Italian born Piero Dusio was an individual who had a soccer career, a successful business, and a race car driver. His days as a soccer player were ended by a knee injury. After the injury, he started a textile business, which evolved into sporting goods and even military uniforms.
Soon after embarking on his new business, he began racing. His endeavors in the sport were on the elite stages of the era. He contested the Mille Miglia from 1928 through 1938 with a victory in 1937 while driving a Siata 500cc. He raced in the 1936 Italian Grand Prix, and in 1939 he formed the Scuderia Torino.
After the Second World War, Dusio embarked on an ambitious plan to build cars. One of his earliest creations was the Fiat 1100-based Cisitalia 202. It was designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi and Dante Giacosa.
When the Mille Miglia resumed in post-War times, in 1947, Dusio entered several of his 1100cc Cisitalis. They managed an impressive 2nd through 4th place with the 2nd place finisher just 16 minutes behind Biondetti's Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 driven by the legendary Tazio Nuvolari.
Several variants of the 202 were produced, including the SMM Nuvolari Spider named after a class victory at the 1947 Mille Miglia. Another variation was a mid-engine Grand Prix racer designed by Ferdinand Porsche. This twin-supercharged, flat-twelve racer cost Dusio nearly emptied Dusio's bank account. It was only shown at the 1949 Turin Auto Show and never used in competition.
Dusio's son, Carlo, saw an opportunity to keep the company afloat by using American components to construct a line of vehicles intended for the North American market. A prototype was shown to Henry Ford II, who endorsed the concept and gave the project to his brother-in-law, Ed Sullivan. A second series of prototypes were commissioned based on Ford platforms. Two examples were built by the legendary coachbuilder, Vignale. One was a coupe and the other a convertible.
By this point in history, Carlo Dusio had lost his vision and Ford was moving in another direction. They were preparing their plants for the two-seater Thunderbird. The Cisitalia 808XF project came to a close.
Ed Sullivan used the convertible 808XF prototype as his daily-driver for a number of years. The car is powered by a Ford 312 cubic-inch law-enforcement engine that offers 225 horsepower. There is a three-speed automatic gearbox and is left-hand drive.