Automobili Stanguellini is an Italian maker of small sports cars, based in Modena and founded by Vittorio Stanguellini; it was most active between 1946 and 1960. They continued to produce competition cars until 1981, when Vittorio Stanguellini died; thenceforth, the company devoted to vintage cars.
The Stanguellini family has had a long involvement with the motor car. Vittorio's grandfather founded an engineering company in 1879, and his father was the first one in Modena to register a car (in 1910, registration "MO 1"). "By the time Vittorio took over, in 1929, the family business included a FIAT agency.
Vittorio Stanguellini began tuning and modifying Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Fiat cars for racing. He was a friendly rival of Enzo Ferrari in Modena beginning in the late 1920s. Vittorio then formed Squadra Corse Stanguellini in 1938 and quickly found success when he modified a Maserati 6CM which took the overall victory at the 1938 Targa Florio.
Stanguellini's cars competed in countless sports car racing events, minor and major (such as the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans) alike. Vittorio Stanguellini used his experience tuning Fiats in the pre-war days, and having raced them under the Squadra Stanguellini flag, he based his small racers on Fiat components. Focusing on the 750 & 1100 cc classes (winning numerous National victories), Stanguellini sports cars were beautifully engineered cars with light-alloy cylinder blocks, twin overhead camshafts (bialbero) and dual side-draught Weber carburettors. This would add up to a claimed 60 bhp (40 kW) at 7500 rpm from the 741 cc sports engine and 90 bhp (70 kW) at 7000 rpm from the larger engine, providing top speeds of around 180 km/h (110 mph) and 190 km/h (120 mph) respectively.
Unlike many other of the so-called "Etceterinis", Stanguellini were loath to use foreign parts, instead relying on Fiat as much as possible. Bodywork was usually by local Carrozzeria Reggiano.
Vittorio Stanguellini tried very hard to gain a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, with his limited resources, he never was able to achieve this. His best finish was a fourth in class.
The Stanguellini 750cc Racing Engine
Vittorio Stanguellini had been making special aluminum twin-cam cylinder heads for the Fiat 1100 block since 1947. However, in 1950 he finished his most ambitious project: a complete 750cc racing engine - designed from a clean sheet of paper by Oberdan Golfieri, an engineer from Romagna, Italy. This was a light weight 9000 rpm engine based on a specially cast aluminum block and heads. Stanguellini racing cars achieved extraordinary success world-wide with this engine in the 1950s, including numerous national championships in Italy and France. Briggs Cunningham purchased a 750cc twin-cam car which he raced in the United States, along with a Stanguellini Formula Junior (See below).
Major race wins
- Mille Miglia 750cc class wins in 1938 and 1940
- Mille Miglia 1100cc class win in 1940
- Targa Florio 750cc class wins in 1938 & 1952
- 12 Hours of Sebring class win in 1957
In 1947, a Bertone bodied four-seat berlinetta was offered, using familiar Fiat 1100TV parts in a tubular chassis. This was also offered with a 1,500 cc engine. A Fiat 750-based two-seater was offered up the following year.
World speed records
In 1963, Stanguellini completed a streamliner called the "Colibrì" (Italian for hummingbird), powered by a 250cc Moto Guzzi motorcycle racing engine. This car set six international speed records at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in 1963.
Stanguellini single-seaters, "scaled-down lookalikes of the famous Maserati 250F" powered by Fiat 1100 engines, were competitive in Formula Junior, a category under Formula One that existed between 1958 and 1963. Stanguellini won the first season of the Italian Formula Junior championship, and "famous drivers like Bandini and von Trips won their first races in Stanguellinis." Walt Hansgen won the FJ race at the inaugural United States Grand Prix meeting at Sebring, Florida, on December 12, 1959, driving a Stanguellini.
More than 100 Formula Juniors were built by Stanguellini. However, with the arrival of British mid-engined racers like the Cooper and Lotus, the days of the Fiat 1100-based, front-engined racers were over. After 1966, the Stanguellini family concentrated their efforts on tuning equipment and subcontract design, while also running their Modena Fiat dealership.
- Oude Weernink, Wim (1996), "Italy's Craftsmen/Constructors: The Forgotten Few", in Norris, Ian, Automobile Year (Lausanne, Switzerland: Editions JR, J.-R. Piccard), vol. 44 (1996-97): 58, ISBN 2-88324-043-4
- Mike Lawrence (1991). A to Z of Sports Cars. Bideford, Devon: Bay View Books. p. 38. ISBN 1-870979-81-8.
- Luigi Orsini & Franco Zagari (2003). Stanguellini - Big Little Racing Cars. Milan, Italy: Giorgio Nada Editore. ISBN 88-7911-306-2.
- Competition Press, December 31, 1959, Page 8.