the Spanish diva who was to compete with Ferrari


Entirely designed and manufactured in Spain, the Pegaso Z102 is intimately linked to the engineer, Wifredo Ricart, born in Barcelona on May 15, 1897. In 1936, he fled the Spanish Civil War and joined Alfa Romeo, responsible for aircraft engines.

He then finds himself in the Biscione racing stable. Ricart will rub shoulders with Enzo Ferrari with whom relations are strained.

He returned to Spain in 1946 and participated in the creation of ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones SA) a state enterprise intended to remedy the shortage of heavy transport. The first truck produced will be called Pegaso and will give its name to the company.



The pontoon body developed in-house at Pegaso was very classic but not devoid of charm.  photo Pegaso

The pontoon body developed in-house at Pegaso was very classic but not devoid of charm. photo Pegaso

A truck company for a racing car

In 1949, the Spanish government wanted to restore the prestige of Spain, which was struggling to emerge from the civil war and was living in autarky. To affirm the know-how of Spanish industry, ENASA is asked to build a sports car under the Pegaso brand.

The money comes from the state coffers; nothing looks too good. To justify a high price, the project is oriented towards the top of the range; first of all, the steering is fixed on a sedan equipped with a 4.5 l V12. Quickly dropped in favor of a sports coupe with a 2.5-liter V12.

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great sophistication

Presented in Paris in 1951, the Z102 displays an expressive line, with a very long bonnet and a steep rear; quite massive, it does not shine with its elegance; Spanish designers are trying, like European coachbuilders, to adapt the pontoon line from America.

On the other hand, mechanically, it is a technological challenge; the chassis is made up of boxes forming a platform and incorporates the wheel arches and the engine compartment. Very rigid, it can receive all types of bodywork.

The front suspension is independent with superimposed wishbones; at the rear is a semi-independent De Dion axle. Braking is provided by four aluminum Lockheed drums.



The magnificent all-aluminum V8 had innovative technical characteristics for the time, such as sodium-cooled valves.  Technical refinement was above the productions of Enzo Ferrari.  Sotheby's photo

The magnificent all-aluminum V8 had innovative technical characteristics for the time, such as sodium-cooled valves. Technical refinement was above the productions of Enzo Ferrari. Sotheby’s photo

A superb competition V8

For its technological showcase, Ricart opted for a V8, entirely in aluminum to limit weight, open at 90° with forged aluminum pistons. The cylinder heads have hemispherical combustion chambers; the block is equipped with 4 overhead camshafts and a cascade gear distribution. Lubrication is by dry sump and oil cooler.

Solutions that are not adopted at Ferrari, which favors reliability. However, given the reactions recorded, Ferrari had better watch out…

As an option, the Z-102 could receive single or double barrel carburettors and even a Roots supercharger. The first version has a power of 140 to 160 hp, which is rare at this time.

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Power up

In 1952 the Z 102 B receives a 2.8 l engine which increases the power to 200 hp; with the optional compressor, we reach 260 hp. We will arrive from 210 to 230 hp with the 3.2 l version with carburettors. With a double compressor, the Pegaso delivers 280 hp. The Z 102 SS becomes the fastest production car of its time with a top speed of 260 km/h.

The gearbox is a copy of ZF 5-speed non-synchronised. Twelve examples in coupé version left the factories, as well as 6 convertibles and competition spiders. From 1953, ENASA will allow certain coachbuilders to dress the Z 102 in more enticing dresses.

It was first Touring, in Milan, with its aluminum « Superleggera » bodywork, then the French coachbuilder Saoutchik. In 1954, the Z102 was the first car in Europe to have seat belts.



The designer of Ukrainian origin Iacov Saoutchik will dress the Pegaso with more baroque and overloaded bodywork.  photo DR

The designer of Ukrainian origin Iacov Saoutchik will dress the Pegaso with more baroque and overloaded bodywork. photo DR

Touring body, the most elegant

The initial design of the Z102 is very little retouched by Touring but it is refined. Anderloni Bianchi replaces the front grille with a large chrome cross, incorporates vents on the engine cover. The drawing is elegant and sober, unlike Saoutchik who delivers a rather heavy style. In 1955, Pegaso entrusted Serra, a Catalan coachbuilder, with five Spiders for competition.

In 1956, at the Turin Motor Show, Touring presented a second series called Panoramique with a front bumper over the entire width of the car and no longer half bumpers. The windshield becomes panoramic, the headlights are more advanced on the fenders and the rear is also redesigned with lights on the top of the fenders.



The interior features were top notch in this 1954 convertible. photo Artcurial

The interior features were top notch in this 1954 convertible. photo Artcurial

The beginning of the end

A few competitive tests ended in failure, such as Le Mans in 1952 and 1953 where the Spiders were withdrawn after a crash during testing. This will penalize the reputation of Pegaso, unlike Ferrari, which relies on success in competition. With its very high price in Spain, the Z 102 does not sell. Touring will produce 42 cars and Saoutchik 19.

In total, 80 Z 102 and 4 Z 103 prototypes will leave the factories between berlinetta, cabriolet and spider. In 1957, the new government technocrats stopped the financing of the luxurious Z 102. They went so far as to erase all traces of the adventure; moulds, spare parts, bundles of plans and archives will be destroyed.

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