Cisitalia, an Italian car maker founded in 1946 by Piero Dusio had a brief, but important life in automobile manufacturing. Cisitalia produced a beautiful landmark design sports car, which I will discuss in another post, but Cisitalia also had a goal of entering Grand Prix competition. However as it turned out, Dusio ran out of resources before the car ran in a Grand Prix race.
What is interesting about the Cisitalia Grand Prix car, known as the Cisitalia T360, was that it was designed by Ferry Porsche, son of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. Because of this Porsche relationship, there is a Cisitalia T360 on display in the Porsche Museum at Stuttgart, Germany. I saw that car (apparently only two are known to exist) during my visit to Germany this spring.
Cisitalia T360 in the Porsche Museum
The design of this car was quite ahead of its time, which is consistent with many things associated with Porsche. The most unusual feature of this design was the rear engine design of the car. Almost all race cars of that time were front engine designs. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche was very familiar with rear engine race cars as he had been involved in the design of the Auto Union Grand Prix cars of the mid-to late 1930s, which were the only cars that could consistently run with the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow Grand Prix cars.
Rear Engine Position Allows for a Sleek Front End Design
In the Cistitalia T360 the engine is mounted behind the driver. The engine was a flat 12-cylinder with an almost square (56 x 51mm) bore/stroke relationship. Each bank of 6-cylinders in this car had 2 overhead camshafts and its own single-stage supercharger. In this configuration the engine produced 296 horsepower at 8,500 rpm.
The Rear Engine Produced 296 horsepower, but was designed for Two-Stage Supercharging to 550 horsepower!
The drive train of the Cisitalia T360 was interesting as well. The car had a five-speed transmission and either two or four-wheel drive could be selected. I am not aware of any other four-wheel drive race cars of that era and very few since that time.
This photo shows the rigid tubular frame of the Cisitalia T360
In 1950, when Cisitalia went into liquidation, Dusio took the only completed T360 car to Argentina. It made a brief appearance at a track in Argentina and then the Cisitalia T360 cars disappeared into museums, without ever competing in a race.
The Cisitalia T360 in Argentina
The following picture is quite interesting. First of all it is one of the few color pictures of the great driver Tazio Nuvolari. It shows him in a Cisitalia T360, but I don’t know that he actually drove the car, so this might be simply a pose. Nuvolari did drive a Cisitalia sports car in the Mille Miglia, so he had a relationship with Cisitalia, but I do not know the relationship with this car.
In addition, I have always liked this picture as it shows Tuvolari wearing his typical yellow turtle neck sweater, which he usually wore when he was racing.
Tazio Nuvolari In a Cisitalia T360
Apparently there are only two Cisitalia T360 cars. One was to be the prime race car and the other was built up later from parts. My guess is that the car in the Porsche Museum was the car made up from parts, as it has a basic paint job. I just can’t imagine that someone would take a car directly associated with Tazio Nuvolari, via this picture, and then remove the paint job to make the car indistinguishable from the other car.
I posted additional information about the Cisitalia T360 Grand Prix car on this website on January 3, 2013. Please check it out.