Diatto was an Italian manufacturing company founded in 1835 in Turin by Guglielmo Diatto to make 'carriages for wealthy customers'. In 1874 Guglielmo’s sons, Giovanni and Battista Diatto, began building railway carriages for Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits and the Orient Express. In 1905 Guglielmo's grandsons, Vittorio and Pietro Diatto, began Diatto-Clément, a cooperative venture making motor-vehicles under license from French manufacturer Clément-Bayard owned by industrialist Adolphe Clément-Bayard. By 1909 they had full ownership of 'Autocostruzioni Diatto' and began developing their own motor-vehicles and exporting them worldwide.

From 1905 the company built two and four cylinder cars based on the Clément-Bayard, a leading contemporary French manufacturer. By the 1920s, Diatto was making quality cars of its own design, including race cars with supercharged eight-cylinder engines. Diatto also supplied frames to Bugatti which used them for their own race cars. Some Diatto racers were prepared and raced by Alfieri Maserati who left Diatto in 1926 to establish the Maserati marque with his brothers.

Diatto cars were known for their innovative engineering and as early as the 1920s they were equipped with four-wheel brakes and four-speed gearboxes.

Diatto ceased production in 1929.

Fateceased production,
HeadquartersTurin, Italy
Key people
Pietro and Vittorio Diatto, founders
Diatto 20-DA
Diatto 20 DA Torpedo (1921)


19th century

In 1835 Guglielmo Diatto, a 30-year-old wheelwright from Carmagnola, founded a workshop on the banks of the river Po in Turin for the manufacture and repair of carriage wheels. The business developed into building carriages for nobility and Diatto Manifattura di Carrozze (Carriage Manufacture) became a successful industrial concern.[1]

In 1838 Guglielmo Diatto was awarded his first patent for a 'perfected wheel'. The patent is held at the 'National Museum of Automobiles' in Turin.

In 1874 the founder’s sons, Giovanni and Battista, began building luxury railway carriages for Compagnie des Wagons Lits et des Grands Express Europeens of Paris who ran the Orient Express, the Nord Express, the Sud Express and the Transsibérien across Russia.


In 1905 the grandsons of the founder, Vittorio and Pietro Diatto, believed that motor-vehicle production represented the future for the 'carriage market'. On 12 April 1905, they founded the Società Diatto-A. Clement in partnership with the French company Clément-Bayard, owned by Adolphe Clément-Bayard of Paris. Diatto-Clément had a workforce of 500 (Note: Fiat had 776) and produced cars with 4 and 6 cylinder engines.

The company achieved significant sporting success from the outset. In 1906 it won the Herkomer Competition in Germany against 134 competitors (1800 km from Frankfurt to Innsbruk); the Lugano-San Gottardo (speed trial over 7 hours through the mountain passes) in Switzerland; and the Italian Gold Cup, defeating 48 competitors over 4000 km in 11 daily stages across Italy.

It also won the 1907 Cannes Cup, for fuel economy and the 1908 Saint Petersburg-Moscow 700 km race.

Autocostruzioni Diatto

In 1909 the Diatto brothers bought out Adolphe Clément-Bayard and renamed the company 'Autocostruzioni Diatto'. The new company continued with its sporting reputation and traded on the slogan : Queen of lightweight vehicles, fast, comfortable, elegant.

The company developed a worldwide sales and support network, with vehicles being exported to :

  • Argentina,
  • Australia,
  • Austria,
  • Brazil,
  • Canada,
  • Cuba,
  • France,
  • Germany,
  • Poland,
  • Russia,
  • Spain,
  • Switzerland,
  • United Kingdom,
  • USA

From 1912 onwards Diatto expanded rapidly, becoming one of the top Italian industrial groups. In 1915, it acquired both the Scacchi factory in Chivasso, in which the workforce of 100 built five cars per month,[n 1] and the 'Vetture Automobili Leggere Torino' (V.A.L.T.) factory.de:Vetture Automobili Leggere Torino[n 2] It then consolidated both the workforces and plant in the new factory in 'Via Frejus' (Turin) where they were able to produce over 40 units a month.

Gnome et Rhône

Diatto acquired a controlling share of the leading aviation engine manufacturer Gnome et Rhône from 'Weiter and Waugham'. Gnome manufactured around 200 rotary aviation engines per month. Under Diatto ownership their technological know-how was also integrated into the motor-vehicles.

The Gnome et Rhone 9 cylinder rotary engine won several prestigious trans-European prizes such as the Mediterranean crossing; the Gordon Bennet Cup; the Reims Meeting; plus the Raids of Friedrichshafen, Düsseldorf, Cuxhaven, Zeebrugge, and Dunkerque. The build-up to World War 1 lead to orders for 5,000 aviation engines for Italy, Russia, France and United Kingdom.[2]


After the first world war they added 8 cylinder supercharged engines with aluminium pistons and 4 valves per cylinder, up to 6,000 cc.

Revival of the marque

On 9 February 2007 Zagato announced the revival of the Diatto marque to celebrate its 100th anniversary. At the 77th Geneva Motor Show in March 2007 it unveiled a new all-aluminum sports car called the Diatto Ottovù Zagato.

Sporting victories, Palmares

Diatto-Clement competition victories included:

  • 1906 Herkomer Competition, Germany, against 134 competitors (1800 km from Frankfurt to Innsbruk);
  • 1906 Lugano-San Gottardo (speed trial over 7 hours through the mountain passes) in Switzerland;
  • 1906 Italian Gold Cup, defeating 48 competitors over 4000 km in 11 daily stages across Italy.
  • 1907 Cannes Cup, for fuel economy
  • 1908 Saint Petersburg-Moscow 700 km race.

Autocostruzioni Diatto competition victories included :

  • 1909 Italy - Modena “Mile record”;
  • 1910 UK - Brooklands;
  • 1913 Italy - Parma-Poggio di Berceto (the Race to the mountain);
  • 1914 Spain - Barcelona “Rebassada Cup”;
  • 1914 France - “Tourist Cup” (3120 km, economy and efficiency prizes with the lowest fuel consumption);
  • 1914 Italy - the Milan-Sanremo (320 km reliability trial).
  • 1923 Italy - 'Circuito del Garda' won by Guido Meregalli.

See also


  1. ^ The Scacchi factory in Chivasso had been founded in 1911 by Cesare Scacchi, previously a workshop supervisor at Fiat.
  2. ^ The 'Vetture Automobili Leggere Torino' (V.A.L.T.) factory was built in 1911, and after the Diatto stripping of workforce and plant it was acquired by the British industrialist John Newton.


  1. ^ www.diatto.it. Diatto History
  2. ^ Motori, Aero, Cicli & Sports, 1915–1919): The most illuminated science and the greatest experience in automotive and aviation mechanics

External links

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1922 Italian Grand Prix

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Automotive industry in Italy

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Today the Italian automotive industry is almost totally dominated by Fiat Group; in 2001 over 90% of vehicles were produced by it. As well as its own, predominantly mass market model range, Fiat owns the upmarket Alfa Romeo and Lancia brands and the exotic Maserati.

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Carmagnola (Italian: [karmaɲˈɲɔːla]; Piedmontese: Carmagnòla [karmaˈɲɔla] (listen)) is a comune (municipality) in the Metropolitan City of Turin in the Italian region Piedmont, located 29 kilometres (18 mi) south of Turin. The town is on the right side of the Po river. The nature of the soil determined over time how the river's sand accumulated.

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Circuito del Garda

Circuito del Garda

is an Italian racing venue in Salò on the banks of Lake Garda,

known for hosting fifteen Grand Prix races between

1921 and 1966.These were arranged in three periods.

Between 1921-27 there were victories by Diatto drivers Eugenio Silvani (1921) and Guido Meregalli (1922-24),

as well as Bugatti drivers Aymo Maggi (1925-26) and Tazio Nuvolari (1927 in a Bugatti 25).

Next, in the period 1948-50 there were victories by Ferrari drivers Giuseppe Farina (1948), Luigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari.

The third period was the final, between


Coppa Fiera di Milano

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In the spirit of the Milan Trade Fair, the competition was intended to demonstrate the technological level reached by cars, rather than their speed performance. The race was won by a Diatto 30 Sport, with an 8-cylinder 2000cc engine, driven by the Alfieri Maserati.


For cycle, motor-cycle, motor-car, aeroplane and airship companies associated with French industrialist Adolphe Clément-Bayard - see Clement (disambiguation).Diatto-Clément, Diatto A Clément, was an Franco Italian manufacturer of motor vehicles between 1905 and 1909. Adolphe Clément-Bayard created the 'Diatto-Clément Societa Anonima' in partnership with Diatto who had been coachbuilders in Turin since 1835.The Diatto-Clément cars, known as Torinos, were built in Turin under licence from Clément, thus in Italy they were known as 'Diatto A Clément'. The first car was the 20-25HP which used a 3,770cc four cylinder engine. This was followed by a 10-12HP (1,884cc two-cylinder) and a 14-18HP (2,724cc four-cylinder). This series was a success and was followed by a six-cylinder model.In 1909 Clément-Bayard left the business and the company was renamed 'Societa Fonderie Officine Frejus'.Giovanni Gagliardi drove a Diatto Clément 10/12 hp to class victory in the Milano-Sanremo race on 4-5 April 1906. Entered in the class for 'Cars costing L. 4000 to L. 8000' it covered the 317 km in 9 hours 17 minutes 3 seconds.

Diatto Ottovù Zagato

The Diatto Ottovù Zagato is a sports car designed and built by Milanese coachbuilder Carrozzeria Zagato for two of its clients. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Diatto brand, the car made its official public debut at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show. The word Otto appears, in various forms, three times in the car's name.

Back in 1921, Ugo Zagato designed a lightweight and aerodynamic body for the Diatto 25 4DS chassis. Created in 1835 with a Perfected Wheel patent, Diatto made their first car in 1905 and often crossed paths with Zagato in their close collaboration with Ettore Bugatti, the Maserati brothers and Tazio Nuvolari.

The word "Ottovù" incidentally means "V8" in Italian. A clear indication of the engine powering this vehicle and show of the car's sporting intent.

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Guido Meregalli

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He had victories in the 1920 Grand Prix season, winning the Targa Florio 1920 in a 4441 cm³ Nazzaro GP.

Driving a Diatto alongside Alfieri Maserati, he won the Circuito del Garda race three years in a row,

the 1922 Grand Prix season in a Tipo 20 (two-litre, four-cylinder),

1923 and

1924 in a Tipo 20S. At the VI Coppa Florio 1922, he was leading the

Diatto GP305 when it crashed, killing his mechanic Giuseppe Giacchino. The immediate follower, Henry Segrave gave first aid and helped out.

Switching to Maserati, Meregalli failed to finish in the

1926 Italian Grand Prix, driving a Tipo 26 (1.5-litre, eight-cylinder).


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Maserati Tipo 26

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Active manufacturers
Defunct manufacturers
Design, engineering,
and coachbuilding
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