Pasquale Ermini named "Pasquino" was one of the most representative Italian, sports car manufactures of '40 and '50 years.(his history, still today is not well know cause is premature death.)
He was born in 1905 and he came from Leccio near Florence. In 1927 he completed his technical studies and he joined as an apprentice mechanic in the workshop of a fellow countryman: Emilio Materassi, which had purchased all TALBOT for the Grand Prix of 1926.
In 1928, during a Grand Prix of Italy, Materassi had a tragic accident, but the team continued its activities with drivers like: Clemente Biondetti and Gastone Billi Peri.
During those years, treading the stage of international competitions, he had the opportunity to do a lot of those experiences and establish interpersonal relationships that in the future will be important.
One of the most important person who he met was the engineer Alberto Massimino, they collaborate together in the development of the "twin cam head" of the Fiat-Ermini engine and than they designed the chassis and the mechanics of 357 Ermini.
Ermini was able to refine his mechanical concepts thanks to the work realized for the sophisticated 8 cylinders 1500cc super-charge twin cam engine of Talbot cars.
In 1932 with the dissolution of the Materassi' team cars, Ermini decided to open his own mechanical workshop in Campo D'Arrigo street n°7 which become the center for preparation of local gentlemen racing cars.
Since 1931 he tried to be a driver with a Talbot obtaining good results. Also in the following years he had opportunities to compete, sometimes driving his customer's car like: the Consuma's Cup in 1935, he drove an Alfa Romeo to the Parma-Poggio Berceto in 1937 (here, he won driving a Maserati 4CM), or as in the three editions of the Mille Miglia (1935, 1936, and 1937).
He brilliantly prepared cars for a lot of drivers as in the case of the Contini's Alfa Romeo 6c 1500ss driven along Ermini's foreman Rodolfo Salvadori, beating the competitions of three official Aston Martin reaching 1° place in his class and 9°place overall in the Mille Miglia in 1937.
Pasquale Ermini detto "Pasquino", è stato uno dei più rappresentativi costruttori di auto sportive italiane degli anni 40' e 50', (e se ancora oggi la sua storia è poco conosciuta, questo è dovuto alla sua prematura scomparsa).
With the coming of the war, Ermini devoted himself exclusively to maintain the few vehicles still on the roads and in 1946 he resumed his industry and he moved the workshop in Matteotti Street n°21/r.
In that year, he bought a 1940 Alfa Romeo 2500 SS Touring ex Mille Miglia, and he obtain a success at the Superba's Track and thanks other important placement he won the title of vice Italian champion in the Major Category Sports.
In early month of 1946, Ermini developed the idea to build an aluminum cylinder-head with two over head camshafts to be apply at the 1100 Fiat (508C) block; he put his thoughts on paper which were transformed into technical drawing by the engineers of Galileo's Workshop in Florence.
This idea turned out immediately too difficult to achieve in the postwar Florence. The first casting of cylinder-head, were made at the studio of a sculptor in Florence using the material of discarded old pistons.
After lengthy tests carried out by Ermini and his mechanics many time by trial and error, in the early months of 1947 was completed the first FIAT-ERMINI engine and it was installed on an 1100 Sport Fiat Bertone (it was designed in 1946 by the Speluzzi engineer for Milan team).
In the same year Ermini produced his first car: the Ermini-Alfa Romeo Sport 2500 SS, using an Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 engine (it belonged to a small attack boat MTM used by special forces during the Second World War).
The engine was assembled on a Fiat chassis that was suitably charge by Ermini and the body of the car was made from a light alloy like a "Barchetta" from Tafani in Florence. The particular origin of the Alfa Romeo engine ideally joins Ermini to another Florentine renowned artisan brand: PANERAI Workshop that provided precision instruments used by the raiders of the Italian Royal Navy.
It's important to point out the name Fiat-Ermini depends of the new CSAI regulations requiring to register all cars, in this way prohibiting to call them with his own name, unless dealing a costly test on mechanical parts that composed the car.
This was the reason because until 1951 all cars realized in the Ermini workshop were registered with the name of Fiat-Ermini using the name of the famous Turin manufacturer who indirectly gave some mechanical parts.
The debut of this engine was the 12 May of 1947 in the circuit of Piacenza with the Fiat 1100 Sport Bertone during an historical race made famous by another debut: Ferrari 125.
After the second fastest time recorder during the trial, the race ended with the withdrawal of the car due to a pump power problem.
In the same year Ermini founded with Siro Sbraci and Giorgio Castelnuovo, ( his friends and his sponsor), the T.E.S.S. (hemispherical head super sport); belonged to this team: The Ermini- Alfa Romeo 2500ss, the Sbraci FIAT 1100 Sport Bertone being the first car powered with the Ermini overhead twin cam, and in the end the first Ermini with his own engine, the Ermini 1100 Sport (commissioned from Castelnuovo and the body produced in Reggio Emilia like "ALA D'ORO").
In that year Ermini took part in various races and his best results was with the Ermini-Alfa Romeo (1° to the Senigallia circuit, 2° to the Novara and Lido di Venezia circuits). But the most prestigious result of the year, was the Mille Miglia where he teamed with Quentin, driving a Fiat 1100s prepared by him, he took the 7th place overall 5° class.
In winter 1947 Ermini started to create two cars that they will be the Ermini Grand Premio Sport 1100. They were equipped with a tubolar chassis Gilco the body of car "siluro" from Tafani, and they had both twin cam engine FIAT-ERMINI.
The florentine cars drove by Ermini and Siro Sbraci, triumphantly debuted to the Florence-Fiesole circuit in 1948; (they respectively took the first and the 4th place). During the same year they took part in various track events (sometime valid for the International Championship of F2) obtaining very important results.
Unfotunately in 1948 at the 2nd international circuit of Cascine, Ermini had a tragic accident where five spectators near the track died.
After this tragic event, Ermini was deeply shaken and he decided to stop driving and thougt to close with the world of racing.
In 1948 during the winter, Ermini met one the fastest drivers, a gentlemen name Ugo Bormioli from Venice, while he was in Florence for some treatment. He visited the workshop of the great florentine preparer and builder and the two struck immediately a relationship of respect and sympathy that result with the construction of car using some mechanical parts of the crashed car equipped with a Gilco modified FIAT 1100 chassis and a "siluro" body by Motto from Torino.
The relationship between Ermini and Rocco Motto was immediately of great understanding and in the following years the tourin coach-builder engaged himself to developed different coach-work for the florentine builder.
In 1949, Ermini entered three cars in the Mille Miglia, the cars were too fast (they went in top with Bormioli and Montanari) but they had to withdrew due to breaking of the valve's screw adjustment.
The problem was solved with the help of engineer Alberto Massimino.
During the Sport season, Ermini's car won with Sbraci's Grand Sport Prix the Firenze-Fiesole , The Collina Pistoiese Cup, the prestigious 3° place overall/ 1° in class at the Napoli Grand Prix, the 4° overall/ 1° in class at the Dolomiti Golden Cup and overall victory at the Toscana's Cup with the Torpedo Ermini of Bormioli.
These placements allowed the Venetian pilot to be ranked at the 4th place in the Sport class 1100's Italian league.
During the year 1949 they obtained a lot of success and request to purchase the Ermini engines with Fiat crank-case increased. (They developed 82CV at 6200g/m).
During the season '49- '50 the Ermini Company constructed about 10 engines which were installed in different gentlemen's racing cars (Fiat-Stanguellini, Fiat-1100S, Fiat-Leone, Fiat-Petrini, SVA, Tinarelli etc...) replacing the less powerful engine.
It was the variety and the number of vehicles that replaced with the Fiat-Ermini engine that created confusion during research and historical cataloging of Florentine cars (often the construction of the entire car was wrongly attributed to the Florentine workshop so a lot of cars that were equipped with FIAT-ERMINI engine (like some Fiat-Stanguellini 1100 sport) never given the right motor classification which contributed to the success of those not so fast cars equipped with Fiat 1100 engine.
In 1950 Ermini encouraged by good results and the economic income, he commission to Glico in Milan a tubular chassis with an oval section to make its cars more competitive.
In that year he prepared three cars: two Torpedos and a Berlinetta, their bodys were built by Motto Torino.
In 1950 CSAI new rules imposed the use of 80 octane petrol thus undermining the competition of Cisitalia-Abarth and the Fiat-Stanguellini, which until the previous year had used special alcohol mixture to enhance their engines and now couldn't compete to the power of Fiat-Ermini engine.
The results will come soon and over the prestigious affirming of the Fiat-Ermini engine at the Mille Miglia (11°place/13° overall in class) with Montanari and Cappelli at the Umbria tour (2°placeoverall in class) with Montanari, during the Collina Pistoiese's Cup they won with Tergi, and they obtained the victory in class during the Susa-Moncenisio with the touring driver Ugo Puma.
The year triumphantly ended with the conquest of the Italian 1100 Sport Championship with Piero Scotti who won in class the Targa Florio and the Toscana's Cup.
By the end of the year 6 engines were sold and in 1951 three cars were built equipped by Tubular Glico chassis Torpedo shape. Two of these were bodied by Motto Torino and the other was bodied by the Mariani workshop in Pistoia.
The competition with Stanguellini and Osca's cars became more and more intense and they convinced the Florentine builder to abandon his project to developed the Ermini –Fiat engine in favor of designing, with the help of engineer Alberto Massimino, a new four cylinder engine.
To increase the power of the engine, was adopted a solution which provides an aluminum block with five main bearings with a new project of twin overhead cam.
In the 1951 sport season, the most prestigious results was obtained by Palmieri(2° in class an 5° overall) At the Targa Florio driving the Berlinetta equipped by Motto Torino.
The same year an Ermini's Berlinetta, debutted abroad at the Grand Prix of Abbazia in Jugoslavia, it was driven by Malagola Anziani, who won his class obtained the 2° place.
In the end of 1950 the best driver Piero Scotti passed to an higher category and they felt the lack of support structure on the official race track.
This lack was soon filled by the birth of a "Ermini's Team corse" that was shown for the first time in 1952 during the Mille Miglia.
In the 1952 the 3° car built in the year before was eqiupped with the new Ermini engine for Attilio Brandi.
The Torped-shaped vehicle was adapted to the new regulations of the International Sporting Code which provided the wings were attached to the body of vehicle taking the name of Iternational Ermini Sport.
In 1952 two other cars were prepared by Motto Torino and they had the covers wheel as required by regulations, one of this was driven by Aldo Tergi and the other by Ugo Puma.
The Glico chassis was refine in the back with the new system of suspension with short leaf spring suck cantilever and reaction rafter replacing the previous heavier long spring. Attilio brandi obtained the 3° place in the Italian Championship 1100 sport, (he won four times his own class: Firenze-Fiesole, Terni-Marmore, Consuma's Cupaand Sassari-Cagliari).
Moreover Aldo Tergi won the Targa Florio and he came 2° in class at the Dolomiti Golden's cup.
This success allowed Brandi to came in 4° in the Italian sport Championship.
In 1953 Aldo Tergi won the class during the Consuma's Cup, and at the Balestrero's Cup, Ugo Puma won the class to Susa-Moncenisio, while Attilio Brandi confirmed the Florentine brand as the absolute protagonist of the Sicilian race, winning the race TARGA FLORIO.This success allowed Brandi to came 4° in the Italian Sport Championship.
n 1953 Ermini commissioned Frua in Turin to build a Gran Turismo 1100 berlinetta on the old tubular chassis of the Gran Premio Sport, which was involved in an accident at the Circuit of Cascine in October 1948.
The car had a steel body with aluminum doors and hoods. It was well-built and refined thanks to the contrast of the very light pastel color of the body, and dark leather interior. The car was presented at the World Bodywork Exhibition in San Remo and later at the Turin Motor Show with its engine displacement increased to 1390cc. However, the berlinetta stopped being produced.
As shown in the "Review of new European productions", which appeared in an issue of the famous magazine "Road & Track" dated March 1956, the car remained unsold for some time. It was later sold in Tuscany with a Fiat-Ermini 1100 engine.
In 1959 the owner of the car replaced the old racing engine, which was not very practical for everyday use, with a more reliable Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1300.
The reputation of Ermini cross the national border and an Ermini's engine was installed on a Cisitalia for DeRegibus that in 1953 and 1954 he took part at the 12h D'Hers and to the Agadir Grand Prix in Marocco.
The 1954 year was marked by good results like: 3° class place at the TARGA FLORIO, 6° class place at the MILLE MIGLIA, 2° place at the Bolzano-Mendola and the great team result for the Cosuma's Cup (2°/3°/4°/5°/6° class place), in the same year Giulio Cabianca debuted driving an Ermini's car and he came 3° during the II Sassari Track.
The strong competition of Osca's car provides the basics to designing a new car.
Ermini needed a new refine project, and he asked help to the engineer Alberto Massimino. The chassis designed by Massimino was made in Modena by the Caiani firm. Its peculiar feature were the sophisticated front suspension and the special torsion bar at the rear.
The Ermini's engine was equipped, by the engineer Massimino, of a new head with two spark plugs for cylinder called "double ignition".
Since 1952 Ermini's cars were register by the florentine register with name: Ermini (because he produced the whole engine), only in 1955 thanks to the new project, l'ANFIAA recognized to the Ermini company the title of car manufacturer, and it allowing the start of its own numbering. In that year the Ermini was cited as a manufacturer house in the catalog published by Italian car at the Torino Motor Show.
By the end of 1954 they ultimated 5 chassis and during the early months of 1955 Ermini asked Scaglietti's body shop to prepared a Sport berlinetta.
Only 3 chassis were prepared because Enzo Ferrari had an exclusive agreement with Scaglietti and he couldn't tolerate the Ermini's competition in Modena territory.
For this reason the two remain chassis were bodied following the line of the three Scaglietti's chassis by Morelli brothers from Ferrara.
In 1955 the reborn Classe Sport 1500 (removed in the past 4 year due to lack of manufacturers) was interesting by the presence of the already proven Osca Mt4 and new Ermini 357, Maserati 150S. Porsche 550RS.
The Classe 1500 Sport season was characterized by the mixed results. Over long distance such as the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio, Ermini engine has not been reliable but on the hill climbing of Parma-Poggio Berceto took a resounding victory in its own class distancing Massedaglia' s Porche 550RS by 33''01.
In 1100 Sport Class the florentine cars showed immediately themself competitives and they won in class at the hill climbing of Torricelle at the Trapani-Monte Erice, at the hill climbing of Fasano and at the reborn Mugello circuit.
In this last race the Osca's drivers didn't accept the defeat and suspicious that Ermini's car could had been equipped with 1500cc engines, they put unnecessary complain completely unfounded.
After tragic events happened during the 24h in Les Mans, the CSAI decided to suspend all manifestations of speed on the road allowing only some hill climbing races with limitated distance and the superiority of florentine didn't materialized in the Italian Championship.
At the end of 1955 the Ermini 357 Scaglietti of Enrico Manzini (equipped with 1500cc engine) was sold to the Italo-american "Tony" Pompeo who export the car in the west coast of the USA. The Barchetta started immediately kicked the race tracks at the Nassu Speed Weeks (Bahamas) driven by Pompeo.
In January 1956 the car was sold to James Orr who driven it at the 6h to Torrey Pines and in other local races. Than it was sold again to Hew Florence which ran in Bremerton Washington. Then the car was bought by Tom Fox who badly damaged the beautiful light alloy body of car and he asked to the Bill Devin's workshop to restore it.
Devin was fascinated by the line of Ermini's car and he couldn't find in the states cheap and specialized manpower able to repair the alloy so he decided to use it like a mould to set up a fiberglass body.
With the new body, Bill Devin gave birth to a small number of Kit Car and many local manufacturers of Sport cars as Huffaker, Echidna and Miller, used it to cover their design.
In 1956 Enrico Manzini bought the last 357 Ermini bodied by Morelli and he obtained the prestigious 2° place in class at hill climbing of the Torricelle and at the Bologna-S.Luca. We don't know by what kind of strange coincidences in 1956 an old Ermini-Fiat engine showed up in Holland powering an homemade sport car driven by Luyenijk (father of the future champion of the Indianapolis 500 Miles) winner at Zandvoort.
In 1958 the same Fiat-Ermini engine despite having more than 10 years was installed on a new car that was in the garage of the holland preparer John Swaab. It was the testimony of its excepional longevity.
In 1957 following a tragic accident at the Mille Miglia were abolished all the speed races on the road and only Buoncristiani and Mazzini were able to maintain the honor of the florentine brand in the distraught sports calendar of the season.
In the south of Italy is still running road races and Tagliavia with an International Ermini Sport came 3° in class durind the Giro of Sicily.
Unfortunately Ermini began his longest and most difficult battle against a terrible illness that forced him to abandon the developpment of its "cratures".
Despite the cars were guarded by trusted foreman Rodolfo Salvadori, they lost the verve of better times.
In 1958 Ermini died which meant the end of florentine brand, even though many of its cars continued to run mostly in southern of Italy until the early sixties.
The workshop, now, dedicated only to the maintenance of private car, was finally closed in 1962.