In 1959, Enzo Ferrari was given a concept for a small Ferrari sports car. The designers felt that the Modena sports car factory should cater to the young motoring enthusiasts who were driving around in Alfa Romeos, MGBs, Triumphs and similar small roadsters that were the rage during the care-free post war years.
However, Il Comandatore, (as the Ferrari patriarch was reverently referred to) favored the big and hairy grand touring machines, especially the V12-powered GT supercars and he shunned the idea of building small sports cars. Eventually, Ferrari transferred the rights for the design of the small sports car to Auto Construzioni Societa per Azioni, which was organized to produce the small ASA 1000 GT in 1962.
Engine and Chassis by Bizzarini
Famed Italian engineer and later sports car builder Giotto Bizzarini designed the chassis and engine of the 1000 GT. The front suspension consists of wishbones and coil springs while the rear consists of a live rear axle with helical springs and telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers with reaction sprags. Disc brakes on all four wheels provided tremendous stopping power and conspired with the race-inspired suspension to provide unequaled sporty road manners.
To fully utilize the chassis, Bizzarini equipped the 1000 GT with a high-revving 1,032 cc inline four-cylinder motor with a single overhead camshaft (SOHC) topped by a beautiful crackle-finished cylinder head cover and a pair of double-barrel Weber side-draft carburetors. Mated to a four speed transmission, the GT produced approximately 96 horsepower and, although it pales in comparison to the 750hp produced by today’s modern Ferraris, it bested its contemporaries in 1962 such as the 95hp 1798cc MGB and the 91hp 1290cc Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Body by Bertone
Another famed Italian, designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who worked at Bertone during that time, penned the sporty and light exterior design. The 1000 GT looks like a baby Ferrari 250 Lusso with its small yet curvaceous body but the overall proportions give it a sporty demeanor. As a true driver’s car, the 1000 GT is equipped with a Nardi steering wheel; a large Jaeger tachometer, speedometer and five auxiliary gauges on the instrument panel; comfortable bucket seats and a roomy, well finished cockpit.
Because of its Italian lineage, handsome design and capable equipment, the 1000 GT was not an inexpensive small sports car unlike its competitors. In 1964, it was being sold for $6000 in the United States, which was tremendously expensive for a one-liter car. It was more expensive than a new and larger Jaguar E-Type and about the same price as the faster A.C. Cobra.
Price was the stumbling block of the ASA 1000 GT and sales were disappointingly dismal. By 1967, the ASA venture was terminated with fewer than 100 cars built, including eleven Spyder convertibles, of which only 4 survive today. Our featured car is one of the fixed-head coupes that underwent a restoration in 1991, was kept in a garage for 15 years, and is highly valued today because of its rarity. Alas, if only Enzo Ferrari had decided otherwise…