<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)

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Lot 346
1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe
Coachwork by Lancefield

Sold for US$ 235,200 inc. premium
1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe
Coachwork by Lancefield

Chassis no. 1676
Engine no. 1198 (see text)

7,370cc Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
115bhp at 2,500rpm
2 Zenith Carburetors
3-Speed Manual Transmission
Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Mechanical Servo Assisted Drum Brakes

*One of the most iconic cars of the 1920s and 30s
*One of two Lancefield sports coupes fitted to Isotta chassis
*CCCA Full Classic
*Unrestored and largely original with great Patina
*Over 30 years in current ownership


THE ISOTTA FRASCHINI TIPO 8A

Cesare Isotta and Oreste Fraschini founded their company in 1900, displaying their first primitive 5hp, single-cylinder car at the Milan Exposition in 1901. Progress was rapid, speeded by the company's involvement in motorsport. Celebrated victories included the 1908 Targa Florio and a sensational second place in the challenging 1908 Vanderbilt Cup. The firm built many fine cars prior to The Great War but is best remembered today for the Giustino Cattaneo designed Tipo 8 and its derivatives.

Developed prior to WWI and introduced in August 1919 as the result of Isotta's switch to a one-model policy, the massively built Tipo 8 was the world's first series-production straight eight. Its magnificent engine was a 5.9-liter overhead-valve unit producing 80bhp at a lowly 2,200rpm; a nine-bearing crankshaft, alloy cylinder block and magneto ignition were features. Chassis details included a three-speed gearbox, multi-plate clutch, semi-elliptic springing and coupled four-wheel brakes.

Conceived as a chauffeur-driven luxury conveyance, the Tipo 8 was aimed at the American market where it was the choice of such world-famous film stars as Rudolph Valentino and 'It Girl' Clara Bow. Other Isotta owners included press baron William Randolph Hearst and world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey. In 1924 the revised Tipo 8A was introduced, which featured a 7.3-liter engine producing around 115bhp—making it the most powerful straight-eight in production—and Isotta's highly regarded three-speed synchromesh transmission. Improvements to the chassis and suspension were implemented also.

In the USA, where Isotta Fraschini was the second most popular foreign make after Rolls-Royce, the price of an 8A exceeded even that of a Duesenberg Model J. The chassis alone was priced at $9,750 while coachbuilt models could cost upwards of $20,000. With one third of all Tipo 8 production going to the United States, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Depression hit Isotta hard. An improved Tipo 8B featuring a four-speed transmission was introduced in 1931 but it is thought that fewer than 100 examples were built compared with 320 of the Tipo 8 and 950 of the 8A. After Henry Ford's plan to save the company failed, Isotta Fraschini was bought by aircraft manufacture, Count Caproni di Talideo in 1932. Pre-war car production ceased in 1935, Isotta Fraschini concentrating on aero engines and trucks thereafter. There was an abortive comeback attempt in 1947 with a rear-engined V8, but the project foundered after relatively few cars had been completed.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

The story of this particular Isotta Franchini starts in 1931. Its first owner, Victor Pryce Webb Esq, was a wealthy attorney living in London. He clearly had an eye for style, ordering his Isotta with a devastatingly striking sports coupe body built by the coach builder Lancefield. Operated by the Gaisford Brothers on Lancefield Street in London, early commissions mostly came from Rolls-Royce and Bentley with more than 150 Rolls and Bentleys ending up clothed in Lancefield's handiwork. They also built bodies for Delage, Stutz, Lagonda, and on three occasions, Isotta Fraschini. Legend has it that this car was admired by a young lady in London, who was so taken by the car she convinced her wealthy male suitor to buy her one just like it.

Originally the car was finished in beige. Shortly after it was delivered in March of 1931, the color was changed to off white, which is believed to be the same paint it wears today. In 1935 it is believed that Mr. Webb Esq, took the car to his home on an island off the Australian coast. It would remain there for 3 years. In 1938 with hostilities brewing all over the world, Mr. Webb chose to return to England, bringing the car with him.

At the outbreak of the war the Isotta was given to the war effort. At this time, it was owned by Mr. Webb's wife, Pretoria Webb, as he had entered the armed services. The car was assigned to a motor pool attached to an ambulance station in Norwich in Southern England. Throughout the war, it was used to transport walking wounded and on occasion had stretchers strapped to the running boards.

When the war ended the car was given back to Mrs. Webb who sadly had been widowed. It was at this time that the car returned to the Webb home in Australia, where it was laid up in the garage and put on blocks. It would remain there until Mrs. Webb's death in the 1980s, when it passed to her son. It was at this time the car was sold and exported to the United States. Its next and current owner was a Tampa area collector who acquired the car in the late 1980s.

Today, this particular Isotta Franchini seems to be in very good order, with less than 55,000 miles indicated on the odometer. Its current paint is believed to be from the color change that took place early in the car's life, and has a lovely patina. The upholstery is believed to be from the late 1940s as it was very common for cars that had been donated to motor pools to be freshened up before they were returned to the original owners. Also at some point in its early life, probably in the 1930s or 1940s the original engine was replaced with an earlier unit numbered 1198. The original engine number plate 1676 was fitted to this unit, probably to facilitate registration. The rest of the car appears to be very much undisturbed.

Also included in the sale will be a set of what is believed to be the original pattern tires. A testament to its current mindful custodian and years of hibernation in Australia.

Isotta Franchini and Lancefield are names that are familiar with almost all prewar car enthusiasts. Isotta Franchini were top of line in their day and the choice of celebrities and those with impeccable taste. Most of these cars have been restored, and it is very rare to see one that has not been. Coming out of years of private ownership and careful stewardship, this wonderful Lancefield bodied sport coupe would be an excellent choice for touring or for various preservation class concours events. This may be one of the last chances to acquire an unrestored, preserved Isotta, and the opportunity should not be missed.

Footnotes

  • Please note, this vehicle is titled under model year 1930.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, this vehicle is titled under model year 1930. Also note, the title will be in transit.
Contacts
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
<b>1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Two-Door Sports Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 1676<br />Engine no. 1198 (see text)
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