Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975

August 10, 2016


The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975 - opened May 27, 2016, at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts - marks an unprecedented gathering of rare and stunning Italian-designed automobiles and motorcycles in a museum setting. The exhibition celebrates the streamlined elegance, novel and powerful engineering, and seductive allure characterizing Italian coachbuilt cars, concept cars, and motorcycles produced during the post–World War II economic revival. On view only at the Frist Center through October 9, 2016, Bellissima! boasts 22 extraordinary vehicles from private collections and museums that are now among the most sought-after collector cars in the world.


Returning to the Frist Center after the 2013 presentation of Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, automotive authority and guest curator Ken Gross has chosen 19 automobiles and 3 motorcycles for Bellissima!. Moving from one gem to another, visitors will experience the creative connections and brilliant design language that helped propel Italy to the global forefront of the automotive world.


Highlights include the ultra-rare trio of mid-1950s Alfa Romeo Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnicas, known as BATs, whose curvaceous fins and tapered tails suggest the curving wings and bullet-like bodies of bats in flight. The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is considered by design critic and exhibition catalogue contributor Robert Cumberford to be “the most desirable of all sports cars ever made.” The game-changing Lamborghini Miura, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is a technical tour de force and as Ken Gross writes in the exhibition catalogue, “resembles a stiletto on cast magnesium wheels.”


Lesser-known vehicles in the exhibition will offer surprises for even the most knowledgeable car aficionados. The drastically slender 1970 Lancia Stratos’ mere 33-inch-tall wedge-shaped body has doors that open vertically rather than swinging outward. The futuristic, arrow-shaped 1955 Ghia Gilda, named for Rita Hayworth’s slinky character in the film Gilda, has an elongated hood, snug cockpit, pointy rear fenders and jet-like engine whine that evoke advanced aircraft design.


Four cars on dispay are counted among the AUTOMOTIVE MASTERPIECES:


♦️ 1945 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Cabriolet Speciale (Pinin Farina) sn: 915169


♦️ 1953 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 5 (Bertone) sn: 01396

♦️ 1954 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 7 (Bertone) sn: 01485

♦️ 1955 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 9d (Bertone) sn: 01600

 Exhibition Checklist


Bella Berlinettas

1950 Cisitalia 202 SC

1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic

1955 Maserati A6G 2000 Zagato


Berlinettas: The BATs

1953 Alfa Romeo BAT 5

1954 Alfa Romeo BAT 7

1955 Alfa Romeo BAT 9


Styling Gems

1946 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 S

1952 Lancia B52 Aurelia PF200 Spider

1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica


Il Ultimo

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO


Wedge-Shaped Cars

1955 Chrysler Ghia Gilda

1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero

1966 Ferrari 365 P Tre Posti


Italian and American Excitement

1952 Cunningham C3 Continental

1955 Lincoln Indianapolis

1963 Chrysler Turbine Car


Mid-Engine Marvels
1963 ATS 2500 GT

1968 Bizzarrini 5300 Strada

1970 Lamborghini Miura S


On Two Wheels

1957 Moto Guzzi V-8

1973 MV Agusta 750 Sport

1974 Ducati 750 Super Sport