Offered from the Oscar Davis Collection
$200,000 - $275,000 USD | Offered Without Reserve
| Monterey, California
- Believed to be the sole Ford bodied by Carrozzeria Viotti of Turin
- A beautifully detailed, hand-crafted speedster with boattail styling
- Reportedly built for Count Giovanni “Johnny” Lurani, racing driver, author, and automotive engineer
- Rides on a Ford chassis, with flathead V-8 power and a three-speed transmission
- Wears a patinated older restoration in striking red over red with black tonneau cover
When the subject of custom automobiles with Ford V-8 power arises, it is typically the brash American hot rod that springs instantly to mind. When this punchy flathead eight-cylinder powertrain was paired with the metalworking skills of Italy’s renowned craftsmen, however, the results were—as this 1935 Ford V-8 Spider by Viotti demonstrates—simply magnificent.
Little is presently known of this car’s history, although it is said to have been built by Turin’s Carrozzeria Viotti at the behest of Count Giovanni “Johnny” Lurani. The Italian Count was a noted racing driver, author, and automotive engineer; no stranger to radical cars, he chased speed and distance records before and after World War II in his “Nibbio” and “Nibbio 2” streamliners. With a powertrain that would have been novel in pre-war Italy and knockout styling, this machine would have certainly been worthy of a man of his tastes and stature.
At some point, the Ford made its way to Argentina, where it was reportedly discovered in the 1960s and exported to the United States. After arriving on these shores, it would remain in a private collection for over four decades. When acquired by Oscar Davis in 2015, it was wearing a patinated older restoration in eye-catching red over red, still present today.
Elements of this car’s highly coherent design bears a resemblance to some of the avant garde streamlined vehicles produced by Viotti in the mid-1930s, including a dramatic Isotta Fraschini 8B coupe. It has a distinctly motorsport-inspired stance, particularly with its tapered boattail; its dual side-mounted spares hint at endurance racing inspiration, if not intent.
Power comes from a standard flathead V-8 breathing through a single two-barrel carburetor and mated to a three-speed manual transmission, and a Ford chassis with front and rear transverse springs and a Ford rear end serve as its underpinnings. Ancillary components are drawn from a variety of sources; although the taillights are Ford, the headlamps come from Scintilla of Switzerland, while the horn is of Magneti Marelli manufacture. Carefully considered details abound: Even the tire air filler caps are mounted on the inside of the disc wheels, one of many thoughtful touches that contribute to the car’s aerodynamic exterior.
Interestingly, the car is right-hand drive, and the throttle pedal is mounted between the clutch and brake, two features not uncommon on Italian cars of the era. Although the car does not have provisions for a top, four stanchion receptacles behind the cockpit suggest that a luggage rack was fitted at one point—necessary for extended trips, given the limited onboard storage capacity. A black tonneau cover can be fitted over the cockpit for outdoor storage.
With its uniquely Italian styling offering an interesting counterpoint to the American boattail speedsters of its era, it is not difficult to see why this distinctive coachbuilt Ford caught Oscar Davis’ eye. Offered now from his collection, it would make for an intriguing addition to any serious stable.