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1935 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.
This Sport Spider, chassis No. 508S083476, is a car with a long history and dramatic evolution. It started its career in 1936 racing with its Treviso plate, showing a “fixed head” Mille Miglia Berlinetta bodywork. But, in 1937 the car appeared already with a new Sport Spider shape. Although at first glance identical to the Coppa d’Oro version, it has many distinguishing details. Mostly evident: the more pronounced inclination of the nose, towards the windscreen and with a thicker and more evident connection under the radiator grille. The car had a very long competitive life: the first years before the war with Giuseppe Berti, racing the 1936 and 1937 Mille Miglia, among other events; then, between the end of the 50s and the early 70s with Renato Verzier and, more recently, in the Mille Miglia re-enactments and regularity championship, with Roberto and Andrea Vesco.