1946 Cisitalia 202-Chevrolet "Mystery Car"

June 22, 2012:  Jim Abrams is the current owner of this the car identified here as a 1946 Cisitalia Pininfarina.  This car is not presently a documented example of the cars produced by Cisitalia. 

From Alan Szarek:  "Mr. Abrams story and his introduction to the car begins some time around 1985.  To paraphrase his words; “my ex-wife introduces me to her father who has this car under wraps in his garage in Mill Valley , Ca.”  At that time it was a running driving car.  Subsequently the car has been disassembled and partially restored.

The car is a one piece steel bodied cabriolet. Mr. Abrams further explains that the person his father-in law worked for was more or less given this car sometime prior to 1985.  The story that has been carried along states that the Cisitalia was brought from Italy and that it is a prototype body built by the Italian coach building firm Pininfarina utilizing a Fiat Chassis."

The following excerpts from Wikipedia define Cisitalia and highlight the significance of the body type this car has:

"Cisitalia was an Italian sports and racing car constructor. The name "Cisitalia" derives from "Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italia", a business conglomerate founded in Turin in 1946 and controlled by the wealthy industrialist and sportsman Piero Dusio. Dusio participated in a single World Championship Grand Prix, driving a Cisitalia D46.

Building on aerodynamic studies developed for racing cars, the Cisitalia offers one of the most accomplished examples of coachwork (the automobile's body) conceived as a single shell. The hood, body, fenders, and headlights are integral to the continuously flowing surface, rather than added on. Before the Cisitalia, the prevailing approach followed by automobile designers when defining a volume and shaping the shell of an automobile was to treat each part of the body as a separate, distinct element—a box to house the passengers, another for the motor, and headlights as appendages. In the Cisitalia, there are no sharp edges. Swellings and depressions maintain the overall flow and unity, creating a sense of speed."


"Generally speaking having a VIN number or chassis number is a good way to begin tracking down the lineage of any car.  This car presents at best a puzzle in this regard.  Because this car has been disassembled and is currently  in the process of a rebuild it has been thoroughly inspected over all the surfaces that might have significant identification marks.  Except for FIAT1500*046366 there were no identifying marks on the chassis or body.  Without more pieces to this puzzle the exact origin of the chassis/body combination may remain a mystery.

The original Fiat 1500cc engine has been removed and was replaced with a Chevrolet Corvette engine in about 1955.

As stated by Mr. Abrams the engine number 00600786F56GL appears to be for a 1956 265 cu. in.  Corvette engine built in Flint Michigan equipped with the GL Power Pack.  The decoding information I have found indicate that the numbers before the letter “F” should have 8 digits however.  If the number is correct except for the missing digit I believe the engine is from a 1956 Corvette."

Details for the Power Pack; from Motor Trend online:

Small-Block Chevy V-8 through the Years

10 Milestones in Chevy's Great Eight History:   265 Turbo-Fire V-8

"The 265 arrived on the scene with a 3.75-inch bore and 3.00-inch stroke (95.2 - 76.2 mm). It made 162 horsepower and 257 lb-ft in base form with a two-barrel carburetor. An optional Power Pack added a four-barrel carburetor (and other modifications) taking power up to 180 horsepower and an even 260 lb-ft of torque. When fitted to the Corvette, the 265 made 195 horsepower through a dual exhaust system. Later in the year Chevrolet added a Super Power Pack option to the Bel Air, taking it to Corvette power levels.

In 1956, the 265 in the Corvette was available in three more powerful flavors: 210 horsepower with a single four-barrel carburetor, 225 horsepower with "dual quads," and 240 horsepower with the dual four-barrel carburetors and a high-lift camshaft. Its compact size was made possible by consolidating accessories. According to GM, it used a one-piece intake manifold that combined the water outlet, exhaust heat riser, distributor mounting, oil filler, and valley cover into a single casting." 

"I am unsure what transmission was in the car when it was built.  At this time the owner is unsure what transmission was behind the Corvette engine.  I will be in contact with the owner and clarify these details.

The body has received a great deal of attention during the restoration process so far.  Following a total removal of the existing paint it was decided that the metal on the front and rear sections  were beyond salvaging.  A grid was established on the existing metal, wooden forming bucks were built and new metal was formed according to the grid.  The exact shape of the grille opening, the headlight placement and the “portholes” were somewhat subjective at this point.  There being little or no existing information on this particular body.

Around this time the chassis also received additional attention.  The Fiat components that comprised the front suspension were removed and preserved.  A modern Heidts clip was modified and has been fitted.  Acquisition of additional components to complete the suspension using modern aftermarket parts is currently underway.

The rear end currently in the car is believed to be an early Oldsmobile."

"During early 2012 Mr. Abrams halted the restoration process.  He feels the project is at a tipping point.  If some supporting documentation is uncovered they may want to rethink the Ameri-Italian Hot-Rod approach to the suspension and perhaps other portions of the project.  Because Cisitalia 202’s from the same era have become exceedingly valuable many of the craftsmen involved with the project feel it would be better to restore it to minimally 1955-56 condition.  If on the other hand current albeit insufficient documentation is all that can be obtained they may go forward in the modern suspension and various other component avenue."

More photos on Alan's Picasa album.

Alan Szarek is looking for information on the identity and history of this car.

If you can help Alan:   Please email me!

(2-29-13)   From James Peacock:

"Neat old car. Definitely not a Cisitalia they were all RHD and alloy body. This looks like a early Fiat 1100 -1500 Pinin Farina cabriolet. Unusual that it is steel though. Most are alloy. Was trunk and hood Alloy?  Since the car is so modified the chassis number may not be still stamped in right front frame rail near front suspension point. You sure did a lot of work on it. If you ever want to bring car back to original I have a complete frame. If you want to sell the original front and rear suspension I would be interested. Please send me pictures when complete. A beautiful little car."

(2-29-13)   From your webmaster:

"Scan waaaaaay down this page to 1952 Siata 208 CS Bertone."

(11-1-13)   From Antonino Puleo:

"I'm sure that the trunk handles and the steering wheel come from an early Simca 8 Sport.

The late 202 Cabriolet with Vignale coachbuild have similar bumpers.

There are many difference between Simcas and Cisitalias. 1st of all the Cisitalias have a lightweight tubular chassis made for racing, in fact the 202s were often used in competition.  The Simcas were just luxury cars, no more. Nowadays you need less than 50k euro to buy a Simca...what about a Cisitalia?

The car we are talking about doesn't have a tubular chassis and alu body, so I dont think it is a Cisitalia. In my opinion it is more likely it is a Simca."

(2-16-14)   More from Antonino Puleo:

"Now thqt I finally saw the dashboard I can say the car is a Fiat 1100 Cabriolet Farina (a Simca 8 Sport sister). They have similar bodies, similar engines, but some differences like the dashboard."

Next:   Jay Rodgers' Kurtis 500M

Back to:    Frank Mons' Elva Mk.5

Back to:   Mystery Cars  -- 3