Pegaso Z-102, the unknown Spanish supercar

Une Pegaso Z-102 de 1954, carrossée par Saoutchik et exposée au salon de Paris 1954. Elle a été vendue 880 000 $ par RM Sotheby

It is customary to say that Ferruccio Lamborghini created his brand after a big dispute with Enzo Ferrari. We know less that he would not be the first to give such an answer. He was surely preceded by a Spanish engineer, Wilfredo Ricart. A brilliant engine builder, he was often at the forefront, for example designing a 1920s 4 valve per cylinder engine, creating a highly efficient racing car, the Ricart 226, or working for the prestigious Hispano-Suiza manufacturer. Nice resume, right?

Wilfredo Ricart will participate in the creation of ENASA, which will produce the Pegaso trucks, and will above all be the man behind the Z-102. He also participated in the constitution of Seat.

While fleeing the Spanish Civil War of 1936, this allowed him to enter Alfa Romeo, where, appointed director of special studies, he designed aircraft engines. Later, he finds himself in the Biscione racing team, after he bought it from Enzo Ferrari. Consequently, Ricart finds himself working with the Commendatore, with whom relations are so execrable that the latter leaves with a bang in 1938. Ferrari likes reliable solutions that work, Ricart extreme sophistication… In 1939 he will design the very sophisticated Alfa Romeo 512 racing, with mid-engine, which will be a victim of the Second World War…

The first Pegaso Z-102 produced, to be exhibited in 1951 at the Paris Motor Show.  Modern, but a bit clumsy, this body from the factory.
The first Pegaso Z-102 produced, to be exhibited in 1951 at the Paris Motor Show. Modern, but a bit clumsy, this body from the factory.

After the hostilities, Ricart returned to Spain and after a detour through the Studebaker subsidiary, he assumed the management of ENASA, Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones SA, created in 1946 from the rubble of the Spanish subsidiary of Hispano-Suiza to manufacture Pegaso trucks. . He also manages to secure substantial government funding to design the ultimate car that would become Spain’s technological showcase (that must have pleased Franco).

It was the Pegaso Z-102, laden with avant-garde solutions, that caused a sensation when it was unveiled at the 1951 Paris Motor Show. Ferrari had better watch out! Especially since the press is full of enthusiastic comments: “the purest jewel of car mechanics”, writes Automobile magazine.

Various ways to dress a Pegaso Z-102: the Touring coupé in the foreground, Saoutchik's to his right, accompanied by its convertible variant just behind, and in the background, the factory bodywork.
Various ways to dress a Pegaso Z-102: the Touring coupé in the foreground, Saoutchik’s to his right, accompanied by its convertible variant just behind, and in the background, the factory bodywork.

Furthermore, while Ferrari produces cars with very basic suspension (rigid rear axle, leaf springs), Ricart does exactly what he likes: he immerses himself in hyper-technology, equipping the Z-102 with a semi-independent De Dion rear axle, later very advanced. . A peccadillo, however, in front of the monument enthroned under the hood: a V8 with 4 overhead camshafts, made entirely of alloy and equipped with a dry sump.

This 2.5 l develops 180 hp in the S version, the most muscular, that is, a specific power of 72 hp/l, very unusual for an atmospheric street car block of the time. The box, 5-speed please, is installed in the rear, for better weight distribution. With its longest final gear, it allows the Pegaso to reach 230 km/h. Clearly, this technological monument is the fastest passenger car in the world! But that’s not all: it is also adorned with a neat interior, equipped for example with a height-adjustable steering wheel.

The magnificent 4-shaft V8 of the Pegaso Z-102, driving the coupé that the article illustrates.  You're even entitled to sodium valves!  In the cars sold, the displacement was increased from 2.5 to 2.8 liters, to obtain more torque.  Credit: R. M. Sotheby's.
The magnificent 4-shaft V8 of the Pegaso Z-102, driving the coupé that the article illustrates. You’re even entitled to sodium valves! In the cars sold, the displacement was increased from 2.5 to 2.8 liters, to obtain more torque. Credit: R. M. Sotheby’s.

If the factory body, admittedly modern with its “pontoon” look, lacks elegance, buyers can dress the car in Touring and customize it exactly how they want. However, this still adds up to an already colossal and completely unwelcome price tag in a then very poor and self-sufficient Spain. Result, sales do not take off. More seriously, while the car remains fairly unknown, it cannot count on the competition, due to lack of funds, to acquire the notoriety it lacks, unlike Ferrari.

Luxury cabin for the Pegaso Z-102 Look at the original shape of the gearbox control, this one with 5 gears.  Credit: R. M. Sotheby's.
Luxury cabin for the Pegaso Z-102 Look at the original shape of the gearbox control, this one with 5 gears. Credit: R. M. Sotheby’s.

He certainly participates in prestigious races, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but his lack of development prevents him from being competitive, or even finishing! In addition, it set a speed record on the Belgian Jabbeke motorway at 241 km/h in 1953. However, it was equipped with a compressor, so it did not correspond to the marketed model and the record will not be approved.

The Touring body is perhaps the one that best suits the Pegaso Z-102.  It was offered from 1952 to 1955.
The Touring body is perhaps the one that best suits the Pegaso Z-102. It was offered from 1952 to 1955.

Furthermore, if the Z-102 is the most modern and fastest car in the world, nobody knows and it fails its shot, that of being a locomotive for the Pegaso trucking firm. If a simplified and therefore cheaper variant of the Z-103 is released, it will only be sold in a handful of copies. ENASA stopped spending in 1958 and thanked Ricart in 1959 (later set up as a consultant). It also didn’t help that the Z-102 is produced almost entirely in Spain, with little export orientation and the establishment of a real dealer network.

84 Pegaso Z-102 would have been made, mostly dressed in Touring and Saoutchik, which remains anecdotal. Shame. Ricart was too concerned about technology and not sufficiently profitable, so he lacked pragmatism in automotive matters… Exactly the opposite of Enzo Ferrari in short, but there, for the worse.

#Pegaso #Z102 #unknown #Spanish #supercar

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