1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic by Ghia

Darin Schnabel ©2017, courtesy of RM Sothebys

Fiat’s most legendary, significant, and storied production model, the 8V, was aptly described in Road & Track in 1952 as “the biggest surprise of the year.” It came as a shock to the automotive world when Fiat suddenly introduced a powerful sports car with an advanced overhead-valve, light-alloy V8 engine, Siata-fabricated chassis and four-wheel independent suspension, which could be — and was — successfully raced by privateers all over the world.

Like most sophisticated chassis of the time, the 8V lent itself handsomely to custom coachwork, which Fiat encouraged.

Carrozzeria Ghia of Torino accounted for approximately 30 to 40 of the 114 8V chassis built, of which the most striking were the 15 bodied to Giovanni Savonuzzi’s stunning Jet Age design, known, simply and appropriately, as the Supersonic.

The Supersonic design had originally been proposed for an Alfa Romeo racing car, which Savonuzzi gave a steeply raked, long windshield; a curved nose that formed a straight-through beltline, ending at small tailfins flaring off lights intended to resemble jet afterburners; and a low, glassy greenhouse. Similar styling on an 8V chassis was subsequently ordered by American designer Paul Farago, and 14 more copies followed, all of which had detail differences but remained largely true to Savonuzzi’s original and dramatic design. They are considered the most sought-after and desirable 8Vs, as they boast the best combination of avant-garde design from the Jet Age.

Winner of the People’s Choice Award at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and judged Most Unique at Classic Sports Sunday at Mar-a-Lago in 2016, it remains spectacular, fresh and ready for continued appearances at further national and international concours d’elegance. Alternatively, it is ready for participation in the Mille Miglia Storica, Colorado Grand or any number of other historic rallies for which such a significant automobile is always eligible.