Bandini DOHC ‘Saponetta’ 1957


The Bandini DOHC Saponetta first raced in the Mille Miglia 1957 edition and up to 1962.

The son of a farmer, Ilario Bandini trained as a mechanic before setting up his own workshop in 1938 at Forli (I). He became involved in motorsport, including entering the 1940 Mille Miglia.

Bandini’s first car emerged in 1947, using a tubular chassis with a tuned Fiat 1100 engine and an aluminium body by Motto. As from 1952, Bandini began to construct cars for the 750 class, where most of his successes were achieved.  These cars used a tubular chassis and were powered by a Crosley sohc engine, modified by Bandini himself. Most cars were fitted with a body constructed in-house. With this vehicle the successes were limited, but the adoption of a dohc cylinder-head later that year significantly improved performance.

An interesting coupé, the Bandini DOHC ‘Saponetta’ – the body being a hand hammered aluminum body emerged in 1957. ‘Saponetta’ meaning little soap bar, for being small and slippery. The engine consisted of a heavily modified Crosley block with an aluminum twin cam cylinder head designed by Ilario Bandini. Using twin Weber 32DCOA3 carburetors, the 747cc engine produced 68 H.P with a maximum rpm of 8,500.

This car first raced in the Mille Miglia 1957 edition and up to 1962, it would race in many other races on circuits like Monza and Vallelunga, but also competed in many hillclimbs. In total 9 Saponettas were to be exported to the USA, the first of which arrived in 1959.  The cars were raced extensively and very successfully in the SCCA championship at locations such as Watkins Glen during the 60’s. The unique patented oval tubing, lightweight engine, and aluminum body formed one of the lightest race cars built in its day.

> Ilario Bandini (official website)
> Bandini DOHC Saponetta 1957 (official website)
> Bandini Automobili (wikipedia)