1924 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8 Torpedo Phaeton
Coachwork by Carrozzeria Sala of Milan
Chassis no. 384
Engine no. 480
*5.9-liter, 100hp inline eight
*One of 10 known to survive
*Subject of a 4,000 hour restoration
*Ex-James Leake, Blackhawk, Teberg, and John O'Quinn Collection
Established at the dawn of the 20th century, Isotta Fraschini focused on high-performance cars from the beginning. The Milan-based Italian automaker achieved global eminence after World War I with its break-through Tipo 8, which introduced the world's first serially produced inline eight-cylinder engine.
The cylinders for the innovative Isotta Fraschini 5.9-liter overhead valve inline-eight were cast en bloc. There was no exterior intake manifold; the twin carburetors attached directly to the block.
Rated at up to 100hp, the Tipo 8 engine could propel an Isotta Fraschini to 85mph. One of the world's first production four-wheel brake systems provided impressive stopping power.
A Tipo 8 chassis listed, when new, for the equivalent of about $10,000. Coachwork by the finest artisans could double the delivered cost.
The Tipo 8 Isotta Fraschini brought smooth, quiet eight-cylinder power into vogue among the world's elite. Its proportions, performance, and luxury made it a prototypical automobile for the superb eight-cylinder cars of the Classic era that followed.
By 1924, the final year of production for the Tipo 8, Isotta Fraschini had become one of the most prestigious marques in the world. Owners included Rudolph Valentino, Jack Dempsey, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Benito Mussolini, his Holiness the Pope and at least four Maharajas.
Carrozzeria Cesare Sala, an official coachbuilder to Isotta Fraschini, bodied this magnificent 146-inch wheelbase 1924 Tipo 8 Torpedo Phaeton. The car's exquisite interior features extensive custom-crafted Carpathian Elm and Mahogany woodwork of extraordinary quality.
Two built-in wood trimmed armchairs comprise the rear seating. They are slightly elevated, perhaps suggesting royal ownership. Cabinetry built into the tonneau behind the front seat provides a lockable bar and vanity compartments for the rear-seat passengers.
The running boards are also solid mahogany, and even the trunk rack is furnished with rub strips made of the fine hardwood.
Lighting includes Stephen Grebel headlamps (with newly installed custom-ground lenses) and a hunting spotlight. This open phaeton was apparently delivered to an owner in an arid climate, as it has never been equipped with windshield wipers or side curtains.
The Sala Torpedo Phaeton was reportedly discovered in Argentina during the 1950s and was later acquired by James Leake, who retained it for two decades. Subsequent owners include the Blackhawk Collection and the Teberg Collection, under whose ownership the present restoration was performed.
Although previously restored cosmetically several decades before the more recent restoration, the Tipo 8's coachwork remains essentially original. "The sheet metal, body wood and woodwork were in perfect original condition and all the factory IF stampings were there in the body wood," the car's most recent restorer has said.
The marvelously inlaid original woodwork that sets this spectacular car apart has been meticulously reconditioned. Two lead crystal decanters and six Waterford crystal tumblers are stowed in the exquisite tonneau cabinets.
Following a 4,000-hour restoration, the Isotta Fraschini debuted at the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance in 2007, where it received a first-in-class award. Although the car has not been shown since, additional detailing has reportedly since been completed. In March 2008, the car was acquired through private purchase by the late John O'Quinn.
Of the estimated 400 to 600 Tipo 8 chassis built, fewer than ten are known today. Among them, this sporty yet regal Torpedo Phaeton stands out with its beautiful lines, majestic presence and enticing interior appointments.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.