Ilario Bandini

Ilario Bandini

18/4/1911 - 12/4/1992

A farmer's son, Bandini, was a remarkable man, who during the course of some 30 years created the jewel-like Bandini sports racers.

Ilario Bandini was born in Forli Italy a farmer’s son. Bandini, known as "Lili" to his close friends, was a remarkable man, who during the course of some 30 years created the jewel-like Bandini sports racers.

He was trained as a mechanic and in 1936 traveled to Africa where he made a small fortune returning to Forli in 1938. He opened his own shop and then a Lancia dealership.  He built his first racing car in 1947.  It featured a tubular chassis, a tuned Fiat 1100cc engine, and a hand hammered aluminum body by Rocco Motto.

The Bandini badge featured a bantam rooster crowing, the symbol of the town of Forli. It was an appropriate symbol, for Bandini was a very short person, he strutted and persevered until the racing world took notice of his cars and victories, primarily in the heavily contested 750cc class and he ruled the roost at home, though never married, primarily because he was too busy chasing beautiful women. 

From then on he concentrated on producing purpose built racing cars to compete in races such as the Mille Miglia in Italy and the SCCA series in America.  His biggest success in America came in 1955 and 1957 when a Bandini Siluro won the National Class H Modified championship.

The Siluro continued to win SCCA Class H Mod races well into the mid 1960’s. In fact Jack Reuter’s 1955 Siluro 750cc Twin Cam was undefeated and won the Southwest Regional Championship from 1962-1964.

This car is one of three remaining Siluros with a DOHC Bandini engine.  Bandini then moved on to the Saponetta envelope body car in 1957.  These cars raced with 750cc, 850cc, and 1000cc engines.  In 1960 he produced one of the most successful and beautiful Formula Juniors. Bandini continued to make one off cars well into the 1980’s. He died in 1992.  Seventy five Bandinis were constructed in Ilario's Lancia dealership between 1947 and 1972 and 46 are known to still exist today.  Ilario Bandini's Nephew, Dr. Dino Bandini, has honored his Uncles memory by creating the Ilario Bandini Museum in Forli Italy, which houses at least seven examples of Bandini sportsracers.

Bandini was in many ways one of the more important Italian race car manufacturers. He was respected by Ferrari whom he knew well and was a true representative of the Italian passion for motor racing.

With thanks to Cliff Reuter

Leave a comment