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Fleetwood Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A S Roadster
Fleetwood Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A S Roadster
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Isotta-Fraschini is best remembered for his development of the Tipo 8 series automobile that debuted in 1912, featuring an inline eight-cylinder engine. The successor was the Tipo 8A series introduced in 1924, offering 115 horsepower, a redesigned frame and suspension and Isotta's highly regarded three-speed transmission. In America, where nearly a third of Isottas were sold, the price of an 8A exceeded that of a Model J Duesenberg with its chassis priced at $9,750 and coachbuilt models commanding upwards of $20,000.

The majority of 8A models were mounted on a very long 145 inch wheelbase chassis, with a 134 inch wheelbase reserved for sport models that would be designated by an "S" for Sport or an "SS" for Super Sport. An original guarantee stated that these cars would do 90 miles per hour with the capability of running at 2.5 mph - all in the same gear. In total, about 950 Tipo 8A models were built during the 1925-1931 production run. Coachwork was always custom with Fleetwood credited for creating one of the brightest and best-remembered designs of all time.

The black car in this gallery is a Tipo 8A S, chassis #1175, which was preceeded at Fleetwood's by a practically identical Tipo 8A S, chassis #1400, ordered by a Mr. Valentino. It is the grey car in the first picture. When Valentino ordered his Isotta Tipo 8A S, it was to be designed by Ray Dietrich at LeBaron and fitted with a special roadster body. As it came to be, LeBaron was not equipped to construct bodies and so the order was placed by Elmo di Paoli with Fleetwood. Valentino's roadster carried a massive body with practically half of its length consumed by cowl and hood. The car came ordered with Moroccan leather trim and his specially cast cobra mascot. All hardware was gold-plated and came with a polished damascened aluminum hood and cowl. Interestingly, only three of the cobra mascots were made at the Fleetwood plant.

Valentino took great interest in the design and construction of his car and closely supervised its development. Unfortunately, he passed away before receiving his car while leaving a debt of $25,000 still outstanding. The company displayed the one-off Isotta at the New York Automobile Salon in November 1926. It attracted so much attention there were suggestions at one point to disassemble the car and sell its pieces as mementos. Fortunately, the car remained intact and was later sold to Mr. Gaeta, a New York Isotta agent.

Valentino's Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A S was so exceptional, even for Fleetwood, it became the star attraction at the manufacturing facility. In essence, the car's V-shaped windshield, its unusual "flying" fenders and fine body shape with molding details made it a natural model for duplication. As such, at least two other cars were built with similar Fleetwood coachwork. One is a 1927 Mercedes and the other is this 1927 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A S, chassis #1175, pictured here. Though the early history of this car is not known, it is an exceptional example of the marque as it features rare Fleetwood coachwork identical to that of the Valentino car and is a descendant from the more powerful 8A S series.

In 2001, chassis #1175 was delivered to RM Restorations in Blenheim, Ontario where it received restoration. Upon completion, chassis #1175 was entered into the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, winning 1st place in Class J-2 (European Classic 1925 - 1936).

Source: RM Auctions. 


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