By ze2000
2 years ago

Pegaso, when car making was based on dreams

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ENASA, or in full, Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones SA, started out in 1946 building buses, along with trucks, all carrying the emblem of Pegasus, the flying horse. The factory in which they worked wasonce the centrepiece of Hispano-Suiza, where cars were made from 1910 (when the original factory near the centre of Barcelona proved too small) until the Spanish Hispano-Suiza company came to its end in 1944.
It was a very complete and spotlessly clean factory in which the assembly of the Pegaso engine was conducted as though it were a surgical operation. The firm's technicians maintained the strictest control over every little component - and indeed almost everything in the vehicles was made on the spot. This included steering gears, transmissions, springs and all the other parts that was the custom of other manufacturers to purchase from outside suppliers.
ENASA even worked out in their own laboratories how to make aluminium bearings, a secret formerly known only to a few German technologists, but important to Spain because of the then shortage of copper - an ironic situation in a country that had been the ancient world's main source of it, where the Rio Tinto used to run red with the stain of the metal.
The decision to build (exceptional) cars along with their commercial vehicle operation was taken not so much as to be a money making concern, but to train apprentices. There, as in other factories, newcomers to the industry's crafts had to learn to work to the very highest standards: they would work slowly, and the reject rate would be high, but the vehicles that emerged would be far superior to anything that might be seen coming from an ordinary mass-production factory.
To design the car ENASA hired Wilfredo Ricart, who had been with Alfa Romeo from 1936 until 1945. He was a Spaniard, born in 1898, with a history of design including sports cars, racing cars and diesel engines; and during his period with Alfa Romeo he added a 28-cylinder aero engine to his record, and a V16 three-litre Grand Prix car whose engine incorporated 64 valves, five superchargers, two carburettors, and roller bearings everywhere. History records him as a brilliant engineer, one with an overriding principal of doing things thoroughly or not at all, and he antagonised Ferrari so much when he went to Alfa Romeo that Ferrari soon left.
Ricart used to wear shoes with extremely thick rubber soles, and when Ferrari one day asked him why, Ricart replied that a great engineer's brain must be carefully sprung against the inequalities of the ground, in case its delicate mechanism were disturbed. The mechanism was still functioning well a decade later, when he returned to his homeland and to the design of the Pegaso. The car had the most mouth-watering specification of any in the world, being tantamount to a de-tuned Grand Prix racer with road-going body and equipment.
The latter showed in 1953 a Berlinetta that they christened Thrill, and to this day it remains one of the greatest production car designs ever: form-fitting seats and lap straps were a feature of the interior, but the most notable device was a pair of airfoil-section 'flying buttresses', extending from the hips to the shoulders of the roof, just behind the side windows. These were claimed to control the boundary-layer air flow around the sides of the canopy and over the extensively glazed tapering tail, and they were blended into the body panels with impeccable smoothness, the finish on this body being exceptional.
In another sense, the finish of the Pegaso was unfortunately nearer than could be anticipated. After producing yet more variants, known as the Z103, with pushrod V8 engines of 4, 4.5 and 4.7 litres, Ricart retired in 1958 and the policy of the company then changed in favour of concentrating on the heavy vehicles that had always been its mainstay. Only three or four Z103 cars were made, and only 125 Z102s, mostly to special order. The end was ugly. A general lack of interest went so far as to allow spare parts, moulds and bodywork to be sold as scrap metal. Much of the company's archives were also lost, with the consequent dispersion of the technical manufacturing drawings.

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2 years
Bilston The best car at the worst time.
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2 years
2 years
Borderline Nice!
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2 years
2 years
Tiggerfantoo they just don't make cars like this today, older cars were built properly
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2 years