Chassis Num: 106.000022
Engine Num: 104.000.000043
Sold for $1,127,500 at 2011 Gooding & Company
Confusion and distraction surrounded Fiat during the mid-1950s. This would cause the company to flounder and become rather aimless. Unfortunately, one of its newest sports cars would suffer as a result.
Fiat was consumed with its regular production lines when Dante Giacosa and Fabio Lucio Rapi would collaborate to build an all-new sports car. Confusion would come to hinder the naming of the new car. It was believed Ford had trademarked 'V8'. Unfortunately, the new car would utilize a V8 engine that had originally been used in a luxury sedan. The confusion about the trademark issue would cause the heads of the project to have to rethink what they were going to call the new car. Instead of something artistic or descriptive of the car's design, it was thought it would be just as simple to move things around. Therefore, in 1952, Fiat would give birth to its 'Otto Vu', or, 8V.
The confusion and aimlessness at Fiat at the time would end up translating into sales of the car. Although the car would become quite popular and very successful in sports car racing, for the private customer looking for a sports car to be seen driving around town in, many just couldn't quite figure the car out either. The same sense of aimlessness and uncertainty would fog peoples' minds about the car and would lead to them being passed over.
Although many customers just couldn't quite wrap their hearts around the car to embrace it, those taking part in sports car racing would whole-heartedly embrace the car and would be glad they did. Even though general sales of the car were very slim, its success on the race track would be anything but. In fact, a Fiat 8V would go on to win the Italian 2-liter GT Championship just about every year during the 1950s.
The success on the circuit was due to the chassis underneath the questionable body-styling. The car would come with a 2.0-liter 70 degree V8. Combined with dual Weber carburetors the engine could produce 110 hp. Originally, the car would come with a four-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel independent wishbone suspension with coil springs and shock absorbers, which was a rather rare arrangement at the time.
Even though the Fiat 8V would be a regular sight at the race track it would still be even more rare to see one driving around the city streets. Rarer still would it be to see a Fiat 8V with a Zagato body style, but at this year's Gooding & Company auction at Pebble Beach just such a rare Zagato Fiat 8V would cross the block.
Zagato had been very much involved in the Fiat 8V. The coachbuilder looked forward to the opportunity of building a new body for the 2.0-liter category. However, Zagato wanted to try and do some very special things with this design and it would end up incorporating many advanced techniques that would slow the process down.
One of the design elements Zagato would purposely create to provide extra strength but that would become a design icon would be the double-bubble top. Not only did this provide extra head room, it also helped to increase strength to the roof.
The double-bubble roof would become one of the signature elements of Zagato's Elaborata design. The Elaborata was a more sporting 8V but without the loss of interior comfort. Therefore, the car would include a lowered roof, new windscreens and a single headlight arrangement. Zagato would go on to create just five of these special Elaboratas and each one would feature different custom aspects to them. Therefore, every single one of the five Fiat 8V Zagato Elaboratas would be unique.
In spite of Zagato's work, and unique series of Zagato Elaborata chassis, the car still wouldn't fare all that well. However, it would still be well received in racing circles.
This particular chassis had first been sold with Rapi coachwork and was delivered to its owner in April of 1953. This car would then be sent to Zagato in order to have it re-made into one of the five 8V Zagato Elaboratas. The bubble roof, lighter-weight bumpers and Plexiglas side windows would all go on to the new car.
The car would go on to be finished and would be entered in the VI Coppa Internazionale delle Dame. The race was open to female drivers and would be piloted by Scuderia Ferrari driver Anna Maria Peduzzi. Peduzzi had won the event almost every year since 1951 and would end up earning a fine second place result in the Elaborata.
The car would continue to take part in a number of other races throughout its early career and wouldn't take part in its last race until 1958. At the time, M. Arifon was the car's owner. After the event, not much would be known about the car until it would be rediscovered in 1972.
The car would become the property of Paul Berson. During his ownership the car would come to be featured on the 1998 cover of Auto Passion sporting its red overall finish with white stripe down the center of the car.
In 1998, the car would come to be purchased by its current owner and would be sent to Tillack & Co. for a comprehensive, frame-off restoration. The restoration would take a number of years. During the restoration process the nose of the car would be modified to a much more typical Elaborata appearance. Therefore, the wider grille would be replaced and the Zagato body refinished in Zagato Green. Although the finish is a departure from its time used as a racing sports car it is widely believed the green finish may have actually been its original color. The only other modification done to the car would include the installing of a five-speed gearbox. However, the four-speed remains with the car and would be part of the sale.
After more than three years, the Elaborata would make an appearance at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and would end up earning a Second in Class result. However, such a car as this could not just sit around at some concours event. It was meant to be driven. Therefore, the car would take part in a number of rally and tour events and is even the famous Mille Miglia Storica.
Even though the car was birthed at a time when Fiat was not all that interested in the sports car market and would suffer from its rather aimless beginnings; in its later years, the car's value would become realized. The rare Zagato-bodied Fiat 8Vs would certainly become appreciated for what they had to offer. And at this year's auction, the uniquely blended sports car with its creative aesthetics would end up being appreciated with a final sale price of $1,127,500.Sources:
'Lot No. 127: 1953 Fiat 8V Elaborata', (http://www.goodingco.com/car/1954-fiat-8v-zagato-elaborata). Gooding & Company. http://www.goodingco.com/car/1954-fiat-8v-zagato-elaborata. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Fiat 8V', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 May 2011, 08:01 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fiat_8V&oldid=429847430 accessed 24 August 2011By Jeremy McMullen
The Fiat 8V, also known as 'Ottu Vu' in Italian, was first shown to the public at the 1952 Geneva Motor Show. Production lasted from 1952 through 1954 with a total of 114 examples being produced. The car was powered by a V8 engine, and since Fiat thought that Ford held the trademark for 'V8', they dubbed their vehicle the 8V. The design was courtesy of Dante Giacosa and stylist Fabio Lucio Rapi.
Of the 114 examples produced, many were unique. They had been designed for competition, specifically the two-liter class in the Italian Championship. The 2.0-liter V8 engines were fed through two Weber 36 DCF3 Carburetors and produced 105-115 horsepower, depending on configuration. There was a four-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel drum brakes, with an independent suspension comprised of coil springs, telescopic shocks, stabilizer bar and transverse wishbones. The lightweight bodies, especially those from Zagato, were mounted on a traditional tubular steel frame. The factory bodies had two large headlights in the grill with two small lights in the fenders. There was a second series of the bodies, which had changes to comply with GT regulations. These changes resulted in four headlights in the fender.
The Fiat 8Vs did well in competition, especially those created by Zagato. The bodies were lightweight and the engines were highly tuned. In 1954, the Fiat 8V won the Championship and cemented these cars potential in history.
Of the 114 examples produced, 34 had coachwork by Carozzeria Speciale FIAT. Carrozzeria Zagato produced bodies for 32, which were known as 'Elaborata Zagato.' The rest of the bodies, which were mostly coupes with a few spyders, were created by Ghia and Vignale.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009