Piero Dusio’s attempt to build road cars resulted in just 170 units, but each was a classic. For a short period Dusio created excitement and he left the world of the motorcar better than he found it. He deserves an honored place in history.
Many regard the Cisitalia 202 Gran Sport Berlinetta as the first modern GT car. In 1951 New York’s Museum of Modern Art declared it to be one of the eight most beautiful cars ever made and bought one to put on permanent display. It still figures on most people’s list of the most beautiful cars and it may be considered to be Pinin Farina’s masterpiece in the original sense of the word: a piece of work which elevated an excellent artist to the status of a maestro.
Some of the styling points can be seen in other Farina bodies, such as some he did for Maserati, but with the Gran Sport he introduced bolder sweeps and curves. The area of glass is unusually large for the day, the use of chromium plated brightwork is elegantly restrained, and there are typical Farina touches such as flush door handles.
Apart from the fact that the slippery body contributed to the car’s outstanding performance, it also had a profound influence on other stylists and one can see key points reflected in many other designs.
Unusually, the car pictured here was bodied by Vignale to the Farina design. At the time such cross-fertilization was not uncommon among Italian coachbuilders and the reason is that this was one of three special cars commissioned by the Italian Cisitalia agent, Lombardi & Kolliker. One of the three, which was fitted with a six-cylinder Fiat engine, has since been demolished and the other was destroyed by fire.
This car is therefore unique and is upholstered in pigskin with a special shortthrow gear lever; originally a set of fitted luggage in pigskin was supplied but unfortunately these have long been lost. It has the advanced spaceframe which characterized all of Dusio’s cars and is fitted with a single-carburetor engine.
It is in original condition, with its original (optional) wire wheels and condor Ultraplat radio. It is registered in Italy and Italian taxes have been paid. It has been the property of a great enthusiast for 24 years, while being used only rarely in recent times. It was offered for sale because of the owner’s advancing years.
Only 153 Cisitalia 202 Grand Sport Berlinettas were made before Piero Dusio closed his factories (he did not go bankrupt). Given the price (it was nearly double that of the Jaguar XK120) it is remarkable that a new company made so many, but while other small European makers made some interesting cars, Cisitalia made only classics.
Abarth was making derivatives of the basic design (the Abarth 207) as late as 1956, and so advanced and sweet was the chassis that they were still competitive. No other 1947 design was still in competition in 1956.
Cisitalia occupies a place in motoring history out of all proportion to the numbers built and these rare cars come onto the market only rarely.