1969 Farago CF428 Coupe – The Italian Pontiac

There are no shortage of beautiful American-made cars, but I believe that when Americans and Italians combine their talents to build a car, the results are truly magic. There are numerous examples from history such as the Hudson Italia, an American car that wore a body designed by Carrozzeria Touring. Another example is the DeTomaso Mangusta and the Pantera, designed by Ghia and powered by Ford V8 engines. Though they were not hugely successful, the Stutz Blackhawk and the Chrysler TC by Maserati also paired American powertrains with Italian-designed bodies.

At the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, I discovered another car that followed the “American powertrain + Italian design” formula. Designated as a 1969 Farago CF428 coupe, this car was a one-off prototype created by Paul Farago and Sergio Coggiola, formerly of Ghia. Coggiola and Farago were two designers who formed Carrozzeria Coggiola in 1969.

Their first project was from none other than John DeLorean, who was at the time head of the highly successful Pontiac division over at General Motors. DeLorean wanted a concept car that would grab attention for Pontiac, something exciting that could be used to promote the brand. A 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix with a 428 cubic inch V8 was appropriated for the project.

Though it maintains its Pontiac drivetrain and chassis, the resulting coupe is a low-slung, wedge-shaped car that looks like a more refined, sophisticated Pontiac that just spent a semester studying abroad. The extreme angle of the windshield and seamless integration of the roof into the rear deck reminds me of the Ford Mustang Mach I with the Sportsroof body style. Though the sheet metal has been changed dramatically from a Grand Prix, the car retains its Pontiac door handles, tail lights, and interior.

The car was displayed at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance by its owner Frank Campanale of Michigan, who is a relative of Farago. The car captured the 3rd Place win in its category of “American Dream Cars of the 1960s,” a well-deserved honor.

After this project, Paul Farago went on to work with Virgil Exener from Chrysler on the Stutz Blackhawk, which also used a Pontiac drivetrain. He also worked on the Maserati Ghibli, which bears a stunning resemblance with its long hood and short deck.

This car never made it into production, but I find it fascinating to see what a 1970s collaboration between Pontiac and Italian designers would have looked like.

Barrett-Jackson 2017: 1986 Grand Prix 2+2


One of the more interesting vehicles found at Barrett-Jackson this year was this Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2. Among the more high-profile G-bodies like the Monte Carlo, El Camino, Cutlass and Buick T-type, the Pontiac tends to become more of a forgotten offering. Couple that with this aerodynamic-enhancing body conversion by Auto-Fab for homologation purposes and you find yourself with one interesting piece of history.

Being one of only 1,225 Grand Prix models converted, it’s provenance is evident in it’s smooth Firebird/Camaro-esque rear windshield, revised front fascia and small fiberglass trunk lid. That’s correct: Despite it’s appearance, that window is static, not hatch.

And that lack of useful storage space is only one of the many issues that kept this production variant out of the General Motors limelight. The¬†lackluster performance from the 150hp 5.0L carbureted v8 available only through the 2004r auto and a 3.08:1 rear end ratio didn’t help either. If you remember correctly, even the lowly Monte Carlo SS had an alternative 180hp variant during it’s run, not to mention the offerings from Buick and Oldsmobile.

Despite it’s shortcomings, aesthetically it’s a stud in the confines of it’s era. Which, along with it’s rareness, is probably why this well-kept, low-mileage example went for an impressive $11,000 at¬†auction.

 


Check out the lot listing for this vehicle over at Barrett-Jackson.com