- An excellent example of the famed eight-cylinder Isotta Fraschini
- Meticulously detailed, jewel-like original coachwork by Castagna
- Originally delivered to prominent horse breeder Jean Boalt Chambers
- Known history since new, including noted early collector D. Cameron Peck
- Very well-preserved restoration with many original features
- A Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
Extensively documented by marque historian Jonathan Sierakowski, Isotta Fraschini chassis number 1628 was mounted with this handsome formal body, known usually as a Landaulet Imperiale but identified in American parlance on its original bill of sale from Isotta Motors of New York City as an “All-weather Landaulet Limousine.” The sale was made on 17 March 1931 to Mrs. Jean Boalt Chambers of 1175 Park Avenue, who traded in her previous Tipo 8A on the transaction.
Jean Boalt had served as a reporter for the New York Herald during the 1920s, and later was a freelance writer with several radio scripts to her credit. In 1928 she had wed Robert A. Chambers, the great-grandson of sewing machine inventor Isaac Merritt Singer, and himself a prominent New York attorney and civic leader. Together they won many honors at horse shows with hunters from their Long Island estate, Katonah’s Wood. A wonderful period photograph survives, showing this Isotta Fraschini at one such event in Southampton.
In 1948, the Tipo 8A was sold through Gordon Ayre to the enthusiastic early collector, D. Cameron Peck of Chicago, for $250; the Peck Car Record, now held by the Detroit Public Library, identifies the seller as “Jean B. Chambers, Katonah, N.Y.,” and records the car as chassis and engine number 1628. Mr. Peck subsequently sold the Isotta to J.A. Reitzel of Evanston, Illinois. From 1954 until at least 1961, the car was the property of one J. Gross; later owners were Robert J. Fitzpatrick of Toronto, Ontario, noted in the May-June 1976 issue of Antique Automobile, and the noted collectors, Dr. Irwin Ginsberg of Buffalo, New York, and Richard and Linda Kughn of Detroit. In 1991 the car was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning 3rd in Class and the Charles Chayne Memorial Trophy for Most Significant Engineering Achievement.
The older restoration remains utterly splendid, showing little of its age, with all finishes presenting strongly both inside and out. Unusually light-handed for a restoration of its generation, it retains much of its original body woodwork, stamped with the Castagna body number, as well as the elaborately detailed hardware characteristic of that coachbuilder. Wonderful touches include a jewel box concealed under the rear seat floorboards, and a marvelous system by which the passengers direct the chauffeur by pushbuttons which light segments of a wheel on the dashboard, instructing “Left,” “Right,” “Quick,” “Slow,” “Stop,” “Turn Around,” or “Go Home.” Even the hood retains its numbered locks, and the hinge is stamped “1628.”
This is a most extraordinary formal Isotta Fraschini, visually impactful and radiating superb good taste.