight cylinder engine model car. The car would be quite popular and successful, but the Great War was just a couple of years away and the tensions were already growing quite palpable.
The price of World War I would be terribly high and the fallout from the war would be terrible in war-torn Europe. Therefore, Isotta-Fraschini would turn from its numerous models and sizes of engines and, instead, would focus almost entirely on its popular inline eight cylinder engine and its Tipo 8 that it would introduce in 1919.
The Tipo 8 would be very impressive car when it was introduced. Anchored by the inline eight cylinder engine capable of producing a very respectable amount of power for its time and many luxury refinements, the Tipo 8 would become a very popular model for Isotta-Fraschini.
While Isotta-Fraschini would be the first to introduce the inline eight cylinder engine in a motor car, the coachbuilder Carrozzeria Castagna would be just as identifiable with Isotta-Fraschini. Carrozzeria Castagnia would offer custom-appointed coaches for many of the major manufacturers and would be well known for their work designing and building coaches for Alfa Romeo's 8C and numerous Mercedes-Benz models. However, the long inline eight cylinder engine powering the Tipo 8 was the perfect fit for the coachbuilder. As a result, the iconic long hood and cowl that would become the signature of the Tipo 8 would be born.
There was still more that the company could do with its Tipo 8. Isotta-Fraschini would introduce its 8A with its increased engine output. However, the engine would be tuned all the more and the 8AS, the 'S' signifying a tuned engine, would be introduced. The 8AS wasn't a straight-forward increase in engine performance. The 'S' would only be added when the ordered car boasted of the updated 120 bhp 7.4-liter eight cylinder engine, a short wheelbase chassis, a rather high final-drive ratio and lightweight coachwork.
Given all that was involved in an 8AS model, Isotta-Fraschini would help advise the customer concerning certain elements but as with many other manufacturers of the time, the car would be entirely built to the customer's taste. One such Tipo 8AS that would be built would be chassis 1581.
Chassis 1581 would be completed in 1930 and would emerge from Carrozzeria Castagna bearing an 8AS Boattail Cabriolet coachwork. It would obviously come with the 120 bhp 7.4-liter eight cylinder engine along with a three-speed manual transmission. Suspension would be comprised of a solid front axle riding on a semi-elliptic leaf springs. The rear axle would consist of a semi-floating design. Four-wheel Dewandre vacuum servo-assisted drum brakes provided the stopping power.
When the car was constructed by Castagna, the body would be comprised entirely of aluminum and would be broken down into smaller panels to comprise the whole of the body. The vast majority of the coach body is still adorned with the very same aluminum as when it left the factory and shows very little aging and deterioration. The actual finish of the car, which it still retains, was a green-grey livery with darker forest green pinstripes.
The sweeping fenders of this Boattail Cabriolet would be interrupted by a rather interesting design feature not readily seen on other designs. On either side of the car are teardrop-shaped step plates that actually double as storage lockers. As with the beautifully-light touches of chrome over the whole of the car, the step plate/storage lockers would be accented with varnished wood and blend beautifully into the rear wheel arches. The same kind of subtle touch would be incorporated into the small steps meant to allow access to the rumble seat. On the driver's side of the car there are three, small wooden steps wrapped in chrome. Though a very necessary and function piece of the car they would be designed and placed in such a way so as to nearly blend in to the overall design of the car.
The early history of 1581 is relatively unknown. However, it would be anything but anonymous come the late-1970s. In either the late-1970s, or the early 1980s, this Tipo 8AS would become the property of the famous tenor Sergio Franchi. A photograph of around that time shows the car appearing as if new. The car would, however, undergo some restoration work but would be put on display at Pebble Beach in 1983. The car would remain with Franchi for more than two decades before it would come to be the property of its current owner.
To update the condition of the car, Byron Libbey of Libbey Restorations would be contracted to refresh the car. Much attention would be given to the chassis, suspension and coachwork. The engine would even be torn down partially. However, the engine would be found to be in excellent condition and would be reassembled after only some minor cosmetic adjustments.
All of the chrome would be re-plated, which would include the six wire wheels, the Stephen Grebel headlights, spotlight, bumpers, radiator stone guard and many other plated elements used throughout the car.
And if the exterior is something special to behold, then the interior could only be described as beyond description. The cloth top is clean, the grey headliner is in great condition. Everywhere one looks, the interior is filled with subtle, and yet, tasteful elements including oval etched glass courtesy lights, wooden-inlaid locking glove boxes, split windshield, glass ashtrays and an individually-adjustable single front bench seat. The green carpet interior and leather upholstery is beautifully accented by the inlaid wood throughout the instrument panel and the in the doors on either side.
Given that one of the largest markets for Isotta-Fraschini had been the United States it would not be all that surprising when the gear lever and other knobs can be found with both Italian and English markings. In fact, the plaque on the dash would indicate that chassis 1581 would actually be delivered by Isotta Motors Inc. via New York City.
An absolutely beautiful car inside and out, Libbey's restoration work would go on to earn the car a Second in Class at Pebble Beach in 2009 and a Best of Show award at the Newport Concours d'Elegance. Included with numerous photographs and awards, this Tipo 8AS Boattail Cabriolet, chassis 1581, would be offered by RM Auctions in Monterey in 2012. Estimated to draw between $1,750,000 and $2,500,000, this rare and elegant Tipo 8AS certainly honors the Isotta-Fraschini reputation and is an exceptional example of one of the few 8AS models that would certainly fit the moniker 'The Aristocrat of Automobiles.'
Sources: 'Lot No. 219: 1930 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8AS Boattail Cabriolet by Carrozzeria Castagna', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=MO12&CarID=r161). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=MO12&CarID=r161. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
'1928 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8AS News, Pictures and Information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z10057/Isotta-Fraschini-Tipo-8-AS.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z10057/Isotta-Fraschini-Tipo-8-AS.aspx. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
'1929 Isotta-Fraschini 8A', (http://www.supercars.net/cars/3107.html). Supercars.net. http://www.supercars.net/cars/3107.html. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
'Isotta Fraschini', (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/features/isotta-fraschini-438970.html). The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/features/isotta-fraschini-438970.html. Retrieved 3 August 2012. By Jeremy McMullen
The Tipo 8 was powered by a 5.9-liter eight-cylinder engine capable of producing 100 horsepower. They were clothed in elegant bodies and purchased mostly by the rich and famous. Their engines made them one of the most powerful cars of their era and they were the United States second most popular foreign manufacturer, right behind Rolls-Royce.
The Tipo 8A was introduced in 1924 which brought with it a larger engine, now displacing 7.3-liters and produced around 120 horsepower. The bodies sat atop a 145-inch wheelbase. An 'S' and 'SS' version was available, which were sportier versions which sat on a shorter wheelbase, measuring 134-inches. The factory guaranteed the cars could reach 90 mph. This package was expensive, and it was one of the most expensive cars on the road.
This example is a Isotta Fraschini 8A SS Convertible Torpedo Sedan with coachwork by Castagna. It was brought to the United States where it remained in the ownership of an American lawyer for over 25 years. It has recently returned to Europe and in the care of a resident of Milano, Italy. The car has been treated to a complete restoration and made its debut at the 2006 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. It was awarded Coppa d'Oro for Best in Show by public vote. Later in the year it was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2007
Sold for $330,000 at 2007 RM Auctions. Sold for $467,500 at 2008 RM Auctions. High bid of £165,000 at 2009 RM Auctions. (did not sell) High bid of $240,000 at 2009 RM Auctions. (did not sell) Sold for $1,040,486 (€931,500) at 2015 Bonhams. Cesare Isotta and the Fraschini brothers Vincenzo, Antonio and Oreste began their careers in the automotive industry by importing French cars to be assembled in Italy. In 1904 the Societa Milanese Automobili Isotta Company was formed. In 1905 engineer Giustino Cattaneo was hired as technical director and in time, would come to be known as one of the greatest Italian engineers of all time.
The Isotta-Fraschini had an early interest in racing and helped secure a strong reputation throughout the industry. It helped promote their products and prove they were reliable and competitive.
The first race Isotta-Fraschini race car created by Giustino Cattaneo was the Tipo-D. It had a four-cylinder engine that displaced a massive 1,050 cubic-inches. It failed to finish the first lap of its first race but it did teach Cattaneo that power was not the only ingredient in winning races.
In 1906, the Isotta-Fraschini company was ranked second (Fiat was number one) as Italy's largest producers of automobiles. Fiat produced 1,800 vehicles and in a distant second was Isotta-Fraschini with 300. It was an achievement for the young company.
Inspired by racing, the company began work on a four-wheel braking system to improve the cars performance. The results of their work was displaced at the 1910 Paris Auto Salon on one of their vehicles. Front-wheel braking was not an excepted practice at the time and was believed by many to create uncontrollable situations and instability at speed. The system created by Cattaneo was different than attempts of the past; it was inherently balanced and provided equal braking force to the front wheels no matter the steering input or position.
In the post-War era, Isotta-Fraschini introduced the Tipo 8/50. Many believe that the Giustino Cattaneo-designed engine was the world's first production inline eight-cylinder engine. During this time period, the Isotta-Fraschini business shifted; instead of making many different types of vehicles, they focused solely on becoming a single model car company that catered to the luxury car segment.
The Tipo 8 was succeeded by the Tipo 8A. It had light alloy pistons, drop forged connecting rods, overhead valves, and a ten main bearing crankshaft. This made the engine powerful, smooth and very reliable. Large drum brakes were married to each wheel and fitted with a vacuum servo booster that helped bring these large cars to a stop quickly from high speeds. The standard wheelbase size was 145.6-inches and was comprised of heavy gauge stamped steel. The wheelbase size could be lengthened to 157.5-inches to accommodate limousine coachwork.
Isotta-Fraschini chassis were bodied by only the best coachbuilders of the era. One such coachbuilder was based in Milan and had a history that dates back to the 1830s. It was Castagna and was a favorite among royalty long before they produced coachwork for automobiles.
This vehicle is a 1930 Isotta-Frasschini 8A Convertible Sedan with coachwork by Castagna. It was originally imported to the US through Isotta Motors Inc., New York. It has been fully restored since new and finished in a two-tone red paint scheme. The fenders and beltline are slightly darker red than the rest of the body. Gold striping can be found along the bodylines.
In 2008 this 1930 Isotta-Fraschini 8A Convertible Sedan by Castagna was brought to RM Auctions 'Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook' where it was estimated to sell for $400,000-$600,000. As bidding came to a close, the lot had been sold for $467,500 including buyer's premium.
In 2009, this Tipo 8A was offered for sale at the Automobiles of Amelia Island Auction presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $400,000 - $500,000. If failed to sell as its reserve was not met by the high bid of $240,000. By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2009
High bid of $1,450,000 at 2012 RM Auctions. (did not sell) After importing French cars to Italy for a couple years, Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini formed Isotta Fraschini in 1902. When introduced in 1919, the Tipo 8 was the first car to enter serious production with a straight eight engine. Fitted with graceful and stylish bodies, the Isotta Fraschinis were popular with the world's rich and famous. In the United States Isotta Fraschini was the second most popular foreign marque, beaten only by Rolls-Royce. In 1924 the slightly revised Tipo 8A was introduced, which featured a larger and more powerful engine. The new 7.3-liter unit was capable of delivering 120 bhp. This particular Tipo 8A short-wheelbase SS was delivered to the United States complete with its striking Castagna coachwork.
Established as an automaker in 1902 by Cesare Isotta and the brothers Fraschini (Oreste, Vincenzo and Antonio), from around 1920 to the early 1930s Isottas were more popular in the Únited States than any other foreign marque except for Rolls-Royce. One of the world's most innovative automakers, IF introduced four wheel brakes in 1909, and the Tipo 8 series, unveiled in August 1912, featured an in-line eight cylinder engine, the first of its type put into series production anywhere in the world. The Tipo 8A series, introduced in 1924, offered 115hp, a redesigned frame and suspension and Isotta's highly regarded three-speed synchromesh transmission. (posted on conceptcarz.com) In America, where nearly a third of Isottas were sold, the price of an 8A exceeded even that of a Model J Duesenberg; a chassis alone was priced at $9,750, and coachbuilt models were demanding upwards of $20,000.
The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A had the most powerful production straight eight engine when it was introduced in the mid-1920s. Most models were mounted on a very long 145 wheelbase chassis. There was an original guarantee that these cars would do 90mph, wîth the capability of running at both 90mph and 6mph in the same gear. About 950 Tipo 8As were built during the 1925-1931 model run. By 1931 the company was struggling as the Great Depression in the ÚSA had severely affected sales of expensive vehicles. Thus, in order to boost sales, the company introduced a new model, the Tipo 8B.
The company was nearly saved by Henry Ford who was anxious to produce Isottas in Detroit and have his cars built in Italy, but the Italian government blocked this deal. Instead in 1932 the aircraft maker Count Caproni di Talideo, who considered the aero engines as indispensable for his own business, acquired the company. Car production virtually ceased that year and apart from a brief attempt at a rear engined V8 vehicle in the post-war period, Isotta Fraschini disappeared as a car manufacturer.Source - Christie's Inc.
In 1902, Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini created the Isotta Fraschini Company. This decision was made after years of successfully importing French vehicles to Italy. Automobile production was very new and this led to the creation of hundreds of independent automobile producers world-wide. It was also a very unique time in history since the automotive market was evolving, and so were the designs. This was true for the Isotta Fraschini Company, and they were rewarded for their unique creations by continued success. The elegantly designed automobiles were popular with the rich clientele. Their creations were reliable, stylish, and quick. At Targa Florio in 1908, one of their automobiles won.
In 1912 the Isotta Fraschini Company introduced a straight eight cylinder engine but would not go into production until 1919 due to World War I. During the war, the Company shifted its resource to building airplane engines. When the war was over, the eight-cylinder engine was used to power their Tipo 8, making it the first straight-eight cylinder engine to go into production. The 5.9-liter engine was capable of producing 100 horsepower, an extremely difficult accomplishment at the time.
In 1924, the engine capacity of the engine was increased to 7.3 liters, giving the vehicle between 110 and 120 horsepower depending on the configuration. The name was modified to reflect this change and was dubbed the 8A. The company claimed the vehicle could accelerate to a top speed of 90 miles-per-hour.
The vehicle could be had in a variety of flavors and sizes. The standard model sat atop a 145 inch wheelbase while a sportier version was fitted with a 134 inch wheelbase. The price to own one of these magnificent creations was not cheap, weighing in around $20,000.
In 1931 a four-speed gearbox and a refined engine was introduced and the name was changed to 8B. As with most businesses at this time, the Great Depression and a second World War had taken its toll on the company. The company had shifted focus to creating airplane and marine engines during World War II. After the war, several efforts were made to jump-start the vehicle production but all attempts failed. The factory was forced to close. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2006
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