Isotta Fraschini Automobiles, Buses, Trucks, aircraft and marine engines 1900-1949 Milano Italy
|Founded||Milan, Italy (1900)|
|Products||Automobiles, aircraft engines, marine engines and other goods|
|Footnotes / references
Original firm ceased automobile production 1949
Isotta Fraschini is an Italian brand historically known for the production of cars which were among the most luxurious and prestigious ever built as well as trucks, and engines for marine and aviation use. Founded in Milan, Italy, in 1900 by Cesare Isotta and the brothers Vincenzo, Antonio and Oreste Fraschini, in 1955 it was merged with engine manufacturer Breda Motori and was renamed F.A. Isotta Fraschini e Motori Breda. However, no significant commercial success was made. The company went bankrupt in 1999. In 2000, a new company was founded, under the name of Isotta Fraschini Milano. Isotta Fraschini currently has offices in Milan and Bari.
The firm was named for its founders, Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini, as Società Milanese Automobili Isotta, Fraschini & C., on 27 January 1900. The motto was “Import, sell, repair cars”. Prior to establishing their own company in 1904, Isotta and Fraschini assembled Renaults.
The first automobile bearing this marque featured a four-cylinder engine with an output of 24 horsepower (18 kW). The car, driven by Vincenzo Fraschini, appeared in several races. In 1905, Isotta Fraschini gained notoriety in the Coppa Florio, where they entered a Tipo D with a 17.2-litre (1,050 cu in) 100 horsepower (75 kW) engine. For a short time in 1907, Isotta Fraschini merged with French automobile company Lorraine-Dietrich. The firm started making race cars using this same 100 horsepower (75 kW) engine, establishing the company’s reputation and giving its name considerable cachet. It was also one of the first cars with four-wheel brakes, following their invention by Arrol-Johnston of Scotland in 1909. They were also among the early pioneers of overhead cam (OHC), with an engine designed by Giustino Cattaneo. Isotta Fraschini introduced their Tipo 8, the first production automobile to be powered by a straight-eight engine, at the Paris Salon in 1919 and began delivering them to customers in 1920.
With the growth of the wealthy middle class in North America in the 1920s, Isotta Fraschini marketed deluxe limousines to the new American aristocracy. Early film stars Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino drove Isotta Fraschinis. A 1929 Tipo 8A Castagna Transformable is featured in the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard and another appears in the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday with Fredric March. An Isotta also makes a featured appearance in the 1946 film Without Reservations with John Wayne and Claudette Colbert. Also, an Isotta Fraschini was gigolo Lindsay Marriott’s car in Raymond Chandler’s classic Farewell, My Lovely that was made into a motion picture starring Dick Powell and Claire Trevor. The grille of the Isotta with the lightning bolt insignia is seen parked in a ravine, right before Lindsay Marriott gets zapped to death. An oversized Isotta is also the vehicle of choice for Dick and Nicole Diver in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1933 novel Tender is the Night.
Seriously affected by the economic crisis of the 1930s and by the disruptions of World War II, Isotta Fraschini stopped making cars after the war (1949). Only five of the last model, the Monterosa, were produced. The plants were converted to produce marine engines.
The company was left on the company register and in 1955 it was merged with engine manufacturer Breda Motori and named F.A. Isotta Fraschini e Motori Breda. The company started to produce trolley buses again and in 1960s built a new diesel engine factory in Bari. In the 1980s, the company was renamed Isotta Fraschini Motori SpA and it became part of Fincantieri group, with administrative headquarters in the old factory in Bari.
In the 1990s, attempts to revive the automotive industry of Isotta Fraschini were made. Concept-car coupe and roadster Isotta Fraschini T8 were built in 1996, and concept-car roadster Isotta Fraschini T12 was built in 1998. The company never went into production and closed for bankruptcy in 1999.
In 2000, after 100 years from the origin, a group of Italian investors, headed by an economist, acquired the rights to the trademark. They founded a new company, Isotta Fraschini Milano, and a cultural foundation, Intrepida Fides. A team group, based in Milan, has been set up to revive the historical spirit of Isotta Fraschini by conceiving new moving icons, such as an urban electric vehicle named “Type 0” and a hyper car. Both vehicles will be revealed by 2014.
- Runabout 1901–1902
- Tipo FENC 1908
- Tipo KM 1910-1914
- Tipo IM 1913
- Tipo 8 1919-1924
- Tipo 8A 1924-1931
- Tipo 8B 1931-1936
- Tipo 8C Monterosa 1948-1949
- T8 1996
- T12 1998
Isotta Fraschini is today represented by the following three economic realities.
- Intrepida Fides, The Isotta Fraschini Foundation, acronym coined by Gabriele D’Annunzio, with registered office in Milan.
- Isotta Fraschini Milano s.r.l., with registered office in Milan, active in the field of vehicles, as well as production and marketing of luxury goods.
- Isotta Fraschini Motori S.p.A.: with registered office in Bari. An engineering firm specializing in diesel products, particularly marine engines, industrial engines, and rail traction engines, but also providing civil and military engineering products and services. The company is part of Fincantieri group. The company produces propulsion and generation systems, used in US Navy littoral fast attack surface ships and yachts. The L1306 T3, V 1312 T3, VL 1716 T2 T3 and GE COLZA V 1312 T3 generation systems produce between 200 kW and 3,000 kW. The largest of these generators are used in the Freedom class of Littoral Combat Ships.