My Car Quest

February 26, 2024

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix

by Don Meluzio –

I was recently reading the latest copy of Auto Italia and saw an article on Cristian Ferrari and his Father Sergio. Cristian is the foremost expert on Francis Lombardi’s designs.

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix

I immediately sent an email to Auto Italia asking them to connect me to Cristian. Very soon after Cristian and I were connected, and Cristian told me he lived in Bergamo. I knew that I was going to visit IL Bottegone the Iso Restoration shop of Roberto and his son Federico Negri in Clusone, Italy and I knew that Bergamo was close by.

After a quick trip through the Italian countryside from Milan we were at the home of Sergio Ferrari where Cristian kept his 1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix.

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix

Those of you who are daily readers of My Car Quest may remember that Rob Maselko reported on a showing we had of three OTAS and Lombardi Gran Prixs that we gathered together at Joe Corbacio’s Italian Car Event in the Pocono Mountains.

As Rob said, Francis Lombardi got into the car construction business from the airplane industry, thus the metal fabrication and aerodynamic knowledge necessary to build automobiles. Lombardi used the platform of the Fiat 850 Sedan for a basis for his little sports car. Cristian taught me that Lombardi didn’t modify the engines in his cars, thus the stock Fiat 850 engine.

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix

Lombardi also sold his cars to other companies who marketed under the names Giannini and OTAS, and later sold the license to build his cars to Carlo Abarth who built the Abarth Scorpione 1300. Of course all of these companies modified the stock engine, or in the case of the Abarth replaced it with a 1300cc engine.

Auto Italia referred to Cristian as an authority on Francis Lombardi Designs and I thoroughly agree. He has a Registry of 140 Lombardi Gran Prixs that exist today in Italy. He has a page on each, most showing a photo of the car, some description, and in most cases the owners name.

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix

Cristian had befriended Giuseppe Rinaldi the Desgner of the Gran Prix. Rinaldi has given him some design drawings, and also the original photographs that were used for many of the sales Brochures used by Lombardi. It was quite a thrilling visit and we even got to meet Cristian’s Mother and Father. They, along with Cristian, were incredibly friendly and really made us feel at home.

Lombardi Gran Prix options and equipment

I own an OTAS Gran Prix, but the car I write about here today was a series two Lombardi, and in my mind more desirable. The Lombardi has the following:

* The rear decklid is aluminum

* The Hood is Aluminum

* The Doors are fiberglass

* The rear Body Panel is Fiberglass

* 185/60HR-13 Tires mounted on 4 1/2 X 13

* 4-lug aluminum wheels

The door glass is a solid fixed glass so you have to rely on the front vent windows, and the air vents that direct air into the cabin.

Sitting as low to the ground as it is, and as light as it is, it has to handle like a Lotus Europa. It is a beautiful design, and this was an incredibly good restoration. It made for a thrilling visit, and hopefully a life long friendship.

Cristian Ferrari and Don Meluzio

Cristian Ferrari and Don Meluzio

Don Meluzio is an avid car lover and collector. He is the president of the Iso & Bizzarrini Owner’s Club and lives in Pennsylvania USA.

How many of you have seen one of these in person? Let us know what you think in the Comments.

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix

1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix
Article Name
1968 Lombardi 850 Gran Prix
Cristian Ferrari is the foremost expert on Francis Lombardi's cars.


  1. Rob Maselko says

    Don, thanks for sharing this information with us and continuing to research the history of these beautiful cars.

  2. Hello Don,

    I own a yellow ’69 Lombardi, which has had an Abarth 1000 transplant by the previous owner.
    I too saw the article in Auto Italia and would be interested in visiting Cristian in Bergamo on my next trip. Are you able to pass-on contact details?

    best regards

  3. Hi all
    I’ve too recently managed to become the owner of an ex maranello rosso car. It is lombardi bodied and has a 982cc 4 bolt block engine incorparating an external oil filter assembly. It has Ali skins on the front and rear lids. The side doors are also steel with Ali skins. It has the lower type front bonet and fibreglass rear.

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