Words and pictures: Motostalgia
Coinciding with the acclaimed Concours d’Elegance, Motostalgia’s Amelia Island auction (11 March) will be headlined by the Classiche certified 1950 Cisitalia-Abarth 204A, built by motorsport legends Piero Dusio, Carlo Abarth and Ferdinand Porsche, and driven by the one and only Tazio Nuvolari.
The 1950 Cisitalia-Abarth 204A, which was raced extensively by Nuvolari, is Classiche certified with the highest grade of originality by Abarth. Chassis 04/08 is the first car to be registered by Carlo Abarth under the Abarth banner and one of the last cars that Ferdinand Porsche was involved in creating before establishing his own company. It is also one of the last three cars Cisitalia produced before Piero Dusio closed the legendary Turin factory.
"At the first bend, I had the clear sensation that we would end up in a ditch; I felt myself stiffen as I waited for the crunch. Instead, we found ourselves on the next straight with the car in a perfect position. I looked at Nuvolari. His rugged face was calm, just as it always was, and certainly not the face of someone who had just escaped a hair-raising spin,” – Enzo Ferrari, shortly after riding as a passenger with Tazio Nuvolari during pre-race practice.
“The greatest driver of the past, present or future” – Ferdinand Porsche
The Cisitalia marque was founded by the larger-than-life Piero Dusio, who enabled Ferry Porsche to pay for the release of his father Ferdinand Porsche from prison in France to work at Cisitalia and create some of the most iconic and historically significant post-war European sport cars. With the Cisitalia 202 hailed as one of the most beautifully designed automobiles and honoured in the New York Museum of Modern Art, this 204A, last raced by Tazio Nuvolari, and the Typ 360 Grand Prix project that would ultimately bankrupt his company, ‘Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italia’ Cisitalia made its mark as one of the most important Italian manufacturers of the post-war era.
Ferdinand Porsche and Carlo Abarth worked under Piero Dusio’s direction at Cisitalia until the marque’s ill-fated yet ambitious 360 Grand Prix project, the financial burden of which resulted in the firm’s bankruptcy. Porsche went on to found one of the world’s most successful automobile brands on his own, while Carlo Abarth received in severance Cisitalia’s production equipment and three historic 204A cars. Chassis 04/08 became the 204A Spyder Corsa that Carlo Abarth remanufactured to Tazio Nuvolari’s specific competition requirements.
Fully documented with Abarth Classiche certification, FIA passport, FIVA card and original documents, the car is the subject of extensive period photography and this superb 1950 Nuvolari video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C4WUJ83X-4
With verified certificates of origin, chassis 04/08 has a documented racing pedigree of legendary magnitude. First raced at the 1950 Targa Florio by Tazio Nuvolari, it was the 1950 Palermo Monte Pellegrino race that will go down in history as the last race Nuvolari participated in and won.
Nuvolari’s racing career began in 1927 and he went on to score more than 72 major victories, but it was this 204A Cisitalia-Abarth that successfully carried him to his final winning podium in 1950, shortly before ‘The Flying Mantuan’ died of natural causes in 1953. The Cisitalia-Abarth continued its impressive racing career in the 1950 Mille Miglia, an outing at the Gran Premio di Napoli, and winning the Grand Premio di Pergusa and Buenos Aires 1000km, as well as taking part in 18 Grands Prix between 1950 and 1958.
Awarded the Premio Speciale at the 2012 Mille Miglia Storica as the most historically relevant automobile entry, this 1950 Cisitalia-Abarth 204A Spyder Corsa is a secure passport to participate in the most prestigious racing and concours events around the globe.