Isotta Fraschini
Founded1900 (124 years ago) (1900) in Milan, Italy
  • Cesare Isotta
  • Vincenzo Fraschini
  • Oreste Fraschini
  • Antonio Fraschini
Footnotes / references
Original firm ceased automobile production 1949

Isotta Fraschini (Italian pronunciation: [iˈzɔtta fraˈskiːni]) is an Italian luxury car manufacturer, also producing trucks, as well as engines for marine and aviation use. Founded in Milan, Italy, in 1900 by Cesare Isotta and the brothers Vincenzo, Antonio, and Oreste Fraschini, in 1955 it was merged with engine manufacturer Breda Motori and renamed F.A. Isotta Fraschini e Motori Breda.


The firm was named for its founders, Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini, who had been importing Mors and Renault automobiles as well as Aster proprietary engines since 1899.[1] The company they founded as Società Milanese Automobili Isotta, Fraschini & C. on 27 January 1900 had the stated purpose to "Import, sell, repair cars". Prior to establishing their own products in 1904, Isotta and Fraschini assembled cars very similar to Renaults, with Aster engines. They differed from the real Renaults in having a neater underslung front radiator arrangement.[2]

The first automobile bearing this marque featured a four-cylinder engine with an output of 24 horsepower (18 kW). The car, driven by Vincenzo Fraschini, appeared in several races. In 1905, Isotta Fraschini gained notoriety in the Coppa Florio, where they entered a Tipo D with a 17.2-litre (1,050 cu in) 100 horsepower (75 kW) engine. For a short time in 1907, Isotta Fraschini merged with French automobile company Lorraine-Dietrich. The firm started making race cars using this same 100 horsepower (75 kW) engine, establishing the company's reputation and giving its name considerable cachet. It was also one of the first companies to successfully market cars with four-wheel brakes, following their invention by Arrol-Johnston of Scotland in 1909.[3] They were also among the early pioneers of overhead cam (OHC), with an engine designed by Giustino Cattaneo.[4] Isotta Fraschini introduced their Tipo 8, the first production automobile to be powered by a straight-eight engine, at the Paris Salon in 1919[5] and began delivering them to customers in 1920.[6]

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 1950 film Sunset Boulevard[7] and another appears in the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday with Fredric March. An Isotta Fraschini also makes a featured appearance in the 1946 film Without Reservations with John Wayne and Claudette Colbert. Also, an Isotta Fraschini was gigolo Lindsay Marriott's car in Raymond Chandler's book Farewell, My Lovely (1940) that was made into the motion picture Murder, My Sweet (1944), starring Dick Powell and Claire Trevor. The grille of the Isotta Fraschini with the lightning bolt insignia is seen parked in a ravine, right before Douglas Walton's character Lindsay Marriott is killed. An oversized Isotta Fraschini is also the vehicle of choice for Dick and Nicole Diver in F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1933 novel Tender is the Night.

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 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 the 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 the 1990s, attempts to revive the automotive industry of Isotta Fraschini were made. Concept-car coupe and roadster Isotta Fraschini T8 were built in 1996, and concept-car roadster Isotta Fraschini T12 was built in 1998. The company never went into production and closed for bankruptcy in 1999.

The marque was revived in 2022, with the announcement of a new motorsport chassis designed from scratch to compete in sports car racing, like the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, under Automobile Club de l'Ouest Le Mans Hypercar rules.



Passenger cars

Racing cars




Active economic entities

World Endurance Championship

A new chassis is designed from scratch to compete in sports car racing including the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, under ACO Hypercar rules. The car would eventually be named the Tipo 6 LMH-C.

The car has been designed by Michelotto Engineering (a long-standing Ferrari motorsport partner) with additional aerodynamic expertise from Williams Advanced Engineering.[11]

The LMH Hypercar rules allow for several configurations. Isotta have selected hybrid all-wheel drive with the hybrid energy delivered to the front axle. The internal combustion engine is a 3-litre V6.[11]

Isotta Fraschini is aiming for a 2023 debut of the Tipo 6 LMH-C in the FIA World Endurance Championship. To achieve this, they are partnering with the British team Vector Sport.[12] The car was initially supposed to make its racing debut in the 6 Hours of Spa, but its alleged first race has since been pushed back to the 8 Hours of Bahrain due the car's production running behind schedule, meaning they will miss the 24 Hours of Le Mans.[13] The Tipo 6 LMH Pista was presented at Paul Ricard, and completed laps with the GT1 Sports Club session as part of the 1000km of Paul Ricard weekend. [14] Both the Competizione and Pista variants took part in pre-race demos at the 2023 6 Hours of Monza weekend, wherein it was also announced that the car wouldn't be racing at the Bahrain weekend. Instead the aim is to complete the homologation process for the Tipo 6 LMH-C in late October. Vector Sport is prioritizing the test programme ahead of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship season, in which it hopes to contest the full season.[15][16]

See also


  1. ^ Nicholson, Tim (May 1971), Isotta-Fraschini: the noble pride of Italy, New York, NY: Ballantine Books Inc., p. 18, ISBN 0-345-02289-0
  2. ^ Nicholson, p. 19
  3. ^ Georgano, G. N. Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886-1930. (London: Grange-Universal, 1985)
  4. ^ Georgano. They were joined by Austro-Daimler's Prinz Heinrich, designed by Ferdinand Porsche, W. O. Bentley (in 1919), and Sunbeam (between 1921 and 1923).
  5. ^ Posthumus, Cyril (1977) [1977]. "War and Peace". The story of Veteran & Vintage Cars. John Wood, illustrator (Phoebus 1977 ed.). London: Hamlyn / Phoebus. p. 70. ISBN 0-600-39155-8.
  6. ^ Daniels, Jeff (2002). Driving Force: The Evolution of the Car Engine. Haynes Publishing. p. 48. ISBN 1-85960-877-9.
  7. ^ "ISOTTA FRASCHINI mod. 8 A". Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1938. London: Sampson, Low & Martin company Limited. 1938.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Gunston, Bill (1989). World Encyclopaedia of Aero Engines (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Patrick Stephens Limited. ISBN 1-85260-163-9.
  10. ^ a b c Grey, C.G. (1969). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1919 (Facsimile ed.). David & Charles (Publishing) Limited. pp. 1b to 145b. ISBN 07153-4647-4.
  11. ^ a b "Isotta Fraschini Aiming For Spa WEC Debut In 2023 |". Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  12. ^ "Vector Sport Partner With Isotta Fraschini For Factory Hypercar WEC Entry |". Retrieved 21 February 2023.
  13. ^ Watkins, Gary (5 May 2023). "Planned debut for Isotta Hypercar postponed to Bahrain WEC round". Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  14. ^ "The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 6 LMH Pista at Paul Ricard this weekend". Endurance Info. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  15. ^ "WEC: Isotta Fraschini Hypercar unlikely to race in 2023". 11 July 2023. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  16. ^ "6H Monza: Pre-Race Paddock Notes |". Retrieved 13 July 2023.