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1952 Lazzarino Sports Prototipo Racing Car

1952 Lazzarino Sports Prototipo Racing Car

The 1952 Lazzarino Sports Prototipo racing car was a one-off vehicle built in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1952, but the story behind the car starts in 1927 when Juan Lazzarino emigrated to Argentina from Italy. He brought his ons Bautista and Miguel with him and the trio set up a small metal fabrication shop in the city’s La Paternal district.
Their goal was to re-body automobiles for the aristocracy of the area. For the 1934 Eucharistic Congress, they crafted a special vehicle for Cardinal Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII. By the 1940s, the Lazzarinos were recognized as talented coachbuilders. In the post World War II years, Bautista (also called “Tino”) took over as the head of the shop. He got involved with sports and racing car design. Many prewar cars were retro-fitted with aerodynamic sheet metal. 
The chairman of Ford of Argentina came to Tino to have a racing car created. The idea was to have a car powered by a flathead Ford V-8 that was being built in Argentina and to have that car compete against racing machines made in other countries. This resulted in the 1952 Lazzarino seen here. 
Hand-hammered sheet metal formed the body of the prototype racing car. It was attached to a hand-welded steel tube frame. Hand-formed aluminum panels made up the floor, transmission tunnel and instrument panel. Hand-drilled brake backing plates were fitted and even the foot pedal assemblies were drilled out to make them lighter, The car used a custom-built independent A-arms front suspension. 
In 1954, the car won a road race named after Argentinian President Juan Peron and it continued to appear in races, in Argentina, through the 1970s. Sometime after that it was retired and Belgian car collector Paul Gant acquired it.  Eventually, the car came to the United States and was restored.
In recent years, the Lazzariono has appeared in the 4,200-mile Pan American Great Race from Philadelphia to San Francisco and in numerous other vintage racing events. Actor James Franco also drove it in an advertisement for the Italian fashion designer Gucci. Most recently, it was featured in the racing car class at the Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance.