The Myth of Italian Coachbuilders: Fantuzzi

  • 01 June 2024
  • 3 min read
  • 4 images
The Myth of Italian Coachbuilders: Fantuzzi image

Photo credit: Fiskens, Maserati, RM Sotheby’s, Wheelsage

In the 1950s and 1960s Modena became the global epicenter of racing cars, thanks largely to Maserati and Ferrari. During this period, due to cost and time constraints, the bodies of single-seaters and sports cars intended for racing were crafted by sheet metal artisans using the "filoni" technique. This involved shaping iron rods to define the three-dimensional shape and size of the car body, creating a full-scale mock-up, the so-called "filone". On this mock-up various aluminum pieces were shaped, then welded together and fixed to the steel tube frame, before being painted usually in the color red.

The Myth of Italian Coachbuilders: Fantuzzi - 1 Fantuzzi was a significant part of Maserati, crafting bodies for racing cars. On this picture you can see the 1953 Maserati A6GCS/53 Spyder.

Fantuzzi was among the top sheet metal artisans of the era alongside Scaglietti. Born in 1903 Medardo Fantuzzi, alongside his brother Gino, moved to Modena in 1937 when Maserati relocated from Bologna after being acquired by the Orsi family. The Maserati brothers appreciated the Fantuzzis' work so much that in 1939 they invited Medardo to work on the racing car bodies directly at the Maserati factories. After World War II, Fantuzzi created masterpieces like the 250F single-seater, which won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1957 and models such as the A6GCS, 150S, 200S, 250S, 300S, 350S, 450S and the Eldorado single-seater for the Europe-America challenge.

The Myth of Italian Coachbuilders: Fantuzzi - 2 One of Fantuzzi's masterpieces is undoubtedly the Maserati 250 F, which won the 1957 Formula 1 World Championship with Juan Manuel Fangio.

When Maserati decided to end its official racing involvement in late 1957, Enzo Ferrari contacted Fantuzzi to craft bodies for his racing cars. Fantuzzi created Formula 1 and sports car models until the mid-1960s, introducing the “shark nose” front end made famous by the 156 F1, which won the 1961 Formula 1 World Championship. He also crafted the first prototypes of the P series. His specialized workshop in Modena also served other manufacturers like ATS, Tecno, De Tomaso, and Serenissima.

The Myth of Italian Coachbuilders: Fantuzzi - 3 The 1955 Maserati 300S with a body handcrafted by Fantuzzi.

From the late 1970s, the company was managed by Medardo's son Fiorenzo, who focused mainly on restoring vintage cars. Medardo Fantuzzi passed away in 1986 at the age of 80 and the company closed in 1993, leaving a legacy of legendary motorsport vehicles.

The Myth of Italian Coachbuilders: Fantuzzi - 4 After Maserati's racing division closed in 1957, Fantuzzi started collaborating with Ferrari. On the image above you can see the 156 F1 “shark nose” which won the 1961 Formula 1 World Championship with Phil Hill.