In the years after World War II, Pasquale Ermini rose to fame building small, lightweight race cars (called “Barchettas,” Italian for “little boats”) with engines around one liter in displacement.

Ermini’s cars were successful, frequently besting competitors from companies like Osca, Ferrari and Porsche, and Americans became (somewhat) familiar with Ermini through the work of auto manufacturer Bill Devin. By 1963, the company was out of business, and a 2007 rebirth never panned out.

Now comes word from Italy’s that a new Ermini barchetta, the 686, may soon be gracing the Autostradas. The new Ermini will use chassis assemblies supplied by Osella, and will adopt a rear-engine, rear-drive layout. While components will be sourced from various manufacturers, the goal is to use nothing but best-in-class parts.

The carbon fiber body has been styled by Giulio Cappellini, Design Team Ermini’s chief designer. Power will come form a Renault-sourced 2.0-liter engine, mated to a sequential six-speed manual gearbox. Thanks to the car’s light weight (around 1,500 pounds), the 0-100 km/h (62 mph) dash is said to take just 3.4 seconds.

Though the 686 is still in the design stages, Ermini’s goal is to begin sales in 2013, at a yet-to-be-disclosed price.

Ermini isn’t the only Italian revival hitting the market, either, as All Car Index reports that boutique Italian brand ATS will also be staging a comeback in the near future. Founded by former associates of Enzo Ferrari, ATS (for Automobili Turismo e Sport) originally intended to produce both road and racing cars.

Unveiled at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, ATS’ 2500 GT was described as “elegant” and “timeless.” Power came from a 2.5-liter V-8 mounted amidships, rated at an estimated 210 horsepower. In 1964, the company introduced the “superleggera” model, the 2500 GTS,with output bumped up to 250 horsepower.  

ATS only produced between six and twelve cars total during its brief lifespan, and only five are known to exist today. While the brand may be obscure, it’s also beloved by its fans, which is why news of an ATS revival is being well received.

Two cars are planned, including the race-inspired but road-legal Sport 1000. Inspired by Britain’s Radical SR3, the car will be extremely lightweight, with power coming form the motorcycle engine of the buyer’s choice.

A new 2500 GT will be offered, too, with style that pays homage to the ATS 2500 GT of the early 1960s. Power will come from a Cosworth-tuned, supercharged Subaru boxer engine, said to be good for 550 horsepower. That should be plenty in a car with a curb weight of just 2,200 pounds.

Due to the complexity and expense of federalizing cars for U.S. buyers, we seriously doubt we’ll encounter either on U.S. roads. We’re all for reviving historic brands, though, and wish Ermini and ATS the best of luck with their return to market.


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