Bandini’s very last GT road car – 1963 Bandini 1000 GT

Racing car constructor Ilario Bandini might have become A GT car maker with this elegant 1.0-litre coupe. Story by Chris Rees.


In many ways, Bandini encapsulates the spirit of Italy’s ‘etceterini’ marques that flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. It was founded by Ilario Bandini, who built his first racing car, based on an old Fiat 1100, in 1946, clothed in an aluminium body made by Rocco Motto.

Ilario Bandini 1963 Bandini 1000 GT

1963 Bandini 1000 GT

The first proper Bandini arrived in 1950, using a tubular chassis and a Fiat 1100 engine with an Alfa Romeo 6C 1900 cylinder head. Bandini then made a series of racing cars that competed in the Mille Miglia and SCCA racing series in the USA, the latter helped by the Italian-American businessman, Tony Pompeo, who represented Abarth in America. Bandini also made one of the most successful Formula Junior racers of the late 1950s.

Bandini may have been a tiny outfit but he had grand plans for his company, Bandini Automobili, which used as its badge the symbol of his home town of Forli: a crowing cockerel. He even contemplated entering Formula 1.

As for road-going cars, these were few indeed. A GT road car was built in 1955 in the form of the gorgeous Zagato-bodied Bandini 750 GT coupe. Almost as elegant was his second GT car, the Bandini 1000 GT of 1963 – as seen on this page. For the bodywork, he turned to an obscure outfit called Carrozzeria Corna of Turin – one of the companies that Zagato used as a subcontractor – which hand-formed a sober but well proportioned two-seater coupe shape in aluminium.

1963 Bandini 1000 GT

1963 Bandini 1000 GT

The layout was classical: a front-mounted engine with rear-wheel drive. But the chassis – an oval-tube spaceframe of patented design, weighing a mere 25kg – drew on Bandini’s experiences with his mid-engined racers. The suspension design was very similar, for instance. At the front end was a double wishbone set-up with angled hydraulic dampers; the rear was a multi-link independent set-up, while antiroll bars were fitted front and rear. The wheels (Amadori 15- inchers) had disc brakes up front and drums to the rear.

The engine was a development of that in his saponetta (‘soap bar’) and 1000P racers. A four-cylinder, all-square (bore and stroke both 68mm) unit, it had a capacity of just 987cc. It was pretty much racing spec: twin camshafts, aluminium cylinder head, hemispherical combustion chambers, removable cylinder liners and an aluminium radiator.

With a compression ratio of 9:1 and two Weber 38DCO3 carburettors, it produced a remarkable power output of 94hp at 8000rpm. The gearbox was also sophisticated, having five synchronised gears.

The whole car tipped the scales at a featherweight 475kg, enabling it to reach a top speed of 125mph. There was talk of offering the 1000 GT to the public, in either left-hand drive or right-hand drive guise. In the end, only one example was ever made, painted black and used by Ilario Bandini as his personal car. Bandini continued to build racers and one-offs well into the 1980s, before passing away in 1992. It’s thought that a total of 75 Bandini cars were produced in all. Sadly the one and only 1000 GT is believed no longer to exist.

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