1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Landaulet by Carrozzeria Sala
$450,000 - $650,000
- Retained by Isotta Fraschini for nearly 60 years; incredibly preserved example
- Unique landaulet with work by two renowned coachbuilders
- The earliest known surviving Tipo 8A with three owners from new
- Recently serviced and ready for touring
The car offered here, chassis no. 655, is the earliest known example of the company’s most famous and prestigious model, the Tipo 8A. As one of the earliest Tipo 8As produced, its styling bore much resemblance to the preceding Tipo 8, including the design of the fenders, flat single-bar bumpers, and nautical-style cowl vents, indicating that a styling transition was still in-process. It was bodied by Cesare Sala of Milan, one of Italy’s premiere coachbuilders and one with a very close relationship to Isotta Fraschini, as Oreste Fraschini, a member of the founding family, occupied a seat on Sala’s board.
According to Isotta historian Angelo Tito Anselmi, in his famous book on the marque, the car was recorded as being sold to Filippo Bolzari of Milan. Further recent research by historian Jonathan Sierakowski has confirmed that Bolzari, owner of the Hotel Metropole et Monopole of Milan, had the car first registered on 29 September 1927 with license plate number MI 11753.
According to copies of its original Italian registration, on 2 July 1936, Mr. Balzari relocated to the popular Italian resort community of San Remo, 60 kilometers from Monte Carlo, and the registration consequently changed to IM 4151 in the administrative commune of Imperia on 18 July 1936. On 21 October 1946, the designation of the car was changed, from “private use” to “rental” (what might better be termed livery use) for the Excelsior Bellevue Palace, also owned by Balzari, in San Remo. One can assume that it was used as the hotel’s courtesy automobile, for chauffeuring visiting guests to the casino or fine restaurants. It remained until 16 July 1958, when the car was sold back to the factory, Isotta Fraschini Automobili-Breda of Saronno, for 100,000 Italian lire. Early on in the factory’s ownership of the car, Carrozzeria Riva was commissioned to restore the car to its original splendor.
As is typical of a modern company, Isotta Fraschini evolved over the course of the 20th century, through several different ownerships and iterations. Isotta Fraschini & Motori Breda SpA of Saronno eventually became Mec-Fin SpA of Rome/Nevio Russo, and finally simply Finmeccanica, an Italian company active in defense, aerospace, and security work, which acquired the Isotta Fraschini name and the car in 1993. Chassis no. 655, a symbol of the company’s heritage that they were thoughtful enough to protect, remained with its original manufacturer, in all of its iterations and through multiple episodes of corporate turmoil, for a remarkable 58 years.
The car was purchased by its current third owner in early 2017. It was sent to the Pebble Beach award-winning RM Auto Restoration to be worked on and prepped for touring. Mechanical work included rebuilding the carburetor and water pump. In addition, all fluids were replaced, and the car received new gaskets where applicable. The brakes were checked and prepped for touring, and new tires were mounted. A new muffler was fabricated from scratch to original specifications. The hood was painted, as it was heat-checked, the car was completely detailed and all brightwork was polished. The car participated in the 2018 Pebble Beach festivities, completing the Tour d’Elegance without issue, and later shown on the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the Italian Classic class.
This well-preserved Isotta Fraschini, the earliest known Tipo 8A, is a truly unique car with a fascinating story. Having been mechanically sorted, it is ready for the next custodians to experience the joy of Isotta Fraschini ownership.