Amelia Island

9 March 2013

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Lot 145

1929 Isotta Fraschini 8A Convertible Sedan by Floyd-Derham

  • Chassis no. 1571
  • Engine no. 1591

Sold for $473,000


110 bhp, 7,370 cc L-head eight, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-floating rear axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs in the front and rear, and four-wheel Dewandre vacuum servo-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 146 in.

  • Displayed at the 1928 New York Auto Salon
  • The only Floyd-Derham body on an Isotta Fraschini chassis
  • Recent body-off restoration; never concours displayed


The Eight-Cylinder Isotta Fraschini

Società Milanese Automobili Isotta, Fraschini & C. was founded on January 27, 1900. The firm was focused on the assembly of Renaults before advancing to production of its own namesake automobile. Early production focused on high horsepower cars, veritable fire-breathers that achieved celebrity in the crucible of racing. Of early note is Isotta’s victory in the 1908 Targa Florio. In 1919, the firm established itself as a luxury manufacturer with the introduction of the Tipo 8, which became the first production car to feature a straight-eight engine. The successor to the 5.9-liter Tipo 8 was the 8A, which had a 7.3-liter straight-eight that produced a respectful 110 horsepower.



The Floyd-Derham Company

With the passing of Derham’s founder, Joseph J. Derham, in 1928, a rift between his three sons was exposed, which would change the makeup of the company. Son Philip wanted the firm to modernize and expand, while siblings James and Enos remained in favor of running the firm just as it had been with their father at the helm. Philip left the Derham Body Company in 1928 and utilized the backing of William Floyd, a European car importer based in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Philip Derham was responsible for the design and drafting work, and the actual body production was carried out by the well-known Alexander Wolfington, Son & Company.



Just prior to the stock market crash of 1929, the Floyds imported car business began to falter, and they withdrew their support of the nascent coachbuilding firm, despite the fact that there were orders to fill. These were ultimately completed by Wolfington, with the help of the Derham Body Co. Although short-lived, the firm did manage to produce two vehicles for display. One of those was a Minerva Town Cabriolet, displayed at the Chicago Salon in the fall of 1928, which is now part of the Nethercutt Collection. The second car is this Isotta Fraschini Convertible Sedan, chassis 1571, which was displayed at the New York Auto Salon in December.



Chassis 1571: The Floyd-Derham Convertible Sedan

This example was clothed as a convertible sedan by Floyd-Derham for presentation at the December 1928 New York Auto Salon. It is pictured on page 42 of Hugo Pfau’s The Custom Body Era, using a photo taken from the firm’s advertisement in the salon catalogue.



After the show, the car went into private ownership and next appeared in the collection of early enthusiast Paul F. Cofrancesco, of New Britain, Connecticut, who was actively purchasing these magnificent, used, pre-war masterpieces in the 1940s and ’50s. A graduate of the Yale School of Fine Art, Paul was an accomplished artist and musician, and he was also a friend of Rudolph Valentino. Perhaps it was Valentino’s association with the Isotta Fraschini marque that fueled Cofrancesco’s interest, because he ultimately had four of them in his collection.



Cofrancesco came to the attention of fellow pioneer collector Anthony Pascucci, of Meriden, Connecticut, who tried many times over the years to acquire the cars. Ultimately, well-known collector and operatic tenor Sergio Franchi got involved in the chase, and the two ultimately convinced Mr. Cofrancesco to part with his cars around 1975.



As unearthed from the garage in New Britain, this example was still finished in its original color scheme of Butterscotch with yellow fenders and belt line. Mechanically recommissioned, it remained largely original through the subsequent ownership of Bill Lassiter, Sonny Abagnale, and the Imperial Palace. After being acquired by the current owner, it was entrusted to Reinhold’s Restorations, of Reinhold, Pennsylvania, for a thorough body-off restoration.



The work, which was performed between 2006 and 2008, saw the body stripped down to the bare chassis and all of the components rebuilt and refinished. The engine, transmission, and rear end were fully disassembled and rebuilt with all-new gaskets and seals. In addition, new high-compression aluminum pistons and rings were fitted. In the process of restoration, every piece of chrome was replated, and the wheels were fully rebuilt and balanced by the Dayton Wire Wheel Company.



Now finished in Green with Forest Green fenders and belt molding, it has a tan cloth top and a brown leather interior with ostrich seat inserts. The chromed wire wheels are shod with whitewall tires, and the radiator stone guard, which is nearly unique on every Isotta Fraschini, depicts a point-down triangle divided down the middle. Some interesting features of this example are the tubular bar-type bumpers, the wood ribs on the front splash apron, and the upward curve of the door, which reaches up almost imperceptibly to match the height of the cowl. The long belt molding traverses the length of the hood and then splits at the cowl and continues down the side of the body, where it rejoins and dips down sharply to allow room for the convertible top to fold down. The rear contains additional room for a stationary trunk rack and trunk. Fastidiously restored, this is the sole example of Floyd-Derham coachwork on an Isotta Fraschini chassis; it has yet to be publicly shown and promises the potential of praise on the show field.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

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+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

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+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more