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Isotta Fraschini Type 8A. One of the heights of pre-war motorsports

Although they are normally considered the Italian Rolls-Royces, the truth is that any Isotta Fraschini model has a more edgy and sporty identity than that of the British. In addition, in terms of quality it is said that they even surpassed the Duesenbergs. Discussions that are put aside when you have the opportunity to observe specimens like this Type 8A. A really radiant Isotta Fraschini.

“An Isotta Fraschini 8A is a big, heavy and fast model. You drive it with energy and determination. It has been called the Italian Rolls-Royce but it is completely different. It throbs, it does not purr. Don't float, conquer. It does not isolate you, it exposes you. And it does not assure, it threatens. It's adrenaline, not serotonin. " This is how restorer Fred Buess refers to how an Isotta Fraschini is to be handled and conceived. Just in the opposite way to which many would think given the stately nature of his creations. With luxurious finishes and elongated chassis for maximum comfort.

However, it would not be appropriate to take as a general rule the image of the great Isotta Fraschini to be driven by a driver. Far from it, There were also specimens with more sporting whims. The same duality that we can see in other great brands of the time such as Duesenberg. Living together spider models like him SSJ with comfortable elongated battle creations like the SJ Beverland. Duality always inscribed within the exclusiveness of these brands. Which together with Rolls-Royce, Packard and Pierce-Arrow fed the garages of stars of the show, high officials and businessmen.

In this regard, Isotta Fraschini stood out as the most important Italian company in this high-end market. And that even started with the determined vocation to do them. Being more focused on various businesses related to the motor and the commercialization of vehicles than on designing its own range. Fortunately, the technological expertise of its engineers led to the manufacture of spectacular mechanics. Successfully built to become a symbol of the most exquisite motorsports. Proof of this is this Type 8A Roadster from 1929 up for auction at World Wide Auctioneers.


Born at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, Isotta Fraschini was born to import Renault and Mors automobiles into Italy. Commercial activity that, after a few years, made compatible with the manufacture of aviation and nautical engines. Something that later came to complement even launching diverse ranges of trucks and industrial vehicles. However, when it comes to automobiles, the story begins when the first passenger cars designed and assembled by the brand itself appeared in 1904 at its facilities in Milan.

Thus, the first market of interest was not so much that of the elegant and comfortable cars for the transport of the upper classes as that of the sports competition. With the sight set on the "Gentleman racer" of the moment, Isotta Fraschini appeared as one of the recurring brands in Italian races such as the Coppa Florio. One of the seminal motorsport competitions, where Isotta registered models of up to 100CV and 17 liters of displacement in the case of the Type D. A sporting trail that, even lowered when shifting towards an audience with less drive for speed, always remained in the definition of models like the Type 8.

Possibly the most successful model in the history of Isotta Fraschini, who found in him a vehicle as versatile and excellent as Duesenberg did with his J. And, just by taking a look at the different versions of the Type 8, we can find a lot of car bodies. Alternating the most sporty of a single bench with the most "aristocratic”Of two and closed cabin. Work always carried out by independent bodybuilders, since Isotta Fraschini - like most of the brands of the moment - served the chassis naked together with the mechanics.


Before the First World War Isotta Fraschini was a clearly visible company in the world of competition. An excellent testing ground for testing engine reliability and power. Qualities applied during the 20s in the Type 8. The model that, with all its series and variants, has been the best known of the brand. A car endowed with a reputation that precedes it, focused especially on the American market. And, after all, most of the fortunes of the moment were being generated in that country. Just the public that needs a high-end car like this one, born to compete with the Rolls and Duesenbergs of the moment.

In this context, the Isotta Fraschini Type 8 offered some of the latest in the industry. In the mechanical aspect, the most outstanding was to mount one of the first in-line eight-cylinder engines produced in large series. While in safety, its braking system marked clear differences with respect to the averages of the moment. What's more, the launch in 1925 of the second series - known as Type 8A - represented a large increase in displacement, going from 5'9 to 7'4 liters. Thus, the power increased to 160CV in some cases.

An example of quality that, furthermore, was magnified when Isotta Fraschini advertised itself as a company where everything was done by hand with the highest quality criteria. In fact, the cost of a Type 8A could easily exceed that of a Duesenberg J. Something that gives us the measure of how far this Italian brand went, which is now an icon for collectors thanks to models like the one illustrated in this article. A 1929 unit registered six years later, which has received several restorations to its current state. A state that, although not the original, projects the charm of the happy 20s very well.

Photographs: World Wide Auctioneers

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Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.


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