If the Lazzarino family had remained in Turin, they might have joined the higher ranks of the other great Italian coachbuilders in history. But in 1927, Juan Lazzarino and his sons Bautista and Miguel emigrated to Buenos Aires, where they set up their metal fabrication shop in a Downtown location at 1020-24 San Blas in La Paternal.
After the war Argentina was hit by a ban on importation of new cars from 1948 through the mid-’60s, yielding a good market for rebodies of existing cars for many wealthy clients during Argentina1s red-hot rally and road race scene. This also prevented the president of Ford of Argentina from acquiring the Ferrari 212 he wanted. He turned to Bautista Lazzarino for an alternative, in the form of a superleggera flathead V-8-powered road racer in the style of a Vignale Ferrari.
Lazzarino delivered in spades and the car was raced successfully in Argentina. While it is stamped serial number 004, it is believed to be the only one of its type. The car had been raced through the 1950s, competing in events like the Gran Jornada Automovilistica ‘Presidente Peron,’ or the President Peron Auto Race Day in August 1954, which was sponsored by the Argentine Association of Race Car Drivers and supervised by the Argentina Automobile Sports Commission.
After years of disuse, it resurfaced in Argentina in the 1970s, when the flathead engine was replaced with a Chrysler Slant-Six and transmission from an Argentine-built Valiant GT. The Lazzarino was found in otherwise excellent original condition by its second owner, Jorge Luis Penedo Sr. In the early 2000s it was acquired by raconteur and rallyist Jon Auerbach from a noted Belgian classic car dealer Paul Grant. After recommissioning, Auerbach, usually accompanied by his son Jake, became a fixture in the Lazzarino in events ranging from the 2006 Great Race; to the Mt. Washington Climb to the Clouds hillclimb. Additional history of the car may be found in a feature story from the April, 2007, issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
After purchasing the car in 2011, we felt the Lazzarino deserved to be returned to its original V-8 power. Amazingly, the original flathead was still in existence but as Auerbach before him had discovered, it was damaged beyond restoration. Sourcing a new period-correct 1951 239 CIengine wasn’t too difficult, but actually rebuilding the car to hold it once again was a monumental task requiring many months of work. At that time we completely restored that whole car at Classic Car Restorations. “In the end we had what I felt was an accurate original car as it was made for its first owner,” In fact she came out so beautifully by our Shop that we were invited to the “Amelia Island Concours” by Bill Warner & then it was off to show her off at “The Quail” Concours in August.