Sold for $2,645,000 at 2019 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach.
Chassis #: 0451
Engine #: 0453
The Isotta-Fraschini was named after its founders Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini on January 27, 1900. Before building their first motorcar in 1904, Isotta and Fraschini had assembled Renaults. The first Isotta-Fraschini had a four-cylinder, 24 horsepower engine and was driven by Vincenzoin in several races. A 17.2-liter car was entered in the Coppa Florio in 1905, and bigger and more powerful cars followed.
Isotta-Fraschini built three of these Tipo IM models for Indianapolis in 1913 and 1914. After the 1914 race, this car was put away unit it was found in the 1950s by Whitney Snyder and restored. Isotta-Fraschini racing cars were driven by both Enzo Ferrari and Alfieri Maserati before they started their own car companies.
This 1913 Isotta Fraschini Tipo IM is powered by a four-cylinder engine with single overhead camshafts, 16 valves, a single Zenith Updraft carburetor, a 7,238cc displacement, and develops 135 horsepower at 2,350 RPM. There is a four-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes.
The design of the IM was largely based on the KM and TM models and powered by the 7.2-liter engine, allowing it to comply with American racing regulations. Horsepower was increased by approximately fifty percent and the four-wheel braking system was also greatly improved over the previous TM and KM models.
The three Tipo IMs completed in time to contest the Indianapolis 500 were transported to Le Havre, France, where, on April 29, they were loaded onto the Lusitania. They arrived in New York on May 24 and were sent to Indianapolis by express train. The team of factory Isotta Fraschini drivers included Vincenzo Trucco, American racer 'Terrible' Teddy Tetzlaff, and two-time Vanderbilt Cup winner Harry Grant. Ray Gilhooley of New York was hired as a relief driver.
The three Tipo IM models had been hastily prepared in the midst of a labor strike and this proved to be their Achilles heel, with all three cars succumbing to minor mechanical trouble. Grant's car was the first of the race, completing just 14 laps before a split gas tank forced him to retire. Trucco followed on Lap 39 with the same issue. Tetzlaff completed 118 of the 120 laps before a broken drive chain ended his race.
After the race, the car driven by Tetzlaff was returned to Isotta Fraschini Motors in New York, where it was modified and prepared for a return to Indianapolis in 1914. The streamlined rear bodywork was removed, revealing the troublesome, riveted gas tank. Two additional hood scoops were added to improve engine cooling and a streamlined shroud was placed ahead of the flat radiator.
The car returned to the Indianapolis 500 in 1914 where it was driven by Ray Gilhooley. This time the car only made it 41 laps before a tire blowout in Turn 3 brought an end to its escapade. The blowout ensnared the drive chain, causing the car to spin wildly, ejecting both the driver and riding mechanic, and rollover before landing on its tires in the infield.
After the race, the car returned to New York, where lights and fenders were added. The car was advertised for sale in The New York Times in March of 1917 and was sold later that year to Claude Worthington Benedum, whose father, Michael, was America's most successful oil wildcatter and one of the country's wealthiest residents. Soon after the purchase, Claude enlisted to fight in World War I, was trained as a pilot, and tragically lost his life to pneumonia in October of 1918, at the age of 20. The Isotta Fraschini sports car was put into the stables of the family's Pittsburgh estate.
After Michael Benedum's passing in 1959, the estate sold the Isotta Fraschini to Whitney Snyder of Sewickley. During the 1960s, Mr. Snyder commissioned Thurman Schreil of Lawrence, Kansas, to restore the Isotta. The finished car wore a light gray exterior with red leather upholstery and fitted with period accessories that included chain guards, a full set of brass lamps, and a monocle windscreen.
The car remained in the Snyder collection until the mid-1970s when it entered to care of Willet H. Brown of Los Angeles. It remained with him until his death in 1993. The car was acquired from the Willet Brown estate auction in 1995 and given a restoration to its 1914 Indy 500 configuration. In 2019, the car returned to auction where it found new ownership.