The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8 series engine was designed by chief engineer Giustino Cattaneo during World War I and introduced with the new Tipo 8 chassis in August 1919. The Tipo 8 was followed in 1925 by the Tipo 8A, with an engine enlarged to 7.3-liters, and this in turn was followed by the highly tuned 160 horsepower Tipo 8A SS.
The Isotta Fraschini factory made only the chassis and bodies were produced by specialty coachbuilders such Fleetwood, LeBaron and in this case Castagna.
This is one of the Isotta Fraschini 8As built by Castagna with cabriolet-style 'Commodore' coachwork similar to that of the Isotta Fraschini displayed at the Commodore Hotel in 1928. That exhibition was organzed as part of Isotta Fraschini's efforts to boost exports. Ten of these Commodores were built for American customers in ensuing years.
This example was acquired by its current caretakers in 1966. It had been purchased completely disassembled. It features the distinctive Cobra radiator mascot that was designed in 1925 for Adolph Zukor at Paramount Studios to publicize the silent movie Cobra, starring Rudolph Valentino; that mascot was first given to Valentino for his own Isotta Fraschini. Several American Isotta Fraschini owners then ordered a similar mascot to adorn their own 8A radiators, many of which also bear distinctive radiator stone guards.
The car is powered by a 450 cubic inch overhead-valve in-line 8-cylinder engine developing 150-160 horsepower. It is capable of at least 90 miles-per-hour.
The current owners are the third generation of the family to show this Isotta Fraschini at Pebble Beach.
Several Hollywood stars purchased Isotta-Fraschini automobiles including Rudolph Valentino. The Cobra ornament was made for Rudolph Valentino by United Artist Studios to promote the movie 'The Cobra'.
The 8B was the last model produced as luxury vehicles succumbed to the Great Depression of the 1930s.