1947 Cisitalia 202
07 May 2023 3 min read 3 images
The story of Cisitalia began in Turin, Italy, in 1946. Founded by the eclectic entrepreneur Piero Dusio and the driver Piero Taruffi, it initially focused on the development of a single-seater, the D46 which, thanks to a number of sporting successes and the iconic image of Tazio Nuvolari who continued to race despite the steering wheel becoming detached, shot the brand into the spotlight. This increased popularity gave Cisitalia the motivation to expand its range with a small sports car for road use based on the mechanics of the D46, which would go on to represent a fundamental chapter in the history of motoring.
The first version of the Cisitalia 202, known as the 202 CMM (Coupé Mille Miglia) and initially designed by Dante Giacosa, the creator of the Fiat 500, together with the technical director of Cisitalia, Giuseppe Savonuzzi, was presented as a very aerodynamic and innovative car, with a streamlined tail and two very prominent shark fins on the rear. This was the starting point for Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina to create the 202 Gran Sport, whose exquisite shapes were the culmination and perfection of everything experimented previously: the bonnet, body, mudguards and headlights were all perfectly harmonized, creating a truly timeless design.
Presented in 1947 at the Mostra della Carrozzeria in the Triennale, Milan and the Paris Motor Show of the same year, it won the Coppa d’Oro award at the Concorso d’Eleganza in Villa d’Este in the same year. The Cisitalia 202 Gran Sport was called “a sculpture in motion” in 1951 when it was chosen for an exhibition along with seven other cars at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). Since 1972, it has been on permanent display.
The 202 can rightly be considered the first example of the modern sports car and its lines have had a strong impact on the design aesthetics of the famous Turin coachbuilder, breaking with tradition and introducing a number of original style concepts. The 202 was built on top of a redesigned chassis and was the first production car equipped with a tubular chassis, while the mechanics were based on numerous Fiat components starting from the 1089cc four-cylinder engine derived from the 1100 and tuned to develop 66 horsepower.
Over the course of production from 1946 to 1952 the design evolved but remained essentially the same, also because, at the time, small series cars were often bodied by different coachbuilders, in this case the Farina Ateliers and to a lesser extent those of Vignale.
Despite the palpable quality of the design, the advanced mechanics that made it very competitive on the track, including a second place overall by Nuvolari in the Mille Miglia of 1947, Cisitalia did not have a significant commercial success. Less than 200 examples were built over a period of just five years.