You don’t hear a lot about Spanish supercars, either as classics or as current models. Not only that, but the early ’50s was a pretty unlikely time for the country to be producing one. Spain had been through a civil war in the ’30s, WWII in the ’40s and was still in the grips of a fascist dictatorship. Yet somehow the semi-state-run Pegaso, a company that primarily built trucks and military equipment, decided to build a grand tourer. And not only did it build a grand tourer, but it built one of the most technologically advanced cars of its day, one that easily rivaled the cars built by the top companies at the time in desirability.

The name Pegaso is Spanish for “Pegasus”, although the company had this name before it started building sports cars, so any one-upmanship resulting from having a flying horse as a mascot when Ferrari’s merely pranced is coincidental. Still though, it’s the kind of coincidence that really works out. The car was the pet project of Pegaso’s chief engineer, Wifredo Ricart, who had gone to Italy at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War to work for Alfa Romeo, returning to Spain after WWII to eventually build this remarkable car.

Continue reading to learn more about the Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring.

  • 1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring
  • Year:
    1954
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    five-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    223
  • Displacement:
    3178 L
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring High Resolution Exterior
- image 652936
1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring High Resolution Exterior
- image 652940
1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring High Resolution Exterior
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The Z-102 has a unique look, one you would never mistake for another Touring design

The Z-102 was first shown to the public as a pair of prototypes, one convertible and one hardtop, in 1951. These were impressive, but they were also very heavy, and wouldn’t have worked as sports cars in that form. So Carrozzeria Touring was hired to give the car its Superleggera treatment, completely redesigning the bodies. They were lowered, got new grilles, fog lights and a number of different trim pieces. The steel body panels were also done away with, being replaced with aluminum. In the end, the car weighed only 2,600 pounds, and was also made more attractive.

And even though Carrozzeria Touring was doing plenty of other design work for other manufacturers at the time, most notably Aston Martin, the Z-102 has a unique look, one you would never mistake for another Touring design. This car has never been restored, but was repainted in 1981. So the paint isn’t exactly perfect, but the car has been remarkably well preserved considering its age.

Interior

1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring High Resolution
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Like the exterior, the interior hasn’t had the benefit of a restoration, but looks to be in great shape anyway. There is a little bit of wear, but no tear. No holes in the upholstery or carpet and nothing missing. The dash is dominated by a gauge cluster that is basically just three giant dials. This is actually a very similar design to one found in the 166 Inter, a car that Ferrari built from 1948 to 1950. It made sense in the Ferrari, but in the Pegaso, it looks slightly out of place, a little old fashioned for a car that was otherwise so far ahead of its time.

Drivetrain

1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring High Resolution
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The Z-102 was built to be competitive on the track as well as the road

The Z-102 was offered with a choice of three different engines, all of them V-8s. There was a 2.5-liter, a 2.8-liter and a 3.2-liter. This car started off life with a 2.8, but the first owner quickly replaced it with a 3.2 after he stared racing with it. The engine was very highly advanced, it had dual overhead cams and was all-alloy. It had hemispherical combustion chambers and 11:1 compression. There was even an optional supercharger available, although this car doesn’t have one. It produced 223 horsepower, and sent this to a five-speed rear-mounted transaxle. This last feature improved balance, and would eventually become standard on many high-end European grand tourer, but not for quite a few years.

Impressive as all of this sounds, the Z-102 was built to be competitive on the track as well as the road, but it ended up proving to be a less than stellar racing machine. They went to a number of big races, including Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana, but crashes knocked them out of both events. For all of its technology, the Z-102 was very difficult to drive at high speeds, and this kept it from being seriously competitive in motorsports.

Prices

1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring High Resolution Exterior
- image 652978

The Z-102 is very rare, with only 86 units being produced. Prices vary by quite a bit, but all Z-102s always go for a lot of money. The low end of pricing is around $700,000, while more expensive examples go for about $1 million. Where this particular car’s value would land I that spectrum is very difficult to say, since it hasn’t been sold since 1981 and has never had an owner outside of Spain.

It is going up for auction in New York, and RM Auctions hasn’t published a pricing estimate for it. It hasn’t been restored, but that sort of thing makes surprisingly little difference when its something this rare, and it has been exceptionally well preserved, to the point that it’s being offered with its original toolkit and spare tire. It does have the top-end engine, but not the supercharger, and this detail is probably what will keep the price under $1 million.

Competition

Ferrari 212

1950 - 1953 Ferrari 212 Inter
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Debuting the same year as the Z-102, the 212 was an early Ferrari road car, and one of the first to use the Colombo V-12. Models like these from the early days of the Company were built in very limited quantities, and the 212 is almost exactly as rare as the Z-102. As the final evolutionary step before the 250, the 212 was incredibly important to the history of the company, and these days they’re also incredibly valuable for anyone who manages to get their hands on one.

Read more about the Ferrari 212 here.

Mercedes-Benz 300SL

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 478514

The 300SL came a few years after the Z-102, although it was the same year that this particular car was built. And although Pegaso might have had Ferrari in mind as a competitor, it was the 300SL that was its true technological rival. The Merc was another powerhouse of cutting edge automotive technology, and arguably the most stylish car of at least the entire decade.

Read more about the Mercedes-Benz 300SL here.

Conclusion

1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta By Touring High Resolution Exterior
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The fact that Pegaso never evolved its sports car ideas beyond the Z-102, and then eventually went under entirely, is probably why the car is so obscure today. But it deserves to be better known, as it was a serious technical achievement. Differing accounts tell of different top speeds for the car, but the lowest is still 155 mph, and that would have made it the fastest production car in the world at the time. The differing accounts are probably why it’s never on official lists of the fastest production cars, but the truth is that it is probably more deserving of title of the world’s first supercar than the 300SL, the car that usually has this title bestowed on it.

  • Leave it
    • * Not supercharged, not numbers matching
    • * The paint has seen better days
    • * Even if it was slower, a Ferrari would be worth twice as much

Source: RM Sothebys

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