Restoring a 1956 Bandini Barchetta (Little Boat) Racer...
It was beyond saving! At least that was the initial impression of practically everyone who saw the Bandini after it was dragged out of Larry Melsheimer's shed in Vincennes, Indiana. Over the years, rust had ran rampant in its steel tubular frame. Where water had welled, corrosion had attacked the steel frame and worked its way completely through. The coil-over shocks were jammed fast with corrosion as was almost every other steel component. Even the so called "good" sections of the frame were deeply pitted. The aluminum body shell which had been lovingly hand hammered was no better. Not only did it show scrapes and scars from its racing days, electrolysis had set up housekeeping where the steel and aluminum components met. It appears that little or no concern had been on the minds of the Italians when they joined the dissimilar metals. Reflecting back to the '50's when the Bandini was built, there may have been no concern for corrosion. The attitude was "It's a race car!" Nuf said! Also, significant is the fact that Bandini's successful racing history was yet to be fully realized.
Before we go any farther, let‚s step back and refresh our memories on this very rare race car that one rarely sees or hears about today.
Ilario Bandini, a farm-boy, became proficient at mechanics and opened a shop in 1938 in Forli, Italy. Shortly, he would get into racing. Success followed in an upward flight and in 1947 he built the first car to bear the Bandini name, a sleek aero-design vehicle fitted with an aluminum body by Motto. It was powered by a Fiat 1100 engine tuned by Bandini and sitting in a tubular frame. Racing success continued and by the early 1950's, Bandini was building his own bodies sitting on the tried-and-proven tubular frame architecture. Power came from America via a modified Crosley SOHC engine, a version somewhat similar to the Offenhauser, the engine of choice at the Indy 500 for several decades.
Most Bandinis were fitted with aluminum bodies built in house with reportedly the first four leaving the shop with Motto bodies. Late in 1957, a DOHC cylinder head engine was used to increase performance. The SOHC version in our shop was imported to the U.S. in 1956. Total production of Bandini cars amounted to only 73 (some sources say 75) from 1946 to 1988 (another source says 1991). Currently, 46 examples are known to exist according to the Bandini Register.
Back to the Bandini at D&D.