1953 Fiat 8V "Corsa"
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Mille Miglia 1953 - Un film Shell (IT)
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no. 4 manufactured. 1 of 4 manufactured
In the postwar period, Fiat was working on an eight-cylinder engine internally known as Tipo 106. The engine was originally designed by Dante Giacosa for a luxury sedan, but that project was stopped. Rudolf Hruska, at the time working at the S.I.A.T.A., was given the task to design a car around the V8 engine. The development took place in absolute secrecy. As not to stress the experimental department of Fiat, production of the chassis was also taken up by S.I.A.T.A. Styled by chief designer Fabio Luigi Rapi, the Fiat 8V or “Otto Vù” was presented to the Italian press in February 1952 and first exhibited the following March at the Geneva Motor Show. The car shapes saw several changes in time: the prototype used an art deco grill that extended into the hood. A second series was made featuring four headlights with some of the later cars having a full-width windscreen. A high-performance coupé, destined to compete in the GT class: the 2-liter 8V model was a departure from the usual Fiat production. It was really welcomed by Italian private drivers, it inspired the tuners and it was, in a word, the car to beat in the 2-liter class, also thanks to the special versions built by Zagato or Siata. The Fiat V8 had a 70° V configuration of 1996 cc of displacement, at 5600 rpm the engine produced 105 hp (78 kW) in standard form with double two-barrel Weber 36 DCS carburetors, giving a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph). Some engines were fitted with huge four-throat Weber 36 IF4/C carburetors offering 120 bhp, but the intake manifold was very rare. The Fiat 8V is the only eight-cylinder built by Fiat. The engine was connected to a four-speed gearbox. The car had independent suspension all round reworking the Fiat 1100 ones and drum brakes on four wheels. As the body was welded to the chassis it was a semi-unitary construction. Only 114 of these high-performance coupés had been produced, 63 with a “Fiat Carrozzerie Speciali” body, 34 first series and 29 second series. It was made available anyway in different body styles, offered by the factory and by various coachbuilders like Zagato, Pinin Farina, Ghia and Vignale. The production ceased in 1954.
Chassis no. 106*000032* was the 24th car in chronological order leaving the factory, on April 20, 1953, according to the expert Tony Adriaensens. It’s one of the 34 1st series and is still fitted with its original 1st series body by Carrozzerie Speciali Fiat, designed by Fabio Luigi Rapi. In this case, the car is not a "common" 1st series but has "Corsa" specifications (i.e. "racing", hence the name). It is part of a series of only three built for Scuderia Ambrosiana of Milano, in a total of four with these specifications that included: engine type 104.004 with double four-barrell IF 4C carburettors for 127 hp; 5-speed gearbox realized by the “speed wizard” Dagrada, lightweight body and sliding windows. It was delivered new to Ovidio Capelli, italian entrepreneur and racing driver, and immediately transferred to his Scuderia Ambrosiana racing team. A note: Chassis no. 106*000032* differs from its sister car, 106*000034*, by only two digits in the chassis number and by a single number in the (first) Milano plate; they both were “Born to run”, debuting five days after their delivery, at the XX Mille Miglia. The only visible difference, apart from the racing number, was a hood deflector on chassis no. 106*000034*. The car, with Franco Mosters at the wheel, ranked a very good 18th overall/6th in class, two positions before its sister car. On this occasion the car is also immortalized in a movie: “Mille Miglia 1953 - Un film Shell”. The car ran the Mille Miglia again the following year, but without success. It had, then, an intense racing career with excellent results, often ranking first positions in class. Especially since 1956, when the car began to be driven by an exceptional rookie: the great and late Lorenzo Bandini. The racing career in Italy ended at the end of the 1950s, when the car moved to the United States with Bill Brehaut (one of the founding members of Road & Track magazine). In US it was purchased by a very young Jerry Sullivan who took care to carry out an overhaul of the engine, proven in many races. Jerry used it (really!) to go to school every day and with it he enrolled in his first car race. The car continued to race successfully in the US into the early 1960s. We lose sight of the car which was found at the beginning of the 1980s in a shed, abandoned. It has been supposedly owned by enthusiasts ever since, and we find it on the roads of the Mille Miglia (re-enactment) from 2011 onwards, as well as showed in Concourses d’elegance. Today the car is fully restored (retaining its original engine) and part of an impressive collection in the USA. It is featured in various books, including Mille Miglia's Chassis - The Ultimate Opus Volume III, by Sandro Binelli, published by Automotive Masterpieces.