Monterey

13-15 August 2015

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Lot 346

1954 Fiat 8V Coupe by Vignale

  • Chassis no. 000047
  • Engine no. 000090

$1,100,000 - $1,400,000


115 bhp, 1,996 cc OHV V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent coil-spring suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

  • Fiat’s 1950s “supercar”; stunning Vignale coachwork
  • Displayed at the VII Concorso d’Eleganza di Roma in 1954
  • One of the few surviving 8Vs with its original engine


Of all the famed Italian automakers, Fiat is not normally recognized as a builder of lavish, coachbuilt grand touring cars. The Italian automaker’s first engines were four-cylinder units, often of gargantuan proportions. Fiat produced its first six-cylinder engine in 1907 and even a V-12 from 1921 to 1922. However, it was not until 1952 that Fiat would produce an engine with eight cylinders, and the chassis and bodies it resided in were just as special as the engine.

This 8V model, or Otto Vu in Italian, was built for two years only, in 114 examples, and it remains one of the marque’s most legendary motor cars to this day. It was the star of the Geneva Salon in March 1952, and it goes without saying that this new Fiat got lots of attention from the motoring press. Road & Track called it “the biggest surprise of the year,” and The Motor remarked that “the last thing which had been expected from Italy’s largest car factory was a truly streamlined 2-seater saloon.” With its potent new powerplant, which was clothed by bodies designed by the world’s finest coachbuilders, everyone knew that this was truly a special automobile in every sense of the word.

CHASSIS NUMBER 000047

The distinctively handsome Vignale-bodied Coupe shown here, chassis number 000047, was originally exported to Turin on June 11, 1953, finished in green. The design is distinguished by its flared rear fenders, forming finned flying buttresses on either side of the deck lid and inset rear window; a distinctive oval radiator opening flanked by chrome “bumperettes” (echoed in the rear) and carrying a simple egg-crate insert; and delicate chrome trim around the doorsills and windows. Features of the car, including the round headlights and the design of the front fenders, are echoed in other Vignale designs of the period, including OSCAs and Ferrari 375 Americas. Low windows and a high beltline exaggerate the power and personality of the lines. The interior is understated, with pleated leather bucket seats facing a dashboard with a full complement of simple round Veglia gauges.

Displayed at the VII Concorso d’Eleganza di Roma on June 12–13, 1954, the car was then delivered to its original owner, Alberto Carfomella, of Alessandria. It was first registered as AL 40085 on July 9, 1954, and was later re-registered in Perugia as PG 30151.

Further records indicate that the car was exported to the United States from Genoa in 1957, by which time it had already been refinished in a darker green than the original hue. From that point, its history is not known until the late 1980s, when it was purchased by the Blackhawk Collection in Southern California. Don Williams recalls the car as “a nice, well-preserved car, that was ‘pure’ then and still is. It was restored by Mike Fennel, which was really just a matter of going through the car and restoring its paint, interior, and mechanical components, as so much of it was still in good condition.”

The car was refinished in red over a tan leather interior as part of the restoration, which was completed in 1990. Two years later, it was acquired by the present owner, in whose European collection it has remained for over two decades. Well preserved, the car is noteworthy for still having its original engine, as is documented in historian Tony Adriaensens’s book, Otto Vu. Most 8Vs were used rather hard by their original owners, resulting in the loss of the original engine, but this example’s state of preservation prior to the restoration meant that its engine was as preserved as the rest of the car.

As one of very few 8Vs still with their original engine, and with a striking and attractive muscular design, this is among the most exciting surviving examples of the world-famous Otto Vu, an Italian “supercar” of the Jet Age.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 212 894 1981
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more