Cisitalia T360 Grand Prix Car

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.

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4 Responses to Cisitalia T360 Grand Prix Car

  1. 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.

    But exactly this happened: Porsche purchased the car, transported (for not saying smuggled) the car to europe and meanwhile ther will be rebuilt the second car also, in collaboration with Porsche who finally both will have a working car.

    Maybe in next future I will post a link to further information here.

    best regards

    • It does seem strange that Porsche would essentially wipe away a connection with perhaps the most legendary racer ever. I would appreciate any further information that you might have about this.

      On other thing, the picture of Nuvolari in the Cisitalia is the only color picture that I have ever seen of Nuvolari.


  2. NonSoloMacchine says:


    as you might know already actually the second car, which was never assembled to running condition, went to Germany.

    Some information about you find in the german journal “Motor Klassik”, a link to an online-article is follwoing here:

    Regarding Nuvolari (I never thought about this, strange, isn’t it?) I have to admit I do not know a colour-foto either, but I guess this discussion might bring further information probably.

    On youtube I have a playlist regarding Nuvolari, another regarding Cisitalia;
    you might find these when you search for “NonSoloMacchine”.
    Enzo Manzo has put a small film-sequence on youtube showing Nuvolari driving a Cisitalia Abarth 204 … terrific!

    Would you get me your mail-account?
    You can contact me on youtube also.

    Best regards

  3. I’m curating the final building – not a restoration of the ex-Donington Cisitalia. The colour photo was taken in 1950 for the January issue of Italian magazine EPOCA. The car was already painted in Argentine racing colours. Nuvolari was an ill man at that time already and just hired as the most well known person to the public in an attempt to find a party willing and able to spend the required Lire 50.000 by the liquidator of Cisitalia. Italian well known author Gianni Rogliatti was an engineering student in Argentina in 1952 and discovered the car in a remote corner of the Autoar factory in Buenos Aires. It was him who suggested to the directors to bring the car to life and make an attempt for the South American speed record. To answer your query re Nuvolari and the colors: The car was painted silver when it ran in Buenos Aires. I would be happy to share some photos with your readers but don’t know how to upload them.

    Martin Schroeder

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