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Isotta Fraschini
Founded Milan, Italy (1900)
Founder(s) Cesare Isotta
Vincenzo Fraschini
Oreste Fraschini
Antonio Fraschini
Headquarters Milan, Italy
Products car,aircraft engines, marine engines, trucks
original firm ceased car production 1949

Isotta-Fraschini represents two Italian manufacturing companies which produce, respectively, marine engines and formerly trucks. In the early 20th century it was famous worldwide as a luxury car manufacturer.


The firm was named after its founders, Cesare Isottand Vincenzo Fraschini, as Società Milanese Automobili Isotta, Fraschini & C., on January 27, 1900. The motto was, "Import, sell, repair cars". Prior to establishing their own company in 1904, Isotta and Fraschini assembled Renaults.

The first automobile bearing this marque featured a four-cylinder engine with an output of 24 hp. The car, driven by Vincenzo Fraschini, appeared in several races. In 1905, Isotta-Fraschini gained notoriety in the Coppa Florio, where they entered aTipo D with an enormous 17.2L - 100 hp engine. For a short time in 1907, Isotta-Fraschini merged with French automobile company Lorraine-Dietrich. The firm started out making race cars using this same 100 hp engine, establishing the company's reputation and gave its name considerable cachet. It was also one of the first cars with four-wheel brakes, following their invention by the Arrol-Johnson Company of Scotland in 1909.[1] They were also among the early pioneers of OHC, with an engine designed by Giustino Cattaneo.[2] In 1924, the Type D was one of the first European cars with an eight-cylinder engine (following the first production straight eight by Rolls-Royce in 1905).

With the growth of the wealthy middle class in North America in the 1920s, Isotta Fraschini marketed deluxe limousines to the new American aristocracy. Early film stars Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino drove Isotta Fraschinis. A 1929 Tipo 8A Castagna Transformable is featured in the famous 1950's film Sunset Boulevard and another appears in the 1934 film, "Death Takes a Holiday" with Fredric March.

Seriously affected by the economic crisis of the 1930s and by the disruptions of World War II, Isotta-Fraschini stopped making cars after the war (1949). Only five of the last model, the Monterosa, were produced. The plants were converted to produce marine engines.

The company was still left on the company register and in 1955 it was merged with engine manufacturer Breda Motori and named F.A. Isotta Fraschini e Motori Breda. The company started to produce trolley buses again and in 1960s built a new diesel engine factory in Bari. In the 1980s the company was renamed Isotta Fraschini Motori SpA and it became part of Fincantieri group, with administrative headquarters in the old factory in Bari.

In 1990-s attempts to revive the automotive industry of Isotta-Fraschini were made. A Concept-car coupe and roadster Isotta-Fraschini T8 were built in 1996, and a concept-car roadster Isotta-Fraschini T12 was built in 1998.


1928 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A S LeBaron Boattail Roadster at the Imperial Palace Auto Collections in Las Vegas.

passenger cars

  • Tipo 8 1919 - 1924
  • Tipo 8A 1924 - 1931
  • Tipo 8B 1931 - 1936
  • Tipo 8C Monterosa 1948 - 1949

Racing car

  • Tipo D 1905 - 1907


  • D65
  • D80


  • TS 40F1
  • F1


Remnants of Isotta Fraschini survive as three Italian companies.

  • Isotta Fraschini Motori S.p.A.: An engineering firm specializing in diesel products, particularly marine engines, industrial engines, and rail traction engines, but also providing a wide range of civil and military engineering products and services. The company is part of Fincantieri group (a shipbuilding company).
  • Isotta Fraschini Milano, s.r.l.: A firm in Milan producing handmade Italian luxury goods since 2002.
  • Fabbrica Automobili Isotta-Fraschini S.p.A: A firm aiming to revive the automotive industry of Isotta-Fraschini. For some time the brand name belonged to the Italian Government.


  1. Georgano, G. N. Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886-1930. (London: Grange-Universal, 1985)
  2. Georgano. They would be joined by Austro-Daimler's Prinz Heinrich, designed by Ferdinand Porsche, W. O. Bentley (in 1919), and Sunbeam (between 1921 and 1923).

External links

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