LightAuto

Greyhounds

The Story of the Light Sports Coupe

Part Two,The Nineteen Forties.

For most of the Nineteen Forties very little development was possible due to the war and the disruption in the years after, but a few engineers, at first in Austria then in Germany and in Italy, were determined to introduce advanced light coupes.

The Italian link with the 1930’s was the Fiat 1100s coupe. This was a development of the Fiat 508c MM.
The Cisitalia was a serious attempt to introduce a small coupe to the market, but other matters brought about it’s downfall. The Maserati mentioned later only made a brief appearance before an increase in engine size, a recurring event, moved it outside the parameters of this study.
In Austria the Porsche family and their design team, against all odds produced a car that set the standard for the future, as Porsche cars continue to do. This was a successor to the pre-war Volkswagen type 64 sports coupe designed by the same team.
Founded in 1943 by Piero Dusio, Consorzio Industriali Sportivio Italia, Cisitalia for short first production car was a single seat competition car designed by Danti Giacosa,in his own time,being a Fiat engineer and the designer of the 508c MM before the war. Based on Fiat components which included the “Milleceno” engine installed in a tubular chassis frame. It was first sold in 1946 and was very successful. Wanting to move on from this, Dusio had Giacosa design a 2-seater road going coupe version which was designated Project 202. After the first prototype the project was then taken over by Savoniezzi, an ex-Fiat engineer, who produced a second coupe, this had large rear fins to improve stability, these didn’t make it to production, and a change to a 1100cc engine.
Completed in 1947 it had a top speed of of 122 mph. The production cars with bodies by Pinin Farina were aerodynamic coupes but without fins based on Savonezzi’s designs. Introduced in 1947 with production commencing in 1948, the coupe had an aluminium body on a tubular chassis, resulting in a weight of only 780Kg and a top speed of 105mph. Bodies were made by various  Carrozzeria, including Pinin Farina, Vignali and Frua. Reports on production vary from only 170 to 485, before it ended in 1952. Cisitalia 202

The Fiat 1100s was another Giacosa design, but this time for his full time employer  and it was an uprated version of his 508c MM. With a twin carburettor version of the 1100 engine producing 51 bhp and a new aerodynamic body by Savio, it now had a top speed of 93 mph.Produced in time for the 1947 Mille Miglia, it did well and was raced again in 1948. A total of 401 were made before production of this model stopped in 1950. Fiat 1100s

The next step was the “1100s Pinin Farina Coupe”. Using the same chassis but a new 2+2 body. Being slightly larger and heavier, performance was inferior with a maximum speed of 87 mph. Production was limited and only 50 were made by 1951 when it ceased. Fiat 1100s Pinin Farina Coupe.
Introduced at the Geneva show of 1947, the A6-1500 the first Maserati road car, had a 1488cc six cylinder single overhead camshaft engine, with the option of coupe or open bodies by Pinin Farina. It had a ladder frame chassis using coil springs all round, wishbones i.f.s. at the front  and a live rear axle. Introduced at the Geneva show of 1947, the A6-1500 the first maserati road car, had a 1488cc six cylinder single overhead camshaft engine, with the option of coupe or open bodies by Pinin Farina. It had a ladder frame chassis using coil springs all round, wishbones i.f.s. at the front and a live rear axle. With a top speed of 95 mph from an engine producing 65 bhp. A modest production run of 61 cars was achieved before ending in 1950.  Maserati A6-1500
Ferry Porsche with the Porsche design team led by Karl Rabe, designed and built the first car  to bare the Porsche name, while resident in the small Austrian town of Gmund where they had been evacuated at the end of the second world war. The first prototype was completed in March 1948, and was a mid engined roadster using Volkswagen components mounted in a space frame chassis. The second prototype used a purpose built platform chassis, the engine again a 1131cc Volkswagen unit tuned to produce 40 bhp  was mounted  in the usual Porsche position and again using all Volkswagen components. With a coupe body designed by Erwin Komenda, the 356 was born. Between 46 and 51 356s were made at Gmunde, all with aluminium bodies.Porsche 356
All the Italian cars mentioned in this chapter were soon to go out of production.Other makers would appear in the next decade to fill the gap in the market.
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