My Car Quest

September 21, 2019

The Beginning Of Modern Car Styling – The 1947 Cisitalia 202

by Mike –

“Cisitalia” comes from “Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italia”, an Italian business started in 1946 by the wealthy business man and sportsman Piero Dusio. Dusio was also an amateur race car driver.

Cisitalia 202

1947 Cisitalia 202

The 1947 Cisitalia 202 was a revolution in automobile styling and is considered the beginning of modern car design.

Cisitalia 202

Pinin Farina based this design on Giovanni Savonuzzi’s Cisitalia race car. The Cisitalia 202 has a smooth flowing shape that integrates all of the components of an automobile (hood, body, fenders, and headlights) into one seamless design for the first time.

Cisitalia 202

This beautiful model became part of the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1951 as part of the first MoMA exhibit on automotive design. The MoMA curator, Arthur Drexler, said “…the Cisitalia’s body is slipped over its chassis like a dust jacket over a book…”.

Cisitalia 202

The Cisitalia 202 needed to be light weight to compensate for the small Fiat engine and it used chrome sparingly because of its scarcity at the time. This is the first example of the Berlinetta, the prototype of the modern sports car.

Cisitalia 202

You can see the influence of this revolutionary design on cars that followed: Porsche 356, Lancia Aurelia B20, Aston Martin DB2, Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint and many Ferraris and Maseratis.

Cisitalia 202

There were 170 examples made between 1947 and 1952 and the bodies are hand made in aluminum. The Cisitalia 202 was introduced at the Villa d’Este Gold Cup show in Como, Italy in 1947. Cisitalia went out of business in 1952.

Cisitalia 202

This beautiful Cisitalia pictured here is housed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles where I saw it a few months ago in the “vault”, a lower level area where there are many beautiful classic cars not on public display.

Recently Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, “The Cisitalia represented a new direction in automobile body design, one that every other automobile manufacturer would ultimately follow. It is so artfully sculpted and perfectly proportioned that I cannot help but compare it to a precious gem.”

Cisitalia 202

When Leslie Kendall was conducting a tour of the Petersen “vault” for automotive book authors he made it clear how much he loved this Cisitalia 202.

Cisitalia 202

Leslie Kendall (seated) Showing The Cisitalia 202 To Automotive Authors

The first photo above of this Cisitalia 202 is from the Petersen Museum and the others are my photos from the Petersen Museum “vault”. This beautiful car will be featured at Sculpture In Motion: Masterpieces Of Italian Design which opens February 25, 2012, and will run through February 3, 2013 at the Petersen Museum.

Cisitalia 202

My thanks to Paul Fuller for sending the Los Angeles Times article to me.

For further reading I recommend “Car Design Europe” by Paolo Tumminelli published by teNeues Publishing Group.

Cisitalia 202

Cisitalia 202

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