Piero Dusio was a footballer in his youth, and good enough to play for Juventus on a number of occasions in 1921 and 1922, when he was in his early twenties. A knee injury would switch his focus to business and he excelled as a fabric salesman. By 1929 he was bored of that and saw the opportunity to start his own business, called Manifatture Bosco SA, producing waterproof material for the Italian market. This was an instant success and he rapidly diversified into the manufacturing of clothing and then sporting goods, such as tennis rackets and racing bicycles.
In 1932 he agreed a contract with Italian leader Benito Mussolini to provide uniforms for the Italian army. His diversification also saw him moving into finance and real estate. He took control of the commercial activities of Juventus. His hobby once he was rich was motorsport. He began racing in 1929 with an entry in the Mille Miglia. He would go on to compete in the race every year until 1938, while also dipping his toes into racing single-seaters, his best result being sixth in the Italian GP in 1936, albeit 13 laps behind the winner. He also set up Scuderia Torino, to run cars for others. These adventures inspired him to try to turn his racing into a business and the name Cisitalia appeared with the merger of four of his companies in 1942 when he established Manifatture Bosco – Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italiana. In 1946 this entity changed its name to Cisitalia and the company’s raison d’être expanded to include the manufacture of industrial machines and vehicles.
During the war years he commissioned former Fiat designer Dante Giacosa to a 1100cc racing car for him for the post-war era. The Cisitalia D46 was in action soon after the war finished and Dusio used one to win the Coppa Brezzi in Turin in September 1946. The car quickly became popular in the racing world, which was deprived of new machinery. It was used by a number of teams and drivers, including veterans Tazio Nuvolari and Louis Chiron. In 1947 Piero Taruffi took one of the cars to win his class in the Italian national championship while Cisitalia expanded to produce some sports cars as well, for the road and for the track, and the company did well on the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio. It was in a position to take on Ferrari in the luxury sports car market.
It was at this point that Carlo Abarth, Porsche’s Italian distributor, who was running a Cisitalia for Scuderia Scagliarini, asked Dusio if he would like to manufacture a Grand Prix car that had been designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1939. At the time Ferdinand Porsche was incarcerated in a French prison in Dijon on some very dubious charges. Those holding him were willing to release him in exchange for a substantial sum of money and Dusio provided much of this. Porsche was released in August 1947 and the prototype car was built in Italy with Porsche sending former AutoUnion engineer Robert Eberan von Eberhorst to oversee the project. The engine was a complicated 1.5-litre supercharged flat-12 and the car featured such exotic things as four-wheeled drive, a sequential gear-shift and a rear-mounted transaxle which channeled power to a front differential. The Type 360 was way too complicated a project for such a small business and the firm soon ran out of money. The prototype appeared in 1948 but there was no money to run it and the car was left undeveloped. The factory was closed down and the sports cars were handed over to Abarth, while Dusio disappeared off to Argentina where President Juan Peron was keen to start an automobile industry. Douse started a new car company called Autocar, although this was without much success. Cisitalia went into liquidation in 1949.
Today the prototype Type 360 is in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.