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There Are Many Fantastic Looking Cars, But the 1953 Fiat 8V Berlinetta May Top the List
The Fiat 8V was released in 1952 at the Geneva Auto Show and it was a startling bit of work from the Italians.

There Are Many Fantastic Looking Cars, But the 1953 Fiat 8V Berlinetta May Top the List

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Until that time, Fiat had been known for producing inexpensive vehicles in large numbers. But the 8V was a radical departure for the company as it featured an amazing engine and ultimately all 8V bodies were coach-built and thus each unique in style.

The body style was, somewhat ironically, credited to Luigi Rapi who had also designed the considerably more pedestrian Fiat Topolino 750 MM.

The Fiat 8V was powered by a 1996cc engine designed by Dante Giacosa. The unit was constructed of aluminum alloy and was designed to support high-revs and produce a steep power curve. In the standard configuration, the 8V produced 168 hp, but a more powerful version offered 185 hp. The most powerful unit - which featured four-throat Weber carburetors - produced 193 hp and it was extremely rare.

With an all-independent suspension taken from the Fiat 1100, a top speed of almost 200 kp/h (125 mph), and ultra-lightweight bodywork, the Fiat 8V provided stiff competition for entrants in the two-liter classes. In fact, the 8V took the Italian GT Championship in 1954.

Only 114 examples of the Fiat 8V were made in an abbreviated production run that lasted but two years. Fiat executives returned their focus to cars that could be built in higher volumes such as the Fiat 600 and the Topolino 500.

Despite their beauty and the company’s original intent to market them as ‘luxury touring’ cars, the 8Vs sporting nature and configuration made them favorites among the privateer racing set. A considerable number of the 8V models went into motorsport campaigns from hill climbs to road races.

The grey 8V shown here was made for delivery to its first owner in Milan, Italy, but the car wasn't registered in Italy and was immediately exported to its next owner in Gentilino, Switzerland. The distinctive shape of the grille on this example was adjusted with handmade modifications to allow a greater flow of air into the engine. This Fiat was entered into motorsport events without delay, and in the 1956 running of the Grand Prix Suisse de la Montagne Ollon-Villars Course Internationale de Côte  hill climb, the car finished second in the 1.6 to 2.0-liter category. 

This 1953 Fiat 8V Berlinetta underwent a complete body-off and nut-and-bolt restoration by Gabriele Artom of Italy. The work began in November 2011 and was completed 2014. The unique coachwork of this beauty was removed and blasted back to metal, then repainted to match the correct 'Grigio Rosato' exterior color. The engine was removed, completely rebuilt and the seats were recovered in an original red leather. The alloy wheels were also refinished in chrome. And as part of the process the restorers retained the originality of the car and it retains its numbers-matching engine per the Fiat 8V registry.

In 2014, this restored Fiat appeared at that year’s Concourso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este where it was presented on the red carpet. While this Fiat is eligible for historic events for collector cars, it may prove more prudent to save its efforts for gentler driving and Concours appearances as its value should fall in the realm of $17.5 million USD.

As for other versions of the 8V, Ghia designed and produced a limited run of the cars named 'Supersonic' and those featured 'jet age' inspired coachwork. Several of those cars were purchased by Americans and were heavily customized, work which sometimes included engine transplants.

What is certain is that the 1953 Fiat 8V Berlinetta represents a benchmark in automotive design and is, to this very day, one of the most beautiful cars ever built.



Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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