The 1946 Fiat – engined Ermini raced by Tazio Nuvolari
In the short 12-year life of the Ermini company, its cars made quite an impression on the racing world, taking a class win at the Mille Miglia and victories in Italian racing championships.
This was all thanks to Pasquale ‘Pasquino’ Ermini, who had started out as an apprentice mechanic with racing driver Emilio Materassi’s racing team, only for Materassi to die in a terrible crash a year later in the 1928 Italian Grand Prix.
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FIAT, Bertone & Ermini
The young Ermini stuck with the team nonetheless, but in 1932 decided to go it alone, forming his own workshop and taking up racing – though much of his work was supporting other racing drivers. After the war, in 1946, Ermini began to build his own cars from his base in Florence, prompted by his creation of a twin-cam cylinder head for the Fiat 1100 engine. From that, he named his company Scuderia TESS, standing for Testa Emisferica Super Sport or ‘hemispherical super sport head’.
The car you see here didn’t start out as an Ermini at all. Instead, in the first of three distinct phases in its racing career, it was built in 1946 from a commission from the Scuderia Milan to Carrozzeria Bertone for the construction of a sports car, in aluminium, on a modified Fiat 1100B chassis – four such cars were ordered but only two were built.
The cars’ Fiat 1100B engines were modified according to suggestions from a Milan Polytechnic engineer named Pelluzzi. One of the two cars was entrusted to the president of the Scuderia, Mr Ruggeri, who destroyed it on his second outing; the other car – this car – went to none other than Tazio Nuvolari, who entered it into three 1946 events. Franco Masters also drove it at the Luino circuit on August 4 of the same year, achieving second place in the novice drivers category.
Turning into the Ermini Fiat 1100 Sport
For the 1947 season, though, the car was bought by Pasquale Ermini. His company’s symbol (a rhombus with the name “T.E.S.S.” overlaid with the lily of Florence inside, topped with a racing car) is still visible on the nose. The engine was fitted with Ermini’s twin-cam cylinder head and two new Weber carburettors.
With this car Ermini made his debut in 1947 at the Piacenza circuit and also competes in the Grand Prix of Rome, on the Caracalla Circuit, in which the Ferrari 125S of Cortese achieved its first success for the company from Maranello.
At the end of the season the car was sold to Siro Sbraci, who competed in several events in it, and commissioned a more powerful engine after the failure of the original. The car was then sold to Carlo Meoni, who used it in various races in 1949, including the Florence-Fiesole and the Tour of Tuscany.
Then, in 1951, it was bought by the Pesaro driver Bruno Maroccini, who entered it into the 1952 Giro di Sicilia. At dawn he arrived at the gates of Palermo, close to winning his class, only to crash just before the finish, badly damaging the car’s nose. Once repaired, the car was entered into the Mille Miglia but a steering problem forced a retirement in Ravenna.
More events followed until 1954, when the little Ermini was laid up, used only occasionally for pleasure rather than competition, and remaining unrestored and 100% preserved. It’s in this condition that it has taken part in more recent events, including the Giro di Sicilia, the Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia on several occasions.
Thanks to this, the car has fully FIA, CSAI and FIVA documentation.
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