Rear-view mirror: Ansaldo

Wendy Monk picks out some interesting historic items from FMM’s photo archives, some with a story, others with info required…

Hands up who has ever heard of an Ansaldo? It was an Italian motor car manufactured in Turin by the armaments concern Gio Ansaldo & Co from 1921 to 1931. The company entered car manufacture with a tourer model powered by an overhead-cam  1 847 cm3 inline-four that developed 27 kW at 3 600 r/min. Later, a 1 981 cm3 sports version was offered, as was a 1 991 cm3 six-cylinder version. Later six-cylinder cars were offered with engines of 2 179 cm3. Among the company’s last cars was a 3 532 cm3 overhead-valve straight-8.

Ansaldos were generally of good quality and modern design, and competed in many races and, especially, hill climbs. Famous racing driver Tazio Nuvolari drove one in 1921, as did Bentley Boy Woolf Barnato. The picture shows an Ansaldo at the Pretoria Motor Club’s’ Zila Kats Nek’ Hill Climb on 2 November 1924 – today, the place is known as Zilkaatsnek or Silkaatsnek – which is situated in the North West Province on the slopes of the Magaliesberg and the banks of the Hartbeespoort Dam. The car was driven by S J Rosenberg and recorded fastest time of the day with ‘1 minute, 5-and-1/5th seconds…! The observer was G McFedzean and the others in the picture were J H Roche and C Helmbold.

I wonder whether this car still exists and, if so, is it still in South Africa?