19-20 January 2017

Previous Next

Lot 232

1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Landaulet by Sala & Riva

  • Chassis no. 655
  • Engine no. 664

Sold for $434,500

110 bhp, 7,370 cc OHV inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel power-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 146 in.

  • An exceptional original and unrestored Isotta Fraschini
  • Retained by Isotta Fraschini for over 90 years and never officially “sold”
  • Incredibly preserved and largely untouched
  • The earliest known Tipo 8A; likely the first example built
  • Perhaps the only opportunity to become the first owner of a Full Classic

According to the Societa Isotta Fraschini, the car offered here, chassis number 655, is the earliest known example of the company’s most famous and prestigious model, the Tipo 8A, and may well have been the first built. It was bodied by Cesare Sala of Milan, one of Italy’s premiere coachbuilders and one with a very close relationship to Isotta Fraschini, as Oreste Fraschini, a member of the founding family, occupied a seat on Sala’s board. Subsequently, around 1926, solid side-mount covers and special interior woodwork were fitted by Carrozzeria Riva, whose secondary coach tag is found directly under Sala’s on the body. This is believed to have been the only Isotta Fraschini that had two different Classic Era coachbuilders involved in its construction.

According to Isotta historian Angelo Tito Anselmi, in his famous book on the marque, the car was recorded as being sold to Filippo Bolzari of Milan, but there is no evidence that the vehicle was ever actually delivered to him, as no viable records survive noting the delivery. The current owner was informed that the car had been produced in 1924 as a demonstration chassis for the factory. As these cars were frequently driven by chauffeurs, Isotta Fraschini held training sessions for future drivers and used this particular chassis as the sample and training vehicle. Isotta Fraschini afterward put the nearly new automobile into storage at a warehouse, offsite of the factory, thus saving it from destruction when the Works was obliterated during World War II.

In 1993, the Isotta Fraschini name was revived by a partnership between Audi and coachbuilders Fissore. They eventually sold the name to Finmeccanica, an Italian defense, aerospace, and security company, and in the course of that deal, chassis 655 was discovered, still in the warehouse, which had remained in company ownership and largely forgotten. The current owner purchased the car directly from Finmeccanica and had it imported to the United States, for the first time in its life, in July 2016, 92 years after it was built.

The car has been cleaned and mechanically serviced, but it remains otherwise almost entirely original. Its finishes—inside, outside, and underneath—are all remarkably preserved, and scarcely even patinaed! Remarkable as it seems, the paint is original from 1924, as is, it is believed, the interior; there is, for instance, original Italian writing on the back of the carpeting. There is some evidence that the wiring was repaired in its Finmeccanica ownership, in addition to other cosmetic and mechanical maintenance, such as taillights modified to meet modern Italian laws. Nonetheless, the car is still, for all intents and purposes, “new”—the only Isotta Fraschini that has remained that way since the Classic Era.

This treasure is accompanied by a large collection of documentation, including that from the Societa Isotta Fraschini, and, most importantly, both the Bill of Sale between Isotta Fraschini and Finmeccanica, and the Bill of Sale to the current owner. The latter documents are the only sales receipts from this car’s entire history; thus, the buyer at this sale will become the last person to become the first official owner of a “new” Isotta Fraschini—one that the factory liked well enough to never sell it.


Please note that the original tires were replaced for road worthiness, though two of the original tires were retained and are mounted on the spare sidemount wheels.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more