1954 Pegaso Z-102 Berlinetta Was the Spanish Ferrari and the Fastest Car in the World

In 1951, a very special kind of exotic began being made in Spain, at the former factory of another legendary company, Hispano-Suiza. It’s called the Pegaso, the flying horse, designed to compete with the prancing horse, Ferrari. Only 84 of these Spanish sports cars were made until 1958, each painstakingly crafted using coachwork techniques to their respective chassis.

If we’re more precise, we’re looking at one of 18 award-winning bodies made by Carrosserie J. Saoutchik of Neuilly-sur-Seine (Paris). Of those, only 5 LHD cars are known to have surived. In addition, this is maybe one of the most iconic Pegasos, which was presented on stage at the 1954 Paris Motor Show, and it’s worth a fortune: $880,000 at auction in 2016.

Originally, the Pegaso Z-102 was designed in-house by chief technical manager Wifredo Ricart. But because he used to be the chief engineer at Alfa Romeo, it looked distinctly Italian, whereas the unique touch of Jacques Saoutchik. His flamboyant touch influenced the bodies of many cars in that era, including Bugatti, Delahaye, Talbot, Hispano-Suiza, and a special Cadillac (Series 62 drophead).

The fact that this is the car presented at the Pegaso stand at the 1954 Paris Motor Show is actually very significant because of the whole ambition surrounding this project. Spain was being run by the Francoist dictatorship at the time and the economy wasn’t looking so hot post-WWII.

The Pegaso was supposed to bolster the country’s reputation by being a direct rival to Ferrari. But the Z-102 Berlinetta was no fake sports car. It was filled with excellent engineering, including a four-cam aluminum alloy V8 with dry-sump lubrication, which was amazing for the time, as was the 5-speed transaxle manual gearbox.

The all-original drivetrain is retained in this rare example, producing a respectable 195 horsepower thanks to four-barrel Weber carburetors and an 8.1:1 compression ratio. It had a multi-link front suspension and a De Dion rear axle. With a top speed of 244.62 km/h (151.99 mph), this was the fastest street-legal production car in the world at the time, a record that was only taken by the amazing Mercedes-Benz 300SL.

Previous ownership and restoration

After being displayed in Paris, chassis number 0148 won two awards and was featured in the January 1955 “Annual Show” issue of Road & Track magazine. In February to a resident of the capital Madrid, Don Julian Sanchez Araguena. After that, it was bought by US Air Force pilot Garland W. Burke, who eventually shipped it over to the United States.

In 1989, it was bought by Arthur L. Foley III, who commissioned an engine restoration in Europe. It now retains most of its original components, though everything from the interior to the paint has been restored. “Unique” is a word that perfectly describes the 1954 Pegaso Z-102 Berlinetta Series II, so enjoy this rare walkaround video from Lou Costabile, shot at the Arizona Concours d’Elegance.



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