Fiat is one of Italy's oldest and greatest car manufacturers and, although remarkably successful in early motor racing, has made surprisingly few real sports cars. The Turin firm won the French Grand Prix in 1907 and again in 1922 when Nazzaro won the race at 79.10 mph in a two-liter Fiat. Yet the first notable sports car to emerge was, arguably, the 1934 Fiat 508 "Balilla," following several class wins by various Fiats in the Mille Miglias of the late 1920s and early '30s.
Fiat sprung something of a surprise at the 1952 Geneva Motor Show when they introduced their next competition car, the two-liter vee-eight engined 8V. It was designed for motor racing and became very successful, its long and distinguished record including the two-liter GT Championship Italy in 1954.
The light alloy V8 engine was novel in that the angle between cylinder banks was 70° to keep the unit narrow, and the 8V's chassis was of tubular steel; suspension was independent all round using components from other Fiat models. Dante Giacosa supervised the design and, because only 114 8Vs were constructed during the two-year production period, they were mostly hand built.
Similarly, the steel bodies were hand crafted at Fiat, Ghia or Zagato and welded to the chassis frame. The body shape was evolved in a wind tunnel. The 8V chassis and running gear was used by Fiat to take a gas turbine engine for research in 1954.
This 8V pictured here is in excellent condition but showing a nice patina and trace of use. The steel bodywork, with aluminum bonnet, is original and beautifully restored. The interior has black leather covered bucket seats, the door trim is black, the roof lining and carpets grey. It has a wood-rimmed steering wheel. The engine bay is beautiful and the recorded mileage is 34,550. The car was initially sold in Italy, then went to England where it stayed from 1963 to 1973 and subsequently went to Switzerland. It has been owned by the same enthusiast since 1984. It is an unusual, charismatic and eminently usable sports car, a perfect entry for the 1000 Miglia and similar events.
|Vehicle:||1953 Fiat 8V|
$97,560 was the magic number that caused SN 19 to find a new home on 22 May 1997 at the Christie’s Geneva auction.
Rumor has it that the last Zagato-bodied 8V to find a home was placed by SCM contributor Raymond Milo for around $75,000. And this was a car in need of total restoration, normally a $100,000 proposition. Further, the supply of unrestored 8Vs may be exhausted.
Therefore, even this less-desirable Rappi-bodied car should be considered a very good buy, as in effect the new owner was getting a free car after paying only for the cost of restoration. Better yet, the car has been fettled, meaning that the new owner isn’t going to spend the next five vintage events (at $1,000/day!) finding out which hoses weren’t properly tightened, or which knock-on spinner like to loosen themselves on the highway. – ED.