[ 1907 Itala 120HP Grand Prix ] ::
Another from a number of
high quality interesting photos sent to us by Mike Mackrill
(UK) who has a fascianating website called Nostalgic
Picture Library. Mike asks if our Group could help to identify this
vehicle, the image of which was taken many years ago in the
Austin workshops in Newport, Isle of Wight. It was a vehicle owned
possibly by the Cheverton family. Mike thinks it is a Fiat. The photo
has an intriguing annotation on the back which reads "...........
Peking to Moscow showing what repaired? spoked by the peasants in
Serbian desert." Two photos are attached for your perusal. Kind Regards,
Mike Mackrill; - Nostalgic Picture Library.
slightly cropped and and toned the photo, and we think the text reads :
Winner Peking to Moscow
Wheel repaired and spoked by the peasants of the Siberian Desert.
The car on the photo is not a
FIAT, but it is Italian. The badge on the radiator header tank and the
script on the radiator matrix both indicate it is an " Itala".
The company was founded in Turin in 1904 by Matteo Ceirano. The Ceirano
Brothers were largely responsible for starting the Italian motor
industry (Itala, Ceirano, Welleys/FIAT, STAR, SCAT, SPA, FATA, etc.)
They made mainly very large and powerful cars. Financial problems
resulted in closure of Itala in 1929, parts being sold to FIAT.
The big letters on the bonnet and on the petrol tank say, in Italian,
Paris Peking. This would suggest that this may have been the Itala
which took part in the 1907 trans-continental Peking to Paris rally/race.
The run started in Peking 10th June and finished in Paris on 10th August,
a distance of 9,317 miles (14,994 km). No roads, no maps, no petrol
stations, only following the telegraph wires! The winning car was a 1907
Itala 7 Litre 35'45 HP driven by Italian Prince Scipione Borghese and
Ettore Guizzardi. Spyker came second, Contal next, and followed by two
de Dion Boutons. Boughese was so confident of winning he took a detour
from Moscow to St Petersburg for dinner.
It is however quite unlikely that this was the car used because the original car did not have the
elaborate badges on the radiator but had a simpler strap badge on the
tank. This one also does not have the additional rear tank. In any case,
the original car is still preserved in original condition.
While we are not experts on Itala cars we are surmising that this is one
of a number of early Italas which were painted later in the colours of
the Peking to Paris winning car. Perhaps an exhibition capitalising on
the Itala legend.
From what has been established from subsequent internet research, it
would seem that the car in the photo was one of Itala's later 120HP
Grand Prix Team cars for the 1907 French Grand Prix, in which Itala did
not actually take part. They did however win in Brescia driven by Cagno.
This, and one other of these cars, were later purchased by Edgar
Thornton from the Isle of Wight (UK) and converted to road use, this one
having the registration DL 259. It went to Russia at some point for the
St Petersburg - Moscow race driven by H R Pope, coming third.
Edgar Thornton sold the second Itala, but on his death, and later
on the death of his wife, in 1931, this car was left to local garage
owner Frank Cheverton. So indeed this part of the story stacks up. Even
later still the 'Itala di Cagno' was to be seen at the Beaulieu Motor
The text on the back of the photo does not really help with the
detective work. Definitely not Serbia because Serbia is in
the Balkans and not on the route. For this car, even Siberia is a bit
suspect because, not being the original car, there is not a lot of
Siberia between St Petersburg and Moscow where the car is known to have