The Fiat 8V (know as the Otto Vu in its homeland) was an advanced design when it was first unveiled at the 1952 Geneva Motor Show. The Fiat 8V looked nothing like the Supersonic pictured above and below, which has a body coachbuilt by Ghia, but both cars share the same chassis and drivetrain.
Fiat named the new model after its engine – a 2 litre V8. They couldn’t use “V8” on the car officially because its was trademarked at the time by Ford, so in true Italian style they reversed the V and the 8, then went to lunch.
The 8V was co-developed by Fiat and Siata, with most of the work reportedly done by the latter. Siata were tuning and performance specialists that were Fiat’s de facto in-house competition and customisation department.
With an eye on competition potential, the new Otto Vu project was developed with independent front and rear suspension, and the then-advanced Tipo 104 V8 with an unusual 70° architecture. No expense was spared when developing the new V8 for racing, it was fitted with a finned aluminium sump, a forged crankshaft, and a ported and polished head.
Fiat offered this new platform to Italian coachbuilders, and quickly had Zagato, Balbo, Pinin Farina, Vignale, and Ghia working on new bodies for the new platform. Of all of them, the Ghia Supersonic is by far the most desirable. The Supersonic body was first designed to sit on a Fiat 1900 Mille Miglia racer – which was destroyed in a fire. The public reaction to the advanced jet age design was so overwhelming that Ghia chose to produce a limited production run, aimed squarely at the American market.
The shape of the Supersonic is credited to the legendary designer Giovanni Savonuzzi, the man who would later be hired by Chrysler to work on development of their turbine cars. He also penned the famous Cisitalia 202, the Ghia “Gilda”, and the Ferrari 410 Gilda Superamerica.
Ghia built 15 Supersonics on the Fiat 8V platform, as well as 3 built on Jaguar XK chassis, and 1 built on an Aston Martin DB2/4 chassis. Today each of the surviving Supersonics are highly sought after by collectors, the beautiful blue-green example you see here formerly belonged to American racing icon Lou Fageol and it went through a comprehensive 8 year restoration, which finished in 2015.
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Photo Credits: Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys