1954 Pegaso Z-102 Cabriolet

Chip Riegel, courtesy of Gooding & Company
Chip Riegel, courtesy of Gooding & Company

That Spanish truck manufacturer ENASA should have built one of the most exotic sports grand touring cars of the early 1950s seems rather improbable. However, it becomes somewhat more understandable when you learn that the company’s chief technical manager’s last position was Chief Engineer, Special Projects, for Alfa Romeo from 1936 to 1944. Wifredo Ricart was often criticized for the complexity of the vehicles he designed, but in the case of the Pegaso sports car, that attribute was very much the aim.

To showcase the skills of the company’s engineers and workers and to establish a level of credibility for the heavy-truck products, the sophistication of the Pegaso Z-102 would demonstrate to the world that Spain could produce a high-performance car with advanced features to match any other such vehicles in the world — and surpass most, especially the cars from up-and-coming manufacturer Ferrari.

The engine was an alloy 4-cam, dry sump, desmodromic-valve V8 — connected to a 5-speed transaxle — so it was clear that this was no ordinary car of the time. The chassis were wrapped in hand-built coachwork from leading Italian and French firms, including Carrozzeria Touring and Saoutchik, as well as some designed and built in-house by ENASA.

Beginning at a displacement of 2.5 liters, the engine was developed into 2.8- and 3.2-liter versions during the production life of the Z-102. The most powerful of these was a supercharged 3.2-liter unit which produced a prodigious 360 horsepower. Top speeds ranging from 120 to 160 mph were possible — depending on the engine. The Pegaso Z-102 handily outperformed almost any other road-going GT car of the early to mid-1950s.

The car we offer, chassis 0136, is a very dramatic Z-102 cabriolet bodied by Saoutchik of Paris. It is thought to be the only Series II cabriolet built; however, in the preparation of the newly released exhaustive history of Saoutchik by historians Peter M. Larsen and Ben Erikson, it is suggested that this vehicle is actually one of the somewhat more attractive Series III cars due to various details of the body shape and trim. In any event, it would also be the sole Series III cabriolet as well.

It is said that the original owner of chassis 0136 felt the open car was a bit too flexible for the type of driving he enjoyed on the less-than-perfect roads of 1950s Spain. He therefore had his Pegaso made into a coupe in 1958. The bodywork remained in this style until the early 1990s, when it was restored as the cabriolet it had been at creation.

It appeared at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA, as part of the 2011 “Supercars — When Too Much is Almost Enough” exhibition and was purchased by the vendor in 2013. While the Pegaso was still very attractively presented, the vendor felt the need to give the car a thorough new restoration to meet his particular high standards.

The exacting work was carried out by noted Automotive Restorations Inc. of Stamford, CT, overseen by Kent Bain and Charlie Weber with historian Peter Larsen providing consultation as well.