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As a Contemporary of Enzo Ferrari at Alfa Romeo, where he was head of design for the Alfa Corse department, the charismatic Italian joined the ranks of Alfa employees who built cars under their own name. Ricart, a refugee from the Spanish civil war, would return to his native country in the late 1940s to lead Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones (ENASA), based in Barcelona. Supported by the nationalist government and backed by Italian experience, Ricart set out to develop a Spanish supercar and chose the Greek mythological flying horse Pegasus as an emblem.

Specially trained in the development of engines, Ricart designed a V8 from the ground up, equipped with two overhead camshafts—one on each cylinder branch. Fed by Weber carburetors and with the option of a supercharger, the block also had hemispheric combustion chambers. In addition to the engine, Ricart also designed the short-wheelbase chassis as a self-supporting steel platform on which the transaxle transmission was mounted—a solution that gave the Pegaso perfect weight distribution. The rear suspension was based on the De Dion axle, while the front axle was equipped with overlapping triangles and longitudinal torsion bars. The braking was carried out by ventilated drums, large in dimension even by today’s standards.

Less successful was the model’s aesthetics which was pencilled by ENASA designers more accustomed to the production of heavy goods and passenger cars. The body of the Pegaso Z102, the brand’s first model, made little impression on its debut at the 1951 Paris Motor Show. The situation however would be rectified shortly afterward, with the hiring of designers Tourers from Milan, and Jacques Saoutchik, from Paris.

Flying thoroughbred

At the launch of the Z102 range, the V8 engine had a 2.5 litre capacity, but subsequent variants saw that increase first to 2.8, and then to the 3.2 litre 32-valve desmodromic engine. The outputs varied between 160 and 360hp, depending on the type of carburetor chosen and whether or not a supercharger was fitted. The gearbox had five ratios, with the final ratio allowing the base model to reach a maximum speed of 192 km/h. The most powerful version reached an impressive top speed of 249 km/h—the highest for a production car at the time.

The official unveiling of the first series of the Pegaso Z102 B Touring Berlinetta was at the 1953 New York Motor Show. Designed as a true Grand Tourer, the Berlinetta’s were characterized by vents on the corners of the bonnet and a very fluid roofline.

The first BT’s based on the prototype which appeared at the 1953 New York Show cost 15,000$, a price higher than a Ferrari. Factory records show that a total of 84 cars were produced between September 1951 and 1954. There are now 44 in Spain, 14 in the United States of America and nine in the rest of the world. The remaining 17 have either disappeared or been destroyed. Most were equipped with the 2.8 liter V8 engine with separate carburetors and some with superchargers, but the Berlinetta also had versions equipped with a 3.2 liter capacity V8 engine.

This prestigious automobile from Spanish industry was the present of choice from Generalissimo Franco to President Craveiro Lopes during his official visit to Spain in May 1953. General Craveiro Lopes, a man of honesty and high scruples, did not wish to keep gifts received during his tenure. He immediately registered it under the name of the Portuguese State on April 5, 1954, with registration number EP-19- 74. This registration was later replaced on April 6, 1965, with the current HF-34-47 plate.

The car was rarely used by General Craveiro Lopes, but his son, Captain Aviator João Carlos Craveiro Lopes, travelled a few thousand kilometres in it until 1958. When Admiral Américo Tomás was elected President of the Republic, the Pegaso was immobilised in the Palace of Belém, then later transferred to a Ministry of Finance warehouse in Xabregas.  Whilst there the car suffered serious damage from the floods that devastated Lisbon in November 1967.

It was eventually recovered through an initiative by João de Lacerda, with the collaboration of the General Workshops of Aeronautical Material of Alverca and the Engineer, José Jorge Canelas, who restored the car to its original specification. For the restoration work, João de Lacerda had to enlist the help of Ricart himself, who travelled back to Spain on several occasions for parts.

This car was donated to the Museu do Caramulo by the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic and formed part of “The Automobiles and Historical Figures” exhibition held by the museum.