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Best known as the founder of the Cisitalia marque, Piero Dusio was a successful businessman and amateur racing driver before World War II. Although Cisitalia (Consorzio Industriale Sportiva Italia) did not last long, his concept for low-cost one-make racing seemed ideal for the austerity of post-war Europe and eventualy did not catch on.
Football with Juventus and early life
Motor racing was not his first sporting interest for Dusio played professional football for Juventus, making just three first team appearances before a knee injury forced him to retire in 1922. Deprived of his hoped-for career, he worked in textiles and formed his own company in 1926. That later expanded into clothing and the manufacturer of sporting goods and uniforms.
Post-war racing career
Now a wealthy man, Dusio bought a Maserati to race in national events during 1929. His Grand Prix debut in Monaco 1935 was with a Scuderia SubAlpina Maserati 8CM and he formed his own Scuderia Torino a year later. International results of note included his Maserati 6C-34 finishing sixth in the 1936 Italian GP and third in the 1938 Mille Miglia with an Alfa Romeo 6C-2300A. He also scored hillclimb success at the time and won an Italian Championship event at Stelvio in 1938.
Cisitalia and personal success
As World War II drew to a close, Dusio commissioned former Fiat designer Dante Giacosa to design a new low-cost racing car. The first Cisitalia model (the D46) was designed around Fiat parts and 1100cc engine and Dusio went into production as soon as the war was over. An all-star line-up was attracted for Italy’s first post-war race in Turin’s Valentino Park in 1946. Tazio Nuvolari’s Cisitalia steering wheel snapped in his hands but Dusio himself won the race.
Dr Ferry Porsche designed the rear-engine four-wheel-drive Cisitalia 360 for the 1948 Formula 1 season but the car proved over-complicated and it brought the company to its knees. An agreement with the Argentinian government saved Dusio with production of the re-badged Autoar cars transferred to Buenos Aires.
Dusio entered the 1952 Italian Grand Prix with a Cisitalia D46 but failed to qualify after persistent problems with its BPM marine engine.