The story of Ilario Bandini

Ilario Bandini was born in Forlì on the 18th of April 1911, from a family of farmers like many others in Villa Rovere. After finishing school, he started working as a mechanic and turner. Therefore, his life will soon cross paths with cars and with different roles in a constant presence. In alternate stages, he was a pilot, a trainer, a manufacturer and an entrepreneur. He did it with the classic Italian flair who pursuits his dream with fantasy and determination. A flair which kept him active almost until the age of 81. So his business activity ended with his death, even though, until the very end, he worked as if time, for him, would never stop.


The turning point that will determine the beginning of his success came at around the age of 40, as we can say, with a “double turn”. In fact, it is in the ’50 when the first Bandini cars arrived in the United States, in the hands of pilots such as Dick Gent and Bob Said, and with them also came the first successes. His cars were appreciated for their light weight and stability because of the patented frames made of special steel pipes of elliptical section. Tony Pompeo, the Italian-American importer, came up with the idea that those frames chassis might be even more competitive in the category up to 750cm³ fitted with Crosley engines. This would not be enough to Ilario, who also made changes to the thrusters in total respect of the regulations, revised the lubrication system, displacement, distributor, assembling everything in frames of only 18 kg and with the sinuous carbody by Motto, which perfectly matched the Bandini style.

So the 750 Sport Siluro was born and, with the exports, the productions also increased. Bandini earned the respect with success in overseas racings, the specialized press confirmed his value with covers and news reports. From that moment, Ilario, would take care personally of every aspect: project, style, testing, and ultimately defining the last details. In fact, from 1953, even the carbodies would be self-produced and the Crosley engines would undergo a radical transformation. At the end of the same year, he was fourth at the Italian 750cm³ championship.

In 1954, production of the Sport Siluro continued alongside the Formula 3, with a new line and significant mechanical evolutions. In the meanwhile in USA, in the SCCA championship, James Riley and Jim Pauley continued to take podium places in FM and HM class, in national and international competitions.

In 1955 Dave Michaels competing with a Bandini-Offy of 1.625 cm³ in the EM class (up to 2.000 cm³) won in Watchins Glen, fighting cars of larger displacement such as Ferrari Monza, Maserati, Cunningam and Ferrari Mondial. In the H-M category (up to 750 cm³) Dolph Vilardi won the American championship defeating competitors on Crosley Special, Renault, Giaur, Panhard, Siata, Nardi etc.

Ilario Bandini with Enzo Ferrari, 1964

These are the basis on which the entire work of Ilario Bandini then evolved: innovation ability, operative concreteness and willpower led him to become one of the most appreciated Italian manufacturers. That’s how in 1981 he received the honorary degree in mechanical engineering from the University of New York, while a Bandini car was exhibited at the Marconi Museum in Los Angeles and he received a medal by the Italian National Olimpic Committee as a “due recognition for many years serving Italian sport”.

In 1985 he took the wheel for the last time in Predappio on his own 1.300 16 valve. A few years later came his last creation, the Berlinetta 1.000 Turbo 16V that was completed at the age of 80, just before his death in Forlì in 1992. Ten years after his death, Forlì named a square in his honour.

This is only a summary of the life of a person who made of it the mean to make his dreams come true.

To know more about the human and sporting path of Ilario Bandini, you can look at the specific section on Wikipedia, which has been verified by the great-grandson Michele Orsi Bandini, currently CEO of Bandini Automobili.