According to Fiat factory records, this 8V, chassis 106000065, was completed on October 6, 1953, and it was delivered to the famed Milanese coachbuilder Zagato as a bare chassis.

As a first-series 8VZ, the car features clean, uncluttered lines and the rare, flat dashboard used only on the earliest examples. Originally finished in white, the completed Zagato-bodied Fiat has the distinction of being the only right-hand-drive 8V ever built. Originally registered in Milan in March 1955, it was often seen competing in the most prominent Italian races and hillclimbs.

The first competition outing for the 8VZ took place on June 29, 1955, at the Trieste-Opicina Hillclimb, where Ottavio Guarducci managed to finish in 6th place. On July 10, the pair made an appearance at the IX Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti and once again, Guarducci and the 8V delivered a respectable 6th in class result. On September 11, Guarducci entered the 8VZ in the VII Coppa Intereuropa at Monza, a race that featured a competitive field of the latest European GTs. Wearing race number 96, Guarducci’s Fiat gave a brilliant performance that culminated in an outright victory. In so doing, the white 8VZ vanquished a grid that consisted of Maserati A6G/54 Zagatos, 300SL Gullwings, Porsche Carreras and almost a dozen Fiats.

On September 2, 1956, Guarducci again campaigned the 8VZ, returning to Monza for the running of the VIII Coppa Intereuropa. Battling Ferrari 250s, Mercedes-Benz 300SLs and a number of 8VZs through difficult, rainy conditions, Guarducci came across the finish line 9th overall and 5th in class. The 8VZ retired from racing and was sold to its second owner in December 1957 — Alessandro Cantoni, residing in the Piacenza province of Italy.

The car is believed to have remained in Italy until the late 1980s, when it was acquired by Andrea Zagato, the grandson of famed Milanese coachbuilder Ugo Zagato and the current CEO of the company. He commissioned a thorough restoration overseen by him personally, during which parts of the alloy coachwork were replaced employing the methods and materials that were used by the same firm several decades earlier.

Following its restoration, Andrea Zagato drove the 8VZ in the 1991 and 1992 Mille Miglia Storicas. The car was later sold to a collector in Holland, and it then went to an Italian enthusiast about five years ago.

In May 2007, a FIVA identity card was issued for the 8VZ, category A3 for original cars restored to original specification. With this classification, this 8VZ is eligible for some of the most stringent international events including the Mille Miglia Storica, where it was last entered in 2011, and Concorso Villa d’Este. The new owner is sure to be rewarded with a wonderful sports car that can be enjoyed for years to come, while offering the ideal foundation for an exacting, show-quality restoration.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1953 Fiat 8V Zagato coupe

This car sold for $750,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Gooding & Company Amelia Island, FL, auction on March 9, 2012.

One of the reasons the Zagato company had such a long and storied reign designing and building bodies for racing cars is a simple one: Founder Ugo Zagato and his heirs and successors truly understood racing. The lessons Ugo brought from airplane construction were incorporated into his designs, and the time that his son Elio spent competing in the 1940s and ’50s corresponded with the creation some of the most successful cars in the company’s history.

Sitting behind the wheel on a starting grid or at the base of a hillclimb will focus your thoughts on what it takes to finish in front in a way like no other. For the Zagato family, the need for light weight, comfort, strength and fuel economy weren’t theoretical concepts to be worked out on paper, or left to chance on the altar of style for its own sake.

The time Elio Zagato spent competing in the 1950s corresponded with the creation some of the most successful cars in the company’s history. Perhaps it is one of the reasons that some Zagato designs don’t have the pure beauty of the best of Pininfarina, Bertone or some Vignale creations. But the competition record of Zagato-bodied Fiats, Alfa Romeos and Lancias expresses more dramatically the proof of the form meeting the need of function quite well.

That the Fiat 8V has such an excellent competition record can largely be put down to the 30 Zagato-bodied examples, which performed so much better than the factory-bodied cars.

Improved performance and comfort

With its great history in period competition, the 8V Zagato is, of course, welcome at all the highest-level vintage race, rally and tour events. It was launched with a power output of 105 horsepower, which grew to 115 horsepower and then to an ultimate-spec 125 horsepower for the dual carb version.

Today’s cars can produce up to 160 horsepower and turn nearly 7,000 rpm without the connecting rods making a break for freedom — thanks to advances in engine technology that have all but eliminated the oil supply problems that the 2-liter V8 suffered in period.

When fully finished inside, these cars are also comfortable places to spend hours at a time. The sport seats that Zagato designed and built in the 1950s are arguably the most supportive and advanced of their time.

Zagato provenance

This 8V Zagato was interesting in two important ways. First, as the only right-hand-drive example built, and second, Andrea Zagato restored the car at the Zagato factory for his own use in vintage rallying.

The first point makes one wonder why it was built and for whom, as history records that a year and five months went by from the time the chassis was delivered to Zagato to when the first owner registered the car. It seems as if no one actually wanted an RHD 8V Zagato.

The second point emphasizes that cars restored at the factory are often sought after, even if, as in this case, the factory has very little connective history with the original build.

Anyone who took a look at this car during the preview may have been surprised at the overall level of the restoration, which was not done to international concours standards by any means. Even allowing for the passage of 22 years since the completion of work, the orange peel in the paint, the casual fit of the interior windshield frame, some pitting and dullness in the alloy trim and incorrect black finishing on the air cleaner could lead one to believe that this was not expert work.

But to reach such a conclusion would be to entirely miss the point of the restoration.

From the braided hoses and auxiliary electric radiator fan under the hood to the Dymo tape labels for the anonymous dash switches, it’s clear that this Fiat was restored to do what it was built to do — run.

As was the case with the recent profile I wrote on the Lancia Aurelia B24 convertible from Gooding’s Scottsdale sale (April 2012, p. 54), I had the great fortune to drive this particular 8V in my duties as co-host, with Publisher Martin, of Velocity TV’s “What’s My Car Worth,” for an episode shot at the Gooding Amelia Island sale.

It was a thrilling drive, with lots of power, superb handling from a fully sorted suspension, and a confidence-inspiring gearbox with a very positive action. Cosmetically, it was probably still finished a bit better than it was when it first left the Zagato factory but had the proper feel of a car meant to lead a working life. This car was not the automotive equivalent of a fluffy kitten on a feather pillow, which is so often the case with restored cars. The presence of the original V8 engine — not to be taken for granted on one of these cars — is an added bonus.

Try to find another one

There was a time in the past few years when the ask/buy ratio for the 8V Zagato had reached a bit of a stalemate. Sellers were trying for $795k–$950k, and buyers were stopping in the $550k–$600k range — with the inevitable result of no sale.

This car, with an estimate of $750k–$900k, didn’t meet reserve at a high bid of $700k when it drove across the block. A bit later in the day, Gooding announced that a deal had been struck, and the price reported, $750,000 including buyer’s premium, seems to indicate that compromises were made to move it along.

As it is, I think the result was certainly fair to both sides — the seller realized a reasonable number and the buyer obtained a terrific, usable car with few, if any, immediate needs. I think in a very short time this will prove to be well bought, as these cars still represent outstanding value compared with the Maseratis and Ferraris they raced against in period.

With the good early history, Andrea Zagato provenance and working restoration, this car would be tough to replicate in the market. For a serious driver, the RHD isn’t a real impediment, especially with the quality of the gearbox, but its rarity is not a value enhancer, either.

I also add a wish that this car is well used and lovingly maintained for years to come and doesn’t fall victim to a precious, soul-sapping restoration that destroys the very essence of this Fiat.

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