The ability to create successful racing cars has been part of ow Italian genetic makeup since the dawn of the automobile age, and one of the lesser-known success stories is that is that of the Cisitalia D46, which flowered briefly in the years immediately following World War II.
The D46 was designed and built by Dante Giacosa, using Fiat components modified for racing, and was intended for a series featuring only D46s where driver performance rather than the best car performance would be the decisive factor.
Cisitalia also commissioned road cars from leading designers. Battista Farina created a stunning shape for the handcrafted two-door Cisitalia 202 Gran Sport, a technical triumph and aesthetic tour de force that transformed postwar car design. This innovative masterpiece was chosen to feature in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s first automobile exhibition in 1951. Built on a wooden frame, the 202’s aluminum body was conceived as an integrated shell seamlessly incorporating the top, bonnet and wings with in-built headlights.
This created a look that would be followed by makers of high-performance GT coupes, like early Ferraris also designed by Pinin Farina. It was soon joined by a companion spider cabriolet by Vignale. The 202 was light, fast and fun to drive, but unfortunately the cost was prohibitive and too few sporty customers could be found in Italy, let alone beyond. Looks alone were not enough and only 170 examples were made, including just 17 cabriolets.
Variants of the 202 were built for competition purposes —including the famous red 202 SMM (for Spider Mille Miglia) roadster that starred in the 1947 race, driven by the great, Tazio Nuvolari. It won its class and finished second overall, attracting enough attention to ensure that Farina produced some 20 examples for eager would-be racers.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1947 (until 1952)
1,089 cc Straight Four
PERFORMANCE: Top speed of 105 mph (169 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Cisitalia business conglomerate was controlled by industrialist Piero Dusio, a sportsman who competed in the 1952 Italian Formula One world championship race driving one of his own Cisitalia D46s – but sadly he failed to qualify and attempts to create a proper Grand Prix car bankrupted the company.