1930 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Flying Star Roadster.
Photo: Casey Annis
Billed as “The Aristocrat of the Automobiles,” the vehicles produced by the Fabbrica Automobili Isotta Fraschini were owned by some of the most exclusive clientele ever boasted by one marque: movie stars like Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino, athletes like Jack Dempsey, magnates like William Randolph Hearst and all manner of royalty including a King and Queen, an Empress, scores of princes and princesses, several maharajahs, countless dukes, duchesses, barons, counts and viscounts, the Aga Khan, Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI.
An Isotta Fraschini was the favored carriage of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and was among the first manufacturers to adapt four-wheel brakes (1910) and straight-eight power (1920) along with other technical advancements. Notwithstanding these achievements, the marque failed, like so many others, to weather the Great Depression and survives now as a purveyor of luxury goods and builder of marine engines. For a time, however, Isotta Fraschini was the undisputed jewel in the luxury automobile crown, beset amongst other gems from Hispano-Suiza, Mercedes-Benz, Minerva and Rolls-Royce.
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