The Isotta Fraschini history began with making cars in 1900. Automobile Production ceased in 1949. Today, after being acquired a couple of times, their current owners have them making various kinds of aviation and marine engines. The company began its existence in Milan, Italy and now makes engines out of Bari, Italy.
Cesare Isotta, Vincenzo Fraschini, and other Fraschinis started the company to make luxury cars, but also engines and trucks. It weathered the rigors of two world wars and a depression Italian-style. The company’s biggest claim to fame in the early 1900s was making memorable luxury automobiles. The company also made fast racing cars, some of which won a few races and traveled well in excess of 100 mile per hour.
Some say its cessation of car production stemmed from inability to obtain financing post-war. Isotta Fraschini had been making military vehicles for the war effort. The company needed to update it automobile designs, but was unable to do so.
In The 1950 motion picture, Sunset Blvd, aging silent film star, Norma Desmond, gushes about her hand-made Isotta Fraschini, 1929 Tipo 8A. Several scenes feature this automobile driving around Hollywood. The vehicle was meant to be manned by a chauffeur, and it was amusing to see Gloria Swanson talk to Eric von Stroheim over the car intercom. The mystique of this automobile was based on fact. Many actual silent film stars had owned Isotta Fraschini cars as status symbols. They included Rudolph Valentino and Clara Bow. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night uses ownership of a Isotta Fraschini by its main characters as a sign of their opulence.
Breda Motori bought the company in 1955 to make engines. For a while, they even made trolley buses. By the 1960, manufacturing had moved southeast to the coastal town of Bari under the direction of Fincantieri. What remains of Isotta Fraschini still operates there today.
- Year Started: 1900
- Year Ended: 1949
- Origin Of Name: Names of Founders
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Cesare Isotta, Vincenzo Fraschini, Oreste Fraschini, and Antonio Fraschini
- Owner While In Use: Several
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Bugatti
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Milan, Italy