Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/7/18 4:08 p.m.

Photography Courtesy Amelia Island Concours

The Pegaso Z102 Concept

The study of automotive design through the years is fascinating because a visionary’s aesthetic concept or intent may not be understood or even appreciated when the design is first seen, but time has a way of vindicating great art and burying the merely pretentious.

Perhaps the most mysterious and wonderfully misunderstood example is Spaniard Wifredo Ricart’s exotic Pegaso coupe, the internally named 1963 Berlina, a one-off GT designed and built to race at Le Mans in 1953.

Also known locally as the Cupula for its inimitable, huge and outrageously wonderful rear window, which was as functional as it was distinctive, its advanced shape created heated controversy that continues to this day. The Cupula first appeared in subtle cream livery in Spain in 1952, but was radically revised for the 1953 New York Auto Show. There it was promptly purchased for some $30,000 by Rafael Trujillo, then “president” of the Dominican Republic, who had plans to race it in that year’s Carrera Panamericana.

Even now, after decades of speculation, the car’s conceptual origins are still unclear to many who have tried to unravel its erratic history and determine exactly who penciled its bold lines. Recently discovered photographic evidence has since clarified that question, but one thing seems certain: This radical, Spanish-built coupe’s rather unfamiliar shape certainly had some well-proven, late-’30s German aero-tech in its complicated background.

Wifredo Ricart was a brilliant engineer and contentious contemporary of Enzo Ferrari’s when both were with Alfa Romeo’s powerful racing team in the late ’30s. He moved back to Spain after WWII with the intention of transforming the sad remains of the once-prestigious Hispano Suiza name–which had been reconstituted as a government-backed manufacturer of trucks and buses called ENASA–into Pegaso.

Ricart’s intention was to create a series of low-volume, high-performance cars that would compete with the best in Europe for an elite, knowledgeable market. As an engineer with an aeronautical degree and a solid racing background with Alfa Romeo, he was most certainly aware of what a couple of distinguished German engineers had been up to just prior to the war.

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wannacruise New Reader
8/10/18 4:18 p.m.

Pegaso is a difficult Marque to follow considering that most if not all of the bodies where built by different Carrosseries.  From what I gather their underpinnings were all of the 'pressed steel platform' design which I believe was Ricart's work.  I believe I see a lot of Alfa design concepts in the drive line and suspension which is probably not surprising due to Ricart's time spent with Alfa in his early years.   I have to say that in my opinion all of the body designs are gorgeous but, not having a chance to see many Pegasos,  I wander if there has been much conceptual freedom in the rebodying efforts of the contemporary restorers.       

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