The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Blog

1983 Best of Show Winner

March 24, 2021

1930 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A SS Castagna Special Sports Torpedo shown by Irwin Ginsberg, M.D.

Eleven fine examples of the marque Isotta Fraschini pulled onto the lawn of The Lodge at Pebble Beach in 1983, the year the marque was featured at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. This particular 1930 Isotta Fraschini, exhibited by Dr. Irwin Ginsberg of Buffalo, New York, won the featured class. Moreover, it earned the marque its first Best of Show at Pebble Beach.

“My heart almost stopped,” said Ginsberg later. “It was the ultimate dream.”

Manufactured in Milan from 1900 through 1950, Isotta Fraschini quickly became a favorite with celebrities and royalty, but it was the introduction of the Tipo 8 that garnered greater sales for the marque. The early version of this eight-cylinder, 5.9-liter engine, introduced between 1919 and 1921, had a rather modest output of 75 to 80 bhp at 2200 rpm. But the 7.4-liter Tipo 8A, introduced in 1924, increased the output to 110 to 120 bhp at 2400 rpm. It also had a stouter chassis, larger brake drums with vacuum-servo assistance, and rode on larger section tires. Spinto and then Super Spinto versions with higher compression ratios and other tuning devices were introduced later. It was said that a short chassis 8A SS with sporting body could exceed 100 mph, and indeed one such car with a torpedo body finished admirably, in sixth place, in the very first Mille Miglia.

1930 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A SS Castagna Special Sports Torpedo

This particular Tipo 8A SS bears a rare (one of just two) Castagna dual-cowl torpedo body—a design displayed by Castagna at the 1933 Paris Auto Salon, and one of just two such cars known to exist today.

The car was first owned by Mr. Penn of the Lucky Strike Company, and Ginsberg purchased the car from his estate. General William Lyon of Newport Beach, California, purchased the car in June 1985, and it remains with the William Lyon family to this day.

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