Rare Fiat 8V Vignale Coupe featured at Gooding auction

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The 1953 Fiat 8V Coupe at Gooding was styled by coachbuilder Vignale | Gooding & Company
The 1953 Fiat 8V Coupe at Gooding was styled by coachbuilder Vignale | Gooding & Company
The 1953 Fiat 8V Coupe at Gooding was styled by coachbuilder Vignale | Gooding & Company

One of the stars of the 1952 Geneva Motor Show was something new and innovative from Fiat, the 8V Coupe, a car that boasted the Italian automaker’s first eight-cylinder engine combined with an advanced-design body and chassis.

Named the 8V, or Otto Vu in Italian – Ford already had dibs and a copyright on the term V8 – the exotic new Fiat soon made its presence known on European race tracks and succeeded in launching the mass-market automaker into the upper echelon of Italian specialty cars.

Just 114 of the 8V Coupes were produced, with 34 of them styled with bodies created by such famed Italian coachbuilders such as Zagato, Pinninfarina, Ghia and Vignale.

One of those coachbuilt 8Vs, a streamlined 1953 coupe styled by Vignale, will be offered by Gooding & Company at its Amelia Island auction in March. Vignale built handmade bodies for nine of the 34 special-bodied 8V Coupes, and the one offered for sale is in gleaming two-tone blue that shows off the designer’s signature look, which carries into the dashboard and interior.

The 8V engine remains the heart of the Fiat coupe. The jewel-like 2-liter engine was designed in aluminum alloy by Fiat engineer Dante Giacosa with a narrow 70-degree V configuration to provide more power from a compact, lightweight package. The engine was originally intended for Fiat production vehicles, but it never made it beyond competition and specialty sports cars.

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The engine was rated at 110 horsepower in standard form, and it was competitive in racing trim, providing Fiat with many successes in the 2-liter class.

Gooding puts the rare Fiat’s estimated value at $1.6 million to $2 million for the auction, scheduled for March 13 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation on Amelia Island, Florida, during the classic car weekend that culminates in the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on March 15.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.