Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wings of the Pegaso

The stunning Pegaso, a rare feat of nationalized sports car production that succeeded on a creative level, but fell victim to logistics and practicalities.

I was a mere lad, when I stumbled upon a lupine creature so stirring in it's wolfish stance and growl, that I immediately fell in love. It was an outlier, a car so fabulous that only it's extraordinary high-price could hold back it's potential as a world-beater.


After the war, Spain was reeling, economically and socially. The Civil War of the mid-1930's had thrown the country into chaos, and the second World War and Spain's tenuous ties to the Axis had caused it to be isolated and shunned by the West until 1959.
That's what makes this achievement so extraordinary. Far from the shores of the greatest car market on the planet, (the US), and bordered by resentful Western Allies, Spain had no business launching a sports car salvo against the established foreign manufacturers, but they did, and successfully on many levels. 

Wilfredo Ricart was a talented engineer/designer who had a run of unfortunate associations with companies that were financially fragile. ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.) was a Spanish vehicle manufacturing company, incorporated in 1946 having bought the automotive assets of the Spanish arm of Hispano-Suiza. It produced trucks, buses and military armored vehicles under the Pegaso and, for a short while, Sava brands. Enasa belonged to the state-owned INI industrial holding. 

For some incredible reason, they decided that the way to pull the moribund car manufacturing industry out of the post-war trough was to lead from the front and produce the highest-quality and most desirable car they could, and Wilfredo was the man to design it.
And what did they conjure from whole cloth and the scraps of Spanish industry?

Voila! The Pegaso z-102!

It was a beautiful design, with great power for it's day (clocked at 150 mph) and a wide variation in custom models., like the Bisiliuro.

There was the Z-102B Carroceria Berlinata Touring and the Spider Touring as well...

And the one that started it all for me? The very Berlinetta pictured below. It was at the Imperial Palace Casino in Vegas. A dark-skinned exotic beauty the likes of which I'd never seen before. I fell in love that day, and I'm still a sucker for the out-of-reach rare gems, and Pegaso is at the top of the list.

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