NewsDay Cars

IN THE GARAGE

By David Fluhrer

THE CAR AND ITS OWNER

1947 Cisitalia 202 Vignale Cabriolet owned by Henry Miller

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING

When Italian businessman and amateur. racer Piero Dusio founded Consorzio Industriale Sportivo Italia, or Cisitalia, after World War II, his singular goal was to make championship race cars to compete with Europe's finest. Along with a single-seat Grand Prix racer in 1946 and other exceptional cars, his company built 160 of the two-seat 202s until 1952. They were not only great on the track, but the sinuous bodies were crafted by legendary coachbuilders Pinin Farina, Vignale and others. "These cars are works of art," Miller says of his Cabriolet, one of only 60 202 convertibles made. "It's right-hand drive and has very much an art deco interior. Check out the door handles, the window cranks and especially the emergency brakes." Miller's ride will be on display this weekend at the Greenwich, Connecticut Concours d'Elegance. If you miss it, New York's Museum of Modern Art has a stunning red 1946 coupe in its permanent collection.

HOW LONG HE'S OWNED IT

Since 2005

WHERE HE FOUND IT

Miller bought it from a Florida collector. It had previously been shipped from Argentina, where it was taken by Dusio after he went bankrupt and moved his operation there in 1949. The Cisitalia name lives on through an Argentine company building replica and concept cars.

CONDITION

The Cabriolet needed a 100-percent, ground-up restoration to take it back to its original appearance, with the decade-long work performed under the supervision of Kent Bain of Automotive Restorations, Inc. in Stratford, Connecticut. The 202 made its show debut at this year's prestigious Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.

TIPS FOR OWNERS

"Only use top-quality mechanics and restorers to maintain the car," Miller advises. "Drive it."

VALUE

He estimates a value around $750,000.

THE BOTTOM LINE

"This car was meticulously researched and restored by a well-known, top-quality restorer," Miller says. "It has the correct, original exterior color and interior leather color. It's likely the finest Cisitalia in the world today."

(Photo credit: Max Itin)