1961 Cisitalia DF85 Coupe

{vsig}2010-9_2524{/vsig}Established by Piero Dusio in 1939, Consorzio Industriale Sportiva Italia manufactured and sold a variety of sporting goods. After World War II, Dusio built a number of Fiat-powered racing cars using the extended acronym Cisitalia, and branched out into passenger cars in 1947.

The Cisitalia 202 had a space frame with Fiat 1100 mechanicals, and as bodied by Pinin Farina, was one of the classic designs of all time, becoming the only automobile in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Bankrupt by 1949, Dusio decamped for Argentina to pursue a will-o-the-wisp Grand Prix car project under the patronage of Juan Peron.

The Cisitalia 360 GP car was unsuccessful, but Dusio built a good business with Willys Jeep variants for rural Argentineans. In 1960, he attempted to resurrect the Cisitalia brand with government help and a partnership with Fiat Argentina SA.

Fiat had prepared a 1500S version of their 1,481cc engine Cabriolet with a 1,491 cc twin-overhead-cam engine designed by OSCA, another boutique tuning house started by the Maserati brothers after they sold their namesake business to the Orsi family. Fiat licensed the OSCA engine for manufacture in their own plants, but supplied a few back to OSCA for their more sophisticated chassis.

In addition to the Pininfarina-designed Spider, there were a few 1500S coupes by Carrozzeria Fratelli Fissore, of Savigliano, which developed a close relationship with Fiat from the late 1940s. Dusio ordered a batch of the Fiat version of the Fissore 1500S and had them shipped to Argentina. Estimates of the quantity vary from fifteen to thirty, but they were badged and sold as the Cisitalia DF85.

By the early 1990s this DF85 had migrated from Argentina to Florida. Photographs of the car show it to have worn red paint and seemingly to have been highly original; importantly, all of the attractive trim pieces remained in place. It was repainted in the subtle dark metallic blue it wears today, a color that suits its lines well and accentuates the chrome and aluminum details.

Aside from its repaint, over the course of the last 17 years the car has had an engine rebuild with two new pistons fitted and the brakes overhauled. An exceptionally rare variation on a popular and renowned theme.