Perhaps the most desirable Fiat ever built, the 8V was styled by several of Italy’s most famous design houses and boasted a competition record that continued for several years past the model’s 1952-’55 production dates. Today, most Fiat “Otto Vu” models are worth upwards of $1 million. We’re not betting folk, but if we were, we’d bet $1 million that Fiat will never make a car like the 1955 Fiat 8V again.
Launched at the 1952 Geneva motor show, the 8V’s name came from the car’s jewel-like ‘Tipo 104’ powerplant, a 2.0-liter 70-degree, eight-cylinder vee-layout engine that produced somewhere between 105 and 125 horsepower depending on compression ratio and camshaft profile. With four-wheel independent suspension, a four-speed manual gearbox, and hydraulic drum brakes all around, the Fiat 8V was very much at the forefront of the day’s technology (even Ferrari was using drum brakes exclusively in ’52). Most of all, the 8V was a dramatic departure from Fiat’s typical economy transportation, like the contemporary 13-hp Topolino.
The Fiat 8V project was led by Fiat’s illustrious engineer Dante Giocosa, who worked for Fiat from 1937 until 1970 and the first coachwork design was done in-house by Luigi Rapi. Rapi’s design would body some 34 8Vs, and later, design houses took their own cracks at putting a body on the Siata-built 8V chassis. Zagato bodied another 36, Ghia bodied up to 40, and Vignale took on most of the remaining cars, for a total of 115 built. Of these, the Zagato alloy bodied cars were said to be lightest and most aerodynamic, making them suitable for racing. Interestingly enough, most were slightly different in their design as well, with individual owner-racers able to order them to their unique specifications and design flourishes. The Fiat 8V won the 2.0-liter Italian Sports Car Championship for five years running between 1954 and ’59.
Sadly, by the start of 1955 Fiat’s bean-counters decided that the way forward for the Fiat brand was to continue making volume-production economy models and engineer Giacosa would launch the ubiquitous Fiat 500 in 1955, a two-door, four-seat subcompact car that helped keep post-war Italy mobile in the mid-20th century.
Want one of your very own? RM Sotheby’s is selling the pictured 1955 Fiat 8V Zagato at its Villa d’Este auction on May 25, 2019. Just be prepared to pay up for the privilege. RM Sotheby’s has an estimate of approximately $1,800,000 to 2,000,000 on the car. The auction house previously sold Ghia-bodied versions for $1,375,000 at Amelia Island in 2017 and $946,000 in Scottsale, Arizona, in 2014. Should the Zagato-bodied Fiat 8V reach the $2 million mark, it could set a new world record for the brand at auction.