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Isotta Fraschini

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Published on Nov 12, 2011

In 1902, two Italian men, Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini, began production of the first car to bear their names and begin one of the first super-luxury car companies. Royalty and the rich waited in line to have their own personalized and exclusive car from these automakers. Each one was a meticulously crafted with well finished coachwork. They were a work of art and no two were alike.
Famous Isotta owners have included Pope Pius XI, the Aga Khan, the queen of Romania, the king of Egypt and Benito Mussolini. Publisher William Randolph Hearst and boxer Jack Dempsey owned Isottas while film star Rudolph Valentino had two. In the movie Sunset Boulevard, Erich von Stroheim chauffeurs Gloria Swanson in an Isotta Tipo 8A Town Car Landaulet, and James Dean drives an Isotta Tourer in Giant.
The Italian automakers were not only master craftsmen, but pioneers with eight-cylinder engines. In 1912 they produced the Tipo 8, which is regarded as the world's first mass-production, inline, eight-cylinder engine. They were also among the first to put brakes on all four wheels in 1910 where most other makes didn't offer four wheel brakes until the mid 1920's.
One third of the 1480 Isotta straight-eights built were sold in America when the economy was booming during the Roaring Twenties. Among the foreign car makers competing in the US market, Rolls-Royce was the only company to outsell them. From 1924 to 1931, the more powerful Tipo 8A was available. Its capacity was increased to 7.3 liters and the horsepower rose to 120. The factory guaranteed the engine could propel an Isotta to 90 mph.
Sales branches for Isotta Fraschini were established in London, Brussels, New York, Buenos Aires, and where ever there were wealthy motorist wanting to place their order for this status symbol. But the 1929 stock market crash ended the lucrative American market and car production slowed significantly until it ceased in 1935. Even the improved Tipo 8B with its new nickel-steel alloy engine block, pistons, and connecting rods with 160 bhp at 3000 rpm didn't capture the attention of the car buying public. Isotta Fraschini manufactured trucks and engines for boats and aircraft to sustain it through the 1930s and 1940s.
Henry Ford made an offer to buy the company and build Isottas in the U.S. Instead, the Italian government, under Benito Mussolini, stepped in and brokered a deal to sell Isotta Fraschini to the Caproni aircraft company. It was in Italy's best interest to keeping Isotta focused on building engines for Italy's rearmament. Also opposing foreign investment, the government prohibited all further contact with the Americans.
In 1947, fresh from World War II and the allied invasion of Sicily, Isotta Fraschini tried to revive its luxury car production with the introduction of the Fraschini Tipo 8C Monterosa. But the company's obsession with perfection and luxury which created their demand was the cause of their demise. The price tag for the Monterosa was twice the cost of the most expensive chauffeur-driven limousines offered by Cadillac or Packard at the time. Europe had been destroyed, Italy was in a state of destitution and the French government had imposed an excessive luxury tax which made the car even more expensive.
With no options to sell their cars, it's not possible to determine just how many Monterosas were actually built. There may have been as few as three and but no more than six.

Today:
Remnants of Isotta Fraschini survive as three Italian companies.
Isotta Fraschini Motori S.p.A.: An engineering firm specializing in diesel products, particularly marine engines, industrial engines, and rail traction engines, but also providing a wide range of civil and military engineering products and services. The company is part of Fincantieri group.
The company produces propulsion and generation systems, used in US Navy littoral fast attack surface ships and luxury yachts. The company's products are considered some of the most well design and manufactured in the world, with a cost that is comensurate with their quality.

The L1306 T3, V 1312 T3, VL 1716 T2 T3 and GE COLZA V 1312 T3 generation systems produce between 200kW and 3,000kW. The largest of these generators are used in the USS Freedom (LCS-1) class of Littoral Combat Ships.

Isotta Fraschini Milano, s.r.l.: A firm in Milan producing handmade Italian luxury goods since 2002.

Fabbrica Automobili Isotta-Fraschini S.p.A: A firm aiming to revive the automotive industry of Isotta-Fraschini. For some time the brand name belonged to the Italian Government.

Copyright Disclaimer: Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

  • Category

  • Song

  • Artist

    • Silvana Fioresi, Lina Termini
  • Album

    • The Italian Song - Succeci della Canzone Italiana 1942 - 1943, Volume 6
  • Licensed to YouTube by

    • The Orchard Music (on behalf of MUSICAL ARK)
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