The Fiat 1200 Wonderful has the first known post-WWII example of what would come to be known as the “targa” top, so named by Porsche in the 1960s. The roof of the 1200 Wonderful was designed to be removed and placed in the trunk, giving the occupants wind-in-the-hair motoring without the potential headache of folding down a manual convertible top.
The 1200 Wonderful was penned by Giovanni Michelotti of Vignale in the late 1950s. The car uses Fiat 1200 running gear – the 1200 was a popular car in Italy in the late 1950s and into the 1960s that was offered in a variety of sub-models including both four door and sporting two door versions. The 1200 was based on the Fiat 1100 with a number of improvements, including the slightly larger engine offering more power.
The Fiat 1200 was powered by a 1,221cc inline four cylinder engine available in a number of versions allowing between 40 and 53 hp. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission through a live axle that sits on leaf springs and telescopic shock absorbers. Front suspension is independent with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and it has a front anti-roll bar. Braking is achieved courtesy of drums on all four corners and gears are changed via a column shift.
Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti was one of the most prolific automobile designers of the 20th century, he styled a slew of critically important early Ferraris as well as Maseratis, Lancias, Alfa Romeos, Triumphs, Alpines, a number of Leyland trucks and he designed the BMW 2002.
Michelotti designed the Fiat 1200 Wonderful in 1957 for legendary Italian coachbuilder Vignale. The car is a remarkable encapsulation of 1950s automobile design in general and 1950s automobile design in particular. It has a deeply sloped windshield that hints at its sporting intent, with generous chrome trim used across the body, twin rear fins that terminate in tail lights, and an elegant front end capped off with an off-set hood scoop to feed the twin carburettors.
The removable “targa” roof was an unusual design choice for the era but it makes perfect sense when you consider the purpose of the 1200 Wonderful – it’s a sports car designed for weekend jaunts into the countryside, it even has rear seats for additional passengers and some trunk space.
It’s believed that just 5 or so examples of the Fiat 1200 Wonderful were built with one additional show car, they’re an exceedingly rare sight and we seldom see them come up for sale.
The car you see here is a 1958 Fiat 1200 Wonderful (chassis number 388137) was given a comprehensive nut-and-bolt restoration which was completed in 2018. It’s finished with a blue leather interior, an immaculate engine bay and underbody, good panel fitment, and gleaming chrome work.
The car is still fitted with its original matching-numbers engine with its dual carburetors – an unusual sight on a Fiat 1200. Since the completion of its restoration the car has been shown only in the UK at the 2018 Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace. It’s not yet been shown in the USA and it’s accompanied by a historical file and restoration documentation, including receipts.
If you’d like to read more about this car or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on RM Sotheby’s.
Images: ©2020 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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