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1934 Fiat 508 S Balilla Sport
Why am I an Automotive Masterpiece?
Introduced in 1932, the 508 Balilla became immediately the car which motorized the Italians, thanks to its low purchase cost and easy maintenance of its 4-cylinder 995 cc. engine. The 508 S Balilla Sport competition version was inspired by an original design by Carrozzeria Ghia. The first cars were built based on the Fiat 508 Spyder, suitably modified as "tipo corsa" (type race) and still show the chassis numbers without the letter S. In 1933 Fiat introduced the sporting version 508 S Balilla Sport, characterized by a lighter, very nice and pleasant body, which soon became one of the cars to dream for the younger generation. FIAT purchased the rights by Ghia, manufacturing two versions: the standard version “Coppa d’Oro” had fully enclosed fenders while the “Mille Miglia” used smaller cycle fenders and a lighter chassis. The engine was also uprated to 43 bhp over the version standard 36 bhp. The first model won the Coppa d’Oro del Littorio, which earned it the nickname “Coppa d’Oro”, the second model won the 1933 Mille Miglia in the up to 1100 cc Utility Class. Clothed in stylish open two-seater bodywork with distinctive finned tail, the early "Spider Sport" models came with the same crash gearbox as the other cars, but the engine was fed by a special carburetor, which with its raised compression ratio of 7:1 gave rise to a maximum output listed as 30 hp (22 kW) at 4,000 rpm. Introduced in 1934, the 508CS second series improved on this successful formula, adopting a four-speed synchromesh gearbox and an overhead-valve engine producing 46bhp. The final drive ratio was also altered, and top speed went up to 110 km/h (69 mph). Siata produced at the time accessories and uprated parts, making it probably one of the earliest car tuners.
Fiat 508CS Balilla Coppa d'Oro with chassis no. 508S043481 took part in the Mille Miglia in 1935 with race number 12 and was driven by Umberto Vernassa (owner) and his co-driver Carlo di Vecchio. Sadly, the Balilla withdrawn before the finish. At a certain moment after the race the body shape of the car was heavily modified. The stories of racing cars are studded with frequent changes for the most varied reasons; modifications are typically made to increase competitiveness, lighten, improve aerodynamics, etc. But just as often the changes follow damage, more or less serious, which the car suffers in the race. This modified shape on the Fiat 508 S, chassis no. 508S043481, is the work of an unknown builder undertaken for an unknown reason.