The Fiat 8V is the only V8 car ever built by Fiat, it was launched in the early 1950s as an answer to the elegant V8 GT cars coming out of the United States – Fiat chose the name 8V because they believed that Ford had trademarked the term “V8”.
Unlike the typically large capacity V8s from America the 8V has a swept capacity of just 1,996cc, this was to appeal to more European tastes and to better fit into the post-WWII era of austerity. The 70º V8 has a traditional architecture with two pushrod actuated valves per cylinder, a cross-flow head design with two carburettors mounted within the “V” and exhaust exiting out the sides.
In order to give the car genuine performance ability the engine was fitted with a finned aluminum sump for better cooling, a forged crankshaft, polished intakes and ports for less turbulent gas flow, and tubular stainless-steel exhaust manifolds on either side that feed into a sports exhaust with twin pipes exiting at the rear.
Despite its relatively simple design the Fiat 8V proved reliable and ideal for motorsport, it powered cars to wins in the Italian 2 litre GT championship every year until 1959. Over the course of the short 1952 to 1954 production run the engine was upgraded to produce more power, it started at 104 hp in 1952, moving up to 113 hp and finally to 125 hp thanks to revised camshafts, an increased compression ratio, and the addition of a carburettor bringing it up to three.
As was commonplace in the 1950s the Fiat 8V uses a body-on-chassis design, though unusually for the era it has independent suspension with coil springs front and back. The use of a seperate chassis allowed for independent coachbuilders to design their own bodies for the 8V, and many of the 114 examples of the model had bodies built by outside firms including Zagato, Ghia, and Vignale.
The rarity and avant-garde design of the various 8Vs have ensured they enjoy significant fame in the classic car world. One of the most famous is the car you see here, the Fiat 8V by Vignale that was styled after a show car designed by Giovanni Michelotti called “Demon Rouge” or “Red Demon”.
Some of the more outlandish design elements of the original show car where reworked by Michelotti for the 8V, but the sleek, advanced design translated well. Michelotti had paid very close attention to the vehicle’s aerodynamics, creating a shape that looks almost like a wingless aircraft when viewed from the side. The hand-formed body panels work together to create a sweeping curve from the front of the car to the back, aerodynamic turbulence is minimised and even the headlights are moved within the grille.
The Michelotti Fiat 8V by Vignale you see here is a 1954 model, the final year of production. It was originally sold to an owner in Italy before making its way elsewhere in Europe, it was restored a number of years ago and given a Demon Rouge paint scheme, before making its way to the United States where it currently resides in a collection.
If you’d like to read more about this 8V or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on RM Sotheby’s. It’s due to be offered without reserve as part of the Elkhart Collection.
Images: ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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