Fiat had launched the 2100 station wagon aimed at the U.S. market in the 1950s, but it wasn't a successful sale either in the U.S. or Europe. Instead Ghia took the 2100 platform and transformed it into the 2300 design. One of the most rare ‘niche' Fiat models, the 2300/2300S Coupé was introduced in 1961 and was produced until 1969. First launched at the 1960 Turin Motor Show by Ghia, the 2300 was introduced originally as a prototype sports coupé. Going on sale in 1962, the production version, based on the newly introduced Fiat 2300 sedan, was first shown in 1961. Renowned Pininfarina designed the 2300 Saloon while Sergio Sartorelli manager of Ghia's Design division designed the Coupe.
Riding on 104.3-inch wheelbase, the 2300 replaced the Fiat 2100. With a curb weight of 2,833 pounds, the 2300 measured 176.6 inches in length, 63.8 inches in width and had a height of 57.9 inches. The 2300 Saloon became the first Fiat to be available with a fully automatic gearbox that replaced the Saxomat clutch as an optional extra in 1966. Four-speed all-synchromesh gearboxes were used in all 2300S coupés and most 2300s models.
Ghia developed the coupé body, but he lacked the production capacity for the volume he hoped for so he had no choice but to subcontract the production to OSI. Sharing its core components with the 2300 saloon, the coupé body was welded to the standard floor platform of the saloon. They shared the same wheelbase, but the saloon had a shorter track than the saloon. The final drive gearing for the coupé was bumped up to 3.9, which resulted in 20.9 mph per 1,000 rpm.
The 2300 has often been nicknamed the ‘poor man's Ferrari' as it embodied true ‘Grand Touring' style and grace and performance combined with the powerful induction road and exhaust sound. The interior of the 2300 featured four full–size seats and large doors and plenty of luxurious extras like power windows, a cable-operated 'hand throttle' and a passenger foot-brace and opening body vents to keep your feet cool. The aerated vinyl seats were composed of upholstery on chromed metal frames instead of factory-option leather. A Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel was prominently displayed like typical Ferrari's of the era.
The dashboard had a full array of Veglia instruments and plenty of bells and whistles like an alarm bell that alerted the driver if any of the warning lights go on above 2500 rpm. The alarm monitored the oil pressure, water-temperature, handbrake and choke warning lights. The windscreen wipers could be activated by the panel switch or via a floor switch incorporated in a foot-pump that activated the screen-wash. There were two horns, one air horn for regular motoring and one ‘beep-beep' horn for after 10pm when towns of Italy banned the use of air-horns.
Powering the Fiat 2300 was a powerful 2,279 cc OHV inline-six engine that produced 136 hp and capable of achieving 120 mph. Carlo Abarth tweaked Lamredi's design by adding a second twin-draft Weber carburetor and a ‘hotter' camshaft, which boosted the engine production from 105 bhp up to an impressive 136 bhp. Twin-carbs were featured on the 'S' version. The spunky little Fiat featured power assisted brake discs for all four wheels combined with twin servos that apply the power to stopping.
In 1965 the second generation of the Fiat 2300 arrived with a few visual upgrades and improved equipment. The performance now was 130 hp and modifications included new side moldings and louvres and hubcaps. The interior featured more chrome in the door cutouts, red warning lights in the door front sides, dashboard wood and artificial leather seating instead of fabric.
The Fiat 2300 had a top speed around 120 mph and could achieve 0-60mph in about 10 seconds. It had an estimated 20-23 miles per gallon consumption. Production ended in June of 1968 and an estimated 7,200 models were produced with around 70 of these going to the United Kingdom. In the early 1960's one could purchase one of these models for around $4,882.Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson