The Cisitalia 202 has been on display since ’51 – in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Innovative styling, then, was probably a gimme! It came courtesy of Pininfarina – based in Turin, Italy. Their coachbuilding big idea was ‘integration’. Features flowed into each other, as never before. Front mudguards and headlights, for instance, bled seamlessly into the front wings. In a few strokes of ‘Pinin’ Farina’s pen, automotive design moved on.
In terms of the 202’s form, then, things were just fine. But functionally, too, it excelled. A solid round-tube frame supported slippery bodywork. The car cut through air like a scalpel. As a result, it was good for 105mph … 120, in competition mode. All from just 50bhp – and a tuned in-line four Fiat 1100 motor. A 4-speed transmission eased the 202 up to such speeds.
Pininfarina’s input finessed the fine detail. Flip-out door handles were a typical flourish. The 202’s cabin was a paragon of minimalism – and safety. No redundant, distracting dials here. On the 202’s launch – in ’46 – Cisitalia was still a new company. Short for Consorzio Industriale Sportive Italia, it was founded by Piero Dusio. He was a businessman/racing driver. Cisitalia’s first specialist product was a single-seater racer. Built by Fiat engineers Giacosa and Savonuzzi, it would subsequently serve as a template for the cars that followed. Sadly – just a year after the 202’s release – Cisitalia was already in trouble. Boss Dusio already hankered after a GP car, to be designed by Porsche. That did not sit well with his fledgeling firm’s finances. By ’63, it was all over. As car companies go, then, Cisitalia was a flash in the pan. The 202, though, burned brightly – not least, as an exhibit at MoMA. A mechanical masterpiece, it lit up the car world for years!