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