The Nostalgia of Forgotten Gods. Pegaso (cars), Spain, 1946-1957

  • 17 February 2024
  • 2 min read
  • 4 images
The Nostalgia of Forgotten Gods. Pegaso (cars), Spain, 1946-1957 image

Photo credit: Pegaso, RM Sotheby’s, Wheelsage

Spanish manufacturer Pegaso, which produced luxury sports cars from 1946 to 1957, will be represented by one of the most significant models in its history, the Z-102, at The I.C.E. Concours d'Elegance in St. Moritz on February 23 and 24. The car that will be competing is an important and original example the one that is part of Fritz Kaiser's collection, the last car produced by Saoutchik open and with a lowered windshield that gives it special flair.

Created to bring prestige to the Francisco Franco regime in Spain and promising interesting mechanics and original designs, Pegaso never reached the expected levels of success and produced just 86 cars.

Pegaso - New 1 (1) The beautiful open-top version with its low frameless windshield and exposed glass, the last model with Saoutchik bodywork

It is well worth knowing, however. Created from the imagination and ambition of Wifredo Pelayo Ricart who returned to Barcelona from Italy after for eight years as Chief Engineer for Special Projects at the Alfa Romeo Corse, the project was gifted with advanced technology that had always been Ricart’s ambition. In fact, at Alfa Romeo he had created two single-seaters as brave as they were unlucky: the 162 Grand Prix with an incredible 135° V16 engine with 4 valves per cylinder and the 512, a very advanced single-seater powered by Alfa’s first mid-engine, a compact 1,500cc flat V12 with two roots type superchargers, neither of which made it to the track because they were built in 1940, the year Italy entered the Second World War.

Once back in Spain, Ricart was commissioned by ENASA, built over the remains of the Spanish arm of Hispano-Suiza, to create a sports car that took the name of Pegaso. Presented at the Paris Motor Show in 1951 under the name Z-102, it had to compete with the Italian and English sports cars which in those years, dominated the tracks as much as they did the roads.

The Nostalgia of Forgotten Gods. Pegaso (cars), Spain, 1946-1957 - 2 The Pegaso Z-102 in its original configuration with steel bodywork presented at the Paris Motor Show in 1951

Powered by a light alloy 2,800cc V8 engine producing 170hp, it featured a 5-speed non-synchromesh transaxle and De Dion rear suspension. On paper it had everything it needed to succeed but it was too heavy and not reliable enough as the attempts made in races soon showed. Collaborations with three different coachbuilders – the Spanish Serra, the Italian Touring and the French Saoutchik – sought to drastically lighten the car through the use of aluminium bodies and interventions to the heavy chassis.

The Nostalgia of Forgotten Gods. Pegaso (cars), Spain, 1946-1957 - 3 The beautiful evolution of the Z-102 with aluminium bodywork made by the Italian Touring from 1953

To enhance the project further and send out a message that the company applied avant-garde technology, Ricart also had ENASA build a special Van called Bacalao that it used for promotional activities and as a means of assistance at the races.

The futuristic vision of the cars made by Touring reached its zenith with the much-celebrated Z-102 Cùpula, which was presented in 1953 at the New York Motor Show and sold immediately. A unique example, it is now part of the Evert Louwman collection and is exhibited at the Hague Museum.

All this was not enough for Spain to place an autocratic product in the luxury sports car market and in 1957 the company ceased the production of cars and focused solely on commercial vehicles.

The Nostalgia of Forgotten Gods. Pegaso (cars), Spain, 1946-1957 - 4 At the 1953 New York Motor Show the Spanish Pegaso dazzled everyone with this fantastic and unique example of the Z-102 named Cùpula