1908 Itala Grand Prix Car
Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, England | June 29, 2012
The Itala marque was founded in 1904 and is fairly well-known among enthusiasts and collectors for its racing prowess prior to 1910. The company existed until bought out by Fiat in the mid-1930s. That’s 30 years of history but it’s so rare to see one come up for public sale. And yet here is one – but not just any Itala. This car, known as “Floretta” is a somewhat famous model with known, detailed history.
Itala racing cars won the Coppa Florio in 1905, the Targa Florio in 1906 and the Peking-to-Paris race in 1907. 1908 was the first year for a fixed “formula” for the Grands Prix of Europe. Itala built three four-cylinder cars for the 1908 season, utilizing drivers Alessandro Cagno, Henri Fournier and Giovanni Piacenza. It was thought until very recently that this car was the one driven by Cagno. New evidence (such as wheelbase and weight comparisons) suggest that this may have been the one driven by Piacenza, as it had a longer wheelbase and thus, more weight, than either of the other team cars.
In 1909, the car was in possession of a Mr. R. Wil-de-Gose who lapped the Brooklands circuit at 93mph. The next year he returned and eventually bumped the speed up to 101mph, faster than the Mercedes race cars it competed against in 1908. Shortly after this, the original racing body was replaced with the four-seat touring body you see here. After World War I, the car was parked in a garage in England until discovered in 1927. The car was brought back to life and has changed hands only a few times since. I highly recommend going to Bonhams site here and reading the entire description, which includes snippets of stories by people who have driven this monstrous machine. It’s very interesting.
The engine is a massive 12-liters in capacity. It has four-cylinders with cylinders cast in two blocks. It makes about 100 horsepower and is good for cruising comfortably at speeds over 80 mph. The last Itala I can find that sold at auction went for less than $100,000. The estimate on this one is slightly more at $2,300,000-$3,900,000. It’s an amazing machine and an amazing opportunity. For more info click here and for more on Bonhams in Goodwood, click here.
Update: Sold $2,724,748.