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Second chance lands Isotta Fraschini for collector

Many auto aficionados regret passing up the chance to buy a coveted vehicle but few get a second chance to do so. Roy Margenau of Grass Lake, Michigan, is one such lucky person. He’s the owner of a 1922 Tipo 8 (Type 8) Isotta Fraschini Boattail Phaeton.

The Isotta has been part of his collection for more than a dozen years. Five years prior to acquiring it, he passed on the opportunity to buy it at an auction because he had already made some purchases that day.

Isotta Fraschini Boattail PhaetonBut, he paid attention to the buyer and stayed in touch with the owner. When it was back at auction, so was Roy. He wasn’t going to let this second chance slip through his hands.

“I was blown away by the design when I saw it,” Margenau said. “It’s flamboyant.”

Isotta Fraschini built 1,600 cars from 1919 to 1934. Today, there are just 250 in existence worldwide. The car was unique in that it was the first to have four-wheel brakes and the first to have a straight 8 engine. The car’s engine originally was designed for airplane use in WWI. “It was so reliable that Isotta deemed it perfect for a car,” Margenau said. “It’s not quiet, though, and when you let out the clutch, you better hang on.”

The original price for the car was $19,985, many, many times more than the price of a Model T that could be had for $300.

Isotta Fraschini Boattail PhaetonMargenau’s love of classics – his collection also includes Rolls Royce, Packard and Graham-Paige – started at an early age. His family owned a custom body company in Detroit.

The car has had an interesting history, starting with its first owner: Queen Marie of Romania. She purchased the car in Paris. It has French-style headlights, compliant with French law. The car made its way to North America after WWII. At one time, it was owned by a rental company that rented cars to movie studios in Hollywood.

When he purchased the Isotta Fraschini, with its bold light yellow and orange exterior and tobacco brown interior, it did not run. “It’s to be expected of many cars of this era,” he said.

The Isotta Fraschini has earned several top awards at concours competitions throughout the country including:

  • Best of Class and Best of Show – Greenfield Village
  • Best Design – Classic Car Club of America
  • Best Classic – Stan Hywet Concours
  • Hagerty Award Essence of Motoring – Glenmoor Concours

Isotta Fraschini Boattail PhaetonIn the beautiful setting of Milwaukee lakefront Veterans Park, the Midwest’s premier concours d’elegance is set for Sunday, Aug. 28, with the 12th annual Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance. Select vehicles will be judged and selected for prestige awards including Best of Show.

The Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance weekend also includes Show & Glow by the Lake™, a celebration of all things motorized, Aug. 27, 2016, at Veterans Park. More than a casual car show, Show & Glow by the Lake includes motorcycles, trucks and even boats, collectively defining enthusiasts in the Midwest.

Saturday also will feature an evening social with food, beverage and a silent auction. The elegant Milwaukee Club is the setting for the 2016 Style & Speed Social.

Proceeds from the weekend’s events will benefit Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and Meta House.

The Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance is organized by The Masterpiece Ltd., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organized and operated exclusively to support other public charities including but not limited to those operating in southeastern Wisconsin which provide medical and social service care and relief to underprivileged children and families through various motor vehicle-related fundraising events.

The radiator mascot or hood ornament —
known as “Triomphe” –personifies the
flamboyant design of the Isotta Fraschini.