Rare Rides: A 1951 Pegaso Z-102 GT Berlinetta, Prototype Luxury Coupe
Today’s Rare Ride hails from a Spanish company that made some very fast sports coupes for a very short while. Let’s find out some more about Pegaso.
Pegaso was founded in 1946 in Barcelona, Spain. Its parent company was Enasa, a firm founded that same year after it purchased the assets of the Spanish portion of Hispano-Suiza.
Enasa was lead by engineer Wifredo Ricart. After WWII Ricart fled from Italy to Spain and wanted to leave Europe entirely. He secured a job in the US with Studebaker, but before he could depart the government approached him to head up Enasa. He found that offer more appealing than a job at Studebaker. Ricart directed his company with an eye toward engineering and innovation, which was great for sports cars and nice buses, but not so great for the accountants.
Enasa was a state-owned firm and was mainly concerned with heavy-duty trucks and buses. Thus Enasa directed Pegaso to build said trucks and buses, along with armored vehicles, and tractors. For a short while, the company also built sports cars.
And the sports cars in question were mostly the Z-102, as it was the only passenger car Pegaso ever produced in any quantity. Between 1951 and 1958, the old Hispano-Suiza factory in Spain churned out sports cars at a very slow rate. Available in coupe and convertible varieties, the basic design was penned by Ricart. Additional bodies were available from Carrozzeria Touring, Saoutchik, Serra, as well as other designs from Enasa.
Ricart spared no expense in the development of his sports car and used the expertise he’d developed at Alfa Romeo where he designed the Tipo 512. The pressed steel chassis was paired with an aluminum body for lightness, though the cars still proved too heavy for racing. With the exception of the bodies, the Z-102 was built entirely in-house. The all-new engine design was a quad-cam alloy V8 with a dry sump. Initially, the mill was 2.5 liters in displacement (175hp) but was later upgraded to a 2.8 and then a 3.2. The 3.2 was a dual overhead cam design and had 32 valves for a whopping 360 horsepower with the optional supercharger. Top speed in the base version was 120 miles per hour, but that increased with the supercharged engine to 151. The top speed made it the fastest production car on sale anywhere in the world at the time. All transmissions were five-speed manuals, with the gearbox located at the rear.
The powerful, expensive, and luxurious Z-102 was unfortunately not a sales success, even with its performance prowess. In a last-ditch attempt to make some money, the successor Z-103 was introduced in 1955. Z-103 used simpler OHV engines and was lighter and less expensive to produce. Crucially, it used cheaper bodies made of a mix of steel and aluminum. Only three were made by 1958 when Pegaso was forced to shift its focus back to commercial vehicles and close down its passenger car operation. Pegaso continued its production of commercial vehicles through 1990, at which point Iveco purchased Enasa. The Pegaso brand was killed off in 1994.
Today’s light green Rare Ride is one of the first four prototypes produced by Pegaso, with some styling cues that didn’t make it into the production version. It’s priced on request in Belgium.