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SLIDER: 1952 Pegaso Z-102

The Pegaso Z-102 was manufactured in Spain in both coupé and cabriolet form between 1951 and 1958. At the time, it was the fastest production car in the world, with a top speed of 151 mph.  The manufacturers were the state-owned ENASA company (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.), incorporated in 1946 after having bought the automotive assets of the Spanish arm of Hispano-Suiza. They produced trucks, buses and military armoured vehicles under the Pegaso name. In 1951 the company decided to manufacture a cost-no-object sports car, designed by Pegaso’s chief technical manager Wifredo Ricart.  This Catalan engineer started his career in Spain but moved in 1936 to Alfa Romeo in Milan, where he designed the flat-twelve rear-engined 512.

Ricart returned to Barcelona in 1945, and is said to have encouraged the building of an advanced sports car to infuse the company with a spirit of high-quality engineering.

The Z-102 was launched In October 1951 at the Paris Motor Show.  The Z-102 started life as a pair of prototypes in 1951 with coupé and drophead body styles. Both prototypes had steel bodies of ENASA design, but soon switched to alloy bodies from such coachbuilders as Saoutchik and Touring.  Our picture illustrated the press release of the car at the British Motor Show in October 1952.  It could well show one of the factory steel-bodied prototypes, because it is one of very few images of the car with no front wheel-arch flares or front-wing side vents and no scoop on the rear-wing cooling slots.

The Z-102 was powered by a four-cam all-alloy V8 engine with dry-sump lubrication, transmitting power through a 5-speed non-synchromesh transaxle with De Dion suspension.  It entered production with a 2,472 cc engine, but later cars used 2,816 cc and 3,178 cc engines with desmodromic valve gear, and an optional supercharger.  Power ranged from 175 hp to 360 hp.

Z-102s competed in several races but had very little success. Three Z-102s were entered by Pegaso in the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans.  They also competed in the 1954 Carrera Panamericana with promising results before an accident.

Picture courtesy of the Richard Roberts Archive

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