The Stanguellini Tradition
Story and photos by Lorenzo Marchesini
Situated in Northern Italy at the foot of the Apennine mountains, Modena is located about 15 miles west of Bologna. Modena is famous for the the Italian Military Academy, a centuries old University, numerous churches and piazzas and of course as the epicenter of "Motor Valley". As in most of Italy, the Modenese are fond of their wines, in particular Lambrusco, and their cuisine. It was here that the famous "tortellini" was invented.
But above all, they are fondest of their long tradition of race cars and engineering. While visiting Modena and adjacent areas, it became evident that everyone here is affected by the race car "virus". It made its entry in society in the early 1900's when Francesco Stanguellini first introduced the population to tricycles, Cerano and a SCAT, long before he started the first dealership for Fiat in the region.
The small race car was built for Francesco by his father Vittorio, along the lines of the Maserati F1 car of 1953. It was powered by a Ducati 98. In the background is the Fiat Zero with Modena 1 tags--the first ever car in Modena.
There were only 24 Stanguellini Sports 750's and 21 Stanguellini Sport 1100's ever made, some were twin cam, some were single cam
Early years of Stanguellini
In 1925 the Stanguellini operation gained national notoriety by establishing a racing team. When, in 1932 Francesco Stanguellini died he was succeeded by his son, Vittorio, still only 19 years-old. Vittorio had an extreme talent for engineering and guided the dealership along the lines that later would be picked up by another great of Italian motorsports, Carlo Abarth. From 1935 onwards Stanguellini became synonymous as a tuner of FIAT cars. Initially the cars built were 750's and 1100's but there was also an effort in the bigger categories such as 2800 cc, all based on FIAT mechanicals. The year 1937 saw the birth of the Squadra Stanguellini, a racing team that was composed of Baravelli and Zanella with Fiat 500's, Rangoni on a FIAT 508 Sport, and last but not least Severi on a Maserati 1500 that was thoroughly modified by Stanguellini. Severi finished 1st overall in the Targa Florio of 1937. The early years saw many more important victories for Squadra Stanguellini, one of the most memorable ones being the class victory of Baravelli at the wheel of a 750 Stanguellini in the Mille Miglia of 1938. With this victory the Stanuellini operation gained international fame.
Pre-War international successes included the triumph Baravelli in the 750 Stanguellini at the Tobruk-Tripoli race of 1939, a victory further underscored by the class wins in the 750 and 1000 cc classes at the Mille Miglia of 1940.
After World War II, Stanguellini operations were revived in 1946. Vittorio Stanguellini re-launched his team and in 1946 won the Italian National Championship for sportscars, while in that same year the 1100 Stanguellini with Franco Bertani at the wheel beat the Simca-Gordini driven by the maestro Amedee Gordini himself during the Belgian Grand Prix. The year 1947 saw multiple victories for the Stangellini cars and virtually no Sunday went by without a Stangellini being victorious somewhere. Stanguellini wins included the defeat of official Ferrari entries, notably when Vincenzo Auricchio in a Stanguellini 1100 won the Grand Prix of Pescara ahead of Cortese. Similarly at Florence the Stanguellini again finshed ahead of the Ferrari factory entry of Cortese, as Guido Scagliarini scored another victory on the Circuito Cascine.
In the years thereafter the Stanguellinis gradually used less parts from FIAT and by the early fifties they were fitted with a twincam engine entirely built in-house by Stanguellini, One of the most important 750cc International victories was that of the divers Behm-Haas-McArthur in the 12 hours of Sebring in 1957. By then Stanguellini had become a household name in the world of international motorsports. Those who visited Modena in those days were often referred by the local population as the "Visitors of the Kingdom of Miracles." Stanguellini was known as the "Dean of Sportscar Manufacturers" and there was a strong friendship between him, Ferrari and Sergio Scaglietti that continued until his death.
One regular visitor to the Stanguellini premises was five times World Champion Juan Manuael Fangio. Vittorio and Fangio were good friends and Fangio suggested many changes to the cars that would become so famous as Formula Juniors of the late 50s-early 60s. The Formula Juniors were very successful both in Europe and America, and the list of victories went into the hundreds. A similar to the number of cars were produced. The era witnessed Lorenzo Bandini in a Stanguellini battling with and often finishing ahead of the Cooper of Dennis Hulme, notably at the Grand Prix of Pescara in 1960. However, the rear engined Formula Juniors from Britain could not be beaten in the 1960's and the rear-engined car by Stanguellini, named the Delfino Formual Junior, a car of unrivaled beauty, failed to stop the march of the Brits as the Fiat 1100 was simply not powerful enough. Remarkably, the Delfino saw its one and only moment of glory when driven by Walt Hangsen as a driver for team Cunningham it won the pole position at Daytona in 1962, but retired during the race due to mechanical problems. A lack of sponsorship funding made further competing with the British teams impossible.
The last Stanguellini
The 1960s also were the years of the six Monza speed records set with the Guzzi powered Colibri Stanguellini, bodywork of which was designed by Franco Scaglione. The last race car racing car to leave the Stanguellini premises was a Formula 3 built in 1964. Once again a car with lines well ahead of its time, which must have provided an inspiration to the Pederzani brothers in Bologna, who were responsible for the incredibly successful Tecno F2 and F3 cars. Noteworthy is an attempt in 1971 to produce a Gran Turismo of beautiful lines called the Momo Mirage. Regrettably, this initiative, powered with a 5.3 liter Chevrolet engine, died prematurely due to the energy crisis in the early 70’s.
The Story (below) of the Stanguellini Sports Racers by Jim Jenné
- First published February 11th, 2004 on VeloceToday.com
- Photos courtesy of Jim Jenné
Stanguellini's DOHC engine so impressed the builders of the Mercury outboard motors that they purchased cars to find out how the Italians produced so much horsepower. This article focuses on the four Stanguellini sport race cars imported to the United States in the 1950s. Three of the cars were entered at Sebring in 1957, '58 and '59, and the fourth won its class at Watkins Glen when owned by Briggs Cunningham. It later held the land speed record for a 750cc car.
The cars featured here are tube frame aluminum bodied race cars that have a CS011xx prefix serial number for the 1100cc car, and CS040xx prefixes for the three 750cc cars.
In the early 50's E.C. (Carl) Kiekhaefer owned and ran the Mercury Outboard Motor Company, located in the Appleton, Wisconsin area. Kiekhaefer was a research driven person, and a fan of auto racing. He heard that Briggs Cunningham had won at Watkins Glen using a Fiat-based 750cc with a Stanguellini twin cam head that developed 60 h.p. Kiekhaefer needed to know more, and bought the car from Cunningham.
At Mercury they removed the engine and placed it on a dynamometer to check it out. After several tests the engine threw a rod which damaged the head and block; the tests were over.
Sandy MacArthur, a young engineer and motorhead in the Chicago area, heard about the blown motor and attempted to purchase the remains of the Stanguellini. Kiekhaefer wasn't interested in selling it at that time. MacArthur then asked Kiekhaefer if he would sell him a 40 cubic inch outboard to place in MacArthur's Bandini. This got Kiekhaefer's attention. During the winter of 1954, Mercury engineers rebuilt the Bandini with their 650cc outboard engine at no charge to MacArthur, who did very well with it the following year with full technical support from Mercury engineers.
Because of MacArthur's success, Kiekhaefer installed a Mercury outboard in the Stanguellini and won the land speed record for a 750cc car at Daytona Beach. The car was then sold or traded to Herm Behm, a local VW dealer.
CS04080 is now owned by a private collector in south Florida, equipped with an original Stanguellini 750cc twin cam (Bialbero) engine, once used in one of the four cars to run Le Mans.
Herm Behm, having the only Stanguellini in the U.S., contacted Vittorio Stanguellini in Italy and became the "official importer of Stanguellini cars in the U.S." The deal also gave Stanguellini a chance to have a car in the Sebring race for 1957. In that year, only factory entries were allowed, and with no advertising on the car.
The second car to arrive at Behm Imports in late 1956 was a "pretty" Reggiano designed body with the Stanguellini designed 750cc twin cam engine. Herm Behm entered it in the 1957 Sebring 12 hr.
Shortly afterward, Behm was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and contacted Sandy MacArthur and asked him if he could drive in his place at Sebring, with Carl Haas.
CS04088 with engine # CS04090, won its class, H modified. Behm's imported car business was off and running. He placed ads in Road and Track in July 1957 for Stanguellini "class winning 750cc and 1100cc cars." But Behm died by mid-1958. His widow Jane sold the Sebring winning car to a John A. Wetherbee of Milwaukee Wisconsin, to settle the estate. Wetherbee entered it in many events throughout the upper mid-west. The car was eventually parted out.
Today many of the parts, including the original engine and drive train, brakes, wheels, seats and other parts are being fitted to a remanufactured frame and body in Wisconsin. Before Behm died, Kiekhaefer wanted to do a bit more research on these high-horse power Stanguellini engines.
Due to the impressive 1957 750cc win, Kiekhaefer ordered an 1100cc Stanguellini Bialbero Sports Racer to enter in the 1958 Sebring enduro. It was CS01120, the car currently owned by author Jim Jenné.
Because of the "Factory Entrants Only" rule, the car was entered for Stanguellini under the name of Behm Motors. Kiekhaefer owned it and Carl Haas (Newman-Haas Racing today) and Alan Ross were hired as the drivers. Behm was very sick at this time, and Mercury Outboard engineer, Aldo Celli, of Italian decent, was sent by Kiekhaefer to the race to aid in the preparation and management of the race effort. The car finished in 21st place and 4th in class behind 3 Lotus 11 cars.
After the 1958 race the 1100 Stanguellini was shipped back to Wisconsin where Kiekhaefer and his staff of engineers toyed with the car. One of the engineers, Clem Johnson, liked the car very much and bought it from Kiekhaefer in January of 1959.
Johnson found it had a broken brake drum and that 2nd gear was gone. There was an extra brake drum that came with the car, but he had to order the gear from Italy and it did not come in time for the 1959 event at Elkhart Lake. So, he drove the race without 2nd gear.
This was the fourth and last Stanguellini to come to the U.S. and last to race the Sebring. In late 1958, after Herm Behm died, Sandy MacArthur met with Stanguellini in Italy and was named the new dealer in the United States. He then ordered a 750cc to race at the 1959 Sebring 12 hour. His friend Bob Roloson would co-drive. About half way through the race, and in 2nd place in class, a severe rainstorm began. Roloson lost control, hit a bridge and landed up-side down. He was not hurt, but the car was badly damaged and sold in pieces after the race. The body and chassis (with the serial number) went to Louisiana and the drive train went to Lou Laflin in the Chicago area. Laflin installed the engine and drivetrain into a homemade chassis with a Devin body, and raced it as a Stanguellini #97.
The story of CS04084 gets even more complex. In September 1958, a C. Richard Hatch of Rome America Motors wrote a letter to the R&T editor. "This car (the 59 Sebring entry CS04084) was built for a Ferrari engineer, the late Fraschetti" , and "it was designed by Scaglietti, Ferrari's chief designer, hence the one off body", and that "all other Stanguellini bodies are by Reggiano."
If so, CS04084 was built for Fraschetti in 1954. Per comments from Sandy MacArthur, Fraschetti was killed in it during a hill climb, and the rebuilt car was sold to a Francesco Siracusa. Siracusa's name is also on the owner list for CS01121 (the sister to my car) and on the entry list for LeMans 1957 with a 1100cc Stanguellini.
I suspect that Francesco Siracusa may have traded the Scaglietti bodied Stanguellini (CS04084) for the 1100cc model (CS01121)to enter Le Mans in 1957. Stanguellini then photographed CS04084, distributed press releases, and then sold it to Sandy MacArthur in August of 1958. The press assumed it was a new offering from Stanguellini, when actually, it was a five year old car!
CS04084 is still in two parts. A man in Louisiana owns the body/frame (with serial number) while another man in Wisconsin has all the running gear along with the remains of the Devin, as well as the running gear of CS04088. Because of conversations about this article, the two have reached an agreement. Louisiana man is building two replacement frames, one for his serial number CS04084, and one for Wisconsin man to be used to rebuild the 1957 Sebring winning car, CS04088, which he has the parts for. Wisconsin man will give up the original engine CS04084 for the replacement frame.
|Stanguellini Museum and workshop part 1 of 3|
|Stanguellini Museum and workshop part 2 of 3|
|Stanguellini Museum and workshop part 3 of 3|
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