- Credit: Louwman Museum

Meet the wonderful one-off Pegaso Cúpula

Could this concept be qualified as 'art on wheels'?

45w ago

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After WWII, a Spanish engineer and designer Wilfredo Ricart returned from Italy to his home city of Barcelona with a mission to be the head of the new vehicle manufacturer. The, so called, ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones SA) was established in 1945, and they wanted Ricart to lead their brand Pegaso. At first, the brand was making buses, trucks and military vehicles, but that was not enough for Ricart to show his full potential.

You can see that Ricart was very creative with his designs even on coaches. Credit: Myntransportblog.com

You can see that Ricart was very creative with his designs even on coaches. Credit: Myntransportblog.com

You see, before and during WWII, he worked for Alfa Romeo. And when you work for a company that makes art on wheels, you get sucked into that world of automotive masterpieces.

So, Ricart decided to improve the company’s prestige and create a car that would boost the production. After 4 years of planning, designing and creating prototypes, the final product was presented, bearing the name Z-102. Initially, it featured a 2.5-litre V8 with 165 HP, but the displacement was later increased to 2.8-litres and 3.2-litres with 360 HP. Only 84 units were made and they were built by coachbuilders Touring and Saoutchik.

Pegaso Z-102 Berlinetta. Credit: Wheelsage.org

Pegaso Z-102 Berlinetta. Credit: Wheelsage.org

However, one Z-102 differs from others. Ricart got in touch with his good friend Carlo ‘CiCi’ Bianchi Anderloni, the CEO of Carrozzeria Touring. They came up with an idea for a car that would knock everyone off their feet. So, they took a Z-102 and created this:

Credit: Louwman Museum

Credit: Louwman Museum

Due to its huge spherical windows and a bubbly roof, the car got a nickname Cúpula (Spanish for ‘dome’). The most notable features were the skirted fenders, red tires and massive side exhausts. The car was designed with the help from the whole UFO-hype that was shaking the world back then.

Only one Cúpula was ever made, finished in yellow with red wheels, but some sources indicate that there was another cream Cúpula with green interior. Unfortunately, there are no strong evidence on that, so the yellow stunner remains the only known Cúpula in the world.

Credit: Raphael Belly Photography

Credit: Raphael Belly Photography

The car looks astonishing, giving a certain classy but sporty vibe at the same time. It was presented at the 1953 New York Auto Show, where it caught the eye of President of the Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo. Due to his purchase, the car got the nickname ‘El Dominicano’.

Credit: Raphael Belly Photography

Credit: Raphael Belly Photography

A year later, the car entered the Carrera Panamericana road race, but the driver lost control and crashed it not long after the race began. After being repaired, President Trujillo got the car back and kept it until his death in 1961.

For over 2 decades, the car had been resting at the same place, until it was discovered by Peter Kaus in mid-1980s. He bought the car and repainted it to silver, which made the car look rather bland. He kept the car until 2006, when it was bought by the Louwman Museum.

Repainted Cúpula, during its life at the Peter Kaus collection. Credit: CarStyleCritic.com

Repainted Cúpula, during its life at the Peter Kaus collection. Credit: CarStyleCritic.com

The museum then restored the car to its original spec, a process that lasted from 2009 until 2015. Despite being a classy-looking thing, we must remember that it features a beastly 2.8-litre N/A V8 with 250 HP and a 0-100 kph time of just 8 seconds.

Credit: Wheelsage.org

Credit: Wheelsage.org

As for the standard Pegaso Z-102, it was discontinued in 1958 because ENASA needed more factory space to make their trucks and buses.

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Comments (15)

  • I see this car being “rediscovered” by enthusiasts in articles every couple years. It’s definitely a design that can not be mistaken. I can really appreciate it but, I find the regular z-102 to be a much more attractive piece.

      10 months ago
  • Plainly speaks of a time when anything other than a box was considered beautiful and creative it certainly was. It is still beautiful in its own hideous way. Unique !

      10 months ago
  • It’s proportions are kind of hideous! But you know what it’s kind of cool!

      10 months ago
  • I was completely unaware of this brand until I visited Louwman. The Museum is probably in the top 3 car museums in the world, but even in that incredible collection, the Pegaso was striking out. Next stop was a Pegaso Exhibition in Belgium' Autoworld ( egzostive.com/pegaso-autoworld-2018/ ) where they managed to fetch 12 (twelve!) Pegazo Z102s and Z103s (and even a truck :) ). The background material to the exhibition was quite informative, but google also helped a bit to learn about Ricart (he kicked out Enzo Ferrari from the Alfa racing concession) and the Pegaso brand. Many of these care are truly impressive beasts, Ricart probably worked with a bianco cheque for assuring his talents to the Spanish company (well, for designing trucks, but Ferdinand Porsche also earned his startup money through designing tractors...).

    Later the year I also bumped into the one off Thrill in a concours (again in Belgium egzostive.com/purring-v8-pegaso/ ) , I belieive this is one of my favourite cars of all time...

      10 months ago
  • I am fortunate to have seen it in the flesh at the Louwman Museum in The Hague. Absolutely amazing, true art on wheels!

      10 months ago

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