My Car Quest

June 29, 2022

The 1947 Cisitalia 202 – A Design Masterpiece

From the My Car Quest Wayback Machine this article was originally published in April 2015.

by Mike Gulett-

“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 – photo by The Petersen Automotive Museum

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 of aluminum. The Cisitalia 202 was introduced at the Villa d’Este Gold Cup show in Como, Italy in 1947. Unfortunately 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 in 2011 in the “vault”, a lower level area where there are many beautiful classic cars not on public display.

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

Cisitalia 202

Leslie Kendall (seated) Showing The Cisitalia 202

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

Cisitalia 202

Cisitalia 202 Logo

Cisitalia Logo

Eva Peron’s Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet

This 1947 Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet is a rare car made even more rare because the original owners were Juan and Eva Peron of Argentina, where this beauty spent most of its life.

Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet

1947 Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet

It was restored in Europe to what appears to be perfection and acquired by the San Francisco Academy of Art.

Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet

Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet

Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet

I was fortunate to see this car at the Marin Sonoma Concours d’Elegance in May 2012 where it won first place in its class.

Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet

Cisitalia 202 Cabriolet

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

I know the inside photos are too dark and the outside photos have too much glare.

Cisitalia Logo

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

  1. Fred Johansen says

    Wasn’t Eva Peron gifted one also? Wonder where that one is?

  2. Wayne Watkins says

    They also had the sense to put the steering wheel on the right hand side to suit the European race tracks , the same as Enzo Ferrari did for his first few years of every Ferrari built . Earlier most Bugattis also were built to win races with the steering wheel on the right side .

  3. When I was a student at Art Center in LA, a fellow student drove a Cisitalia to class every day. This was in 1966. We were taking automobile design and we were well aware of its significance. I thought it was very daring of him to park it at school. I never even did this with my 1960 Ford Fairlane – afraid of dents. It was the rarest of the rare, for sure.

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