Lender: The Collier Collection @ The Revs Institute, Naples, Florida

Sponsored by: J. David Miller, Sagemark Consulting Private Wealth Services

If a single design can be said to embody the essence of the Italian automotive renaissance after World War II, it is that of the Cisitalia 202 coupe, of which only 170 examples were built. The Cisitalia 202 coupe was the first car in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and was included in the seminal 8 Automobiles exhibition at the museum in 1951.

All 202s used an innovative chassis laid down initially in 1944 by the great Fiat engineer Dante Giacosa working in his spare time. Giacosa designed a new tubular chassis that placed driver and engine lower than common practice at the time. As the war wound down and his workload at Fiat increased, Giacosa suggested that Giovanni Savonuzzi, then working in Fiat’s aircraft engine section, be named Cisitalia’s technical director. Taking the post in August 1945, Savonuzzi patented Giacosa’s chassis layout on behalf of Cisitalia. The critical February 1947 patent describes coachwork “profiled so that the front end is very close to the ground, with the fenders forming two lateral walls that are relatively high in relation to the engine hood.” That nicely sums up almost everything following the Cisitalia 202 in car design up to the present day.

—Adapted from the exhibition catalogue essay by Robert Cumberford

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