Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Landaulet by Sala&Riva

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Isotta Fraschini


Tipo 8A Landaulet by Sala&Riva





Like many high end vehicles of the day, the car came from Isotta Fraschini as a chassis only. Bodies were typically from Italy’s top-tier coachbuilders, Carrozzeria Castagna and Cesare Sala, but other European and American coachbuilding firms lent their hands to the task of supplying bodies. It was the first serial produced car in the world to be equipped with a straight-8 engine. With this car the company gained great name and success as luxury car manufacturer. The main rival of the car was Rolls-Royce. The Tipo 8 was offered only with bare chassis and engine for the coachbuilders.

The Tipo 8's 5.9-liter overhead valve, overhead cam, was the first inline 8 engine offered in a production car. Initially producing 80hp (60 kW) and soon raised to 90bhp (67 kW). There was no exterior intake manifold, instead the twin carburetors attached directly to the block. Transmissions were three-speed manual. The car had top speed of around 85 mph (137 km/h) to 90 mph (140 km/h).

Conceived as a chauffeur-driven luxury conveyance, the Tipo 8 was aimed at the American market where it was the choice of such world-famous film stars as Rudolph Valentino and 'It Girl' Clara Bow. Other Isotta owners included press baron William Randolph Hearst and world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey

The Tipo 8 and its revolutionary straight-8 engine were the basis for its successors the Tipo 8A and Tipo 8B.

The Isotta Fraschini 8A was a car manufactured by Isotta Fraschini, successor to the Tipo 8 model with a new 7.3 litre straight-eight engine to replace the 5.9 litre unit used in the previous model. This new engine could produce 115–160 hp. This was the most powerful mass-produced straight-8 engine in the world at that time. The Tipo 8A was offered only with bare chassis and engine for the coachbuilders.

The Isotta Fraschini car company promised that every car could do 150 km/h (93 mph). The car was very luxurious and it cost more than a Model J Duesenberg. Around one third of these cars were sold in the United States.

The next step in the development of the larger eight litre was the 120 horsepower Tipo 8AS, with the “S” denoting a tuned engine, but to truly understand the difference between the 8A and 8AS is slightly more involved. This is highlighted by Angelo Tito Anselmi’s ground-breaking reference on the marque: “Until the spring of 1927, the Spinto, or tuned, versions of the 8 and 8A were made sporadically and resulted from a combination, optional to a certain degree, of three ingredients: a short wheelbase chassis, an engine with a high compression ratio, and a somewhat high numerical final-drive ratio. The fourth ingredient was lightweight coachwork, which Isotta Fraschini advised, but which was left to the client’s taste”. Chassis length on the 8AS was also negotiable, with many clients preferring the longer 3,708-millimetre wheelbase, which allowed for better body lines.

The standard Tipo 8A had a lengthy wheelbase of 145" (almost 3.7 metres) but for its more sportily inclined customers Isotta offered the 'S' and 'SS' models, which had a 134" (3.4m) wheelbase frame. These short-wheelbase versions were often fitted with a high-compression engine and a higher axle ratio for high-speed driving. Three forward gears were considered more than enough, the Tipo 8 being capable of accelerating smoothly from walking pace to its maximum in top, while each car came with a factory guarantee that it was capable of 145km/h.

The Tipo 8A's displacement was up to 7.4-liters, overhead valve, overhead cam, inline 8. Like the Tipo 8, there was no exterior intake manifold, instead the twin carburetors attached directly to the block. Transmission is a three-speed manual. The 8ASS (Super Sprint) package was also an option.

Roadster Commodore cabriolet was first exhibited at the 1928 New York Auto Salon at the Hotel Commodore., and was so popular that ten others, nicknamed "Commodore," were built.

As with all luxury automobiles of this era, for those with the greatest resources or desire for performance and individuality there options beyond even the standard 8A, these they designated as their Spinto or Super Spinto, the phrase appropriately translating as 'racy' or 'driven', these featured twin carburettors and higher compression engines developing 150bhp and rear axle ratios for higher speeds. Some was built on shorter wheelbase chassis frames, although the coachbuilders preferred the standard chassis on which to practice their finest art.

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