Commendatore Salvador Ruffino was an Italian Triumph importer and the individual behind the creation of the Italia 2000 GT. He believed a market existed for an Italian coachbuilt car built atop British engineering. Zagato and a number of other carrozzeria provided designs, but it was the young Giovanni Michelotti creation that caught Ruffino's attention. The two-door coupe was built atop a chassis supplied by Standard-Triumph, with the earliest example known as the 'slope-nosed prototype.' It was shown at the 1958 Turin Motor Show where it was well-received by the public and media. A second prototype was built with several changes to the exterior, the most visual being a revised roofline and front end. The changes had been the result of real-world road tests which highlighted some handling issues.
The first thirteen examples were assembled by Vignale while the remaining cars were built by Ruffino on an assembly line he leased from Vignale. Most of the cars built by Vignale had additional Vignale badging and script. Ruffino began full production in December of 1959 with only minor changes from the Vignale-built cars, most notably being the badging. The car's name also changed from the 'Triumph Italia' to the 'Italia 2000.'
The Italias were built with steel bodywork and aluminum for a few internal panels. The mechanical components were based on the TR3 which had disc brakes and a front suspension comprised of double A-arms, manganese bronze trunnion, coil springs, and tube shocks. The rear setup was conventional with leaf springs, a solid axle, and lever arm dampers.
The Standard wet liner inline four-cylinder OHV engine displaced 1991cc, had SU-H6 carburetors, and delivered 100 horsepower. A four-speed manual gearbox sent power to the rear wheels, and steering was handled by a peg steering system.
Ruffino had hoped to build 1,000 cars, with distribution worldwide, including the lucrative American marketplace. Standard-Triumph was to supply chassis and mechanical components to build 1,000 examples, and a verbal agreement required every Triumph dealer to purchase an Italia. At the time, there were 720 Triumph dealers. This verbal contract was never honored as Standard-Triumph was taken over by Leyland Motors in 1961 who felt it more prudent to focus on the new TR4 to be released in 1962. The TR4 had also been designed by Michelotti which shared many design cues and elements with the Italia.
Approximately 329 cars were built from mid-1959 to mid-1962. After a six-month halt in production, the final 30 cars were built on the TR3B chassis.
After Triumph announced it would not distribute the cars, Ruffino S.p.A. re-badged the car as the Italia 2000. The Italia was never an official model of Standard-Triumph. by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2020
The Italia 2000 GT was the concept of Commendatore Salvador Ruffino, an Italian Triumph importer. He wanted to create a sports coupe with the proven reliability of British engineering and the design artistry of the contemporary Italian coachbuilders.....[continue reading]
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