Determining a car’s make and model is usually a simple affair. There isn’t ambiguity; a Corvette is a Corvette and a Porsche 911 is a Porsche 911. But what if a vehicle blurred the lines?
So when I stumbled upon this 1962 Fiat 1600 S by Carrozzeria Fissore for the ClassicCars.com Pick of the Day, I had similar thoughts. Is it a Fiat? A Ferrari? A Maserati? (Click the link to view the listing)
Italian cars are cool because you could have a very pedestrian model but, thanks to a vibrant coachbuilder scene, one could have a vehicle that was on the leading edge of style that belied its more humble origins. In the case of this Fiat 1600 S, that was most certainly the case. Its origins can be found in the Fiat 1300/1500 that was produced from 1961-67. These sedans were quite American in their styling, though much smaller than typical American fare.
At the same time, the coupe and cabriolet versions were designed by Pininfarina and look nothing like their sedan cousins. There were 1200/1500 models, but the truly desirable models were the 1500/1600 models with the S suffix. The engines used for the S models were different than the pushrod Fiat engines, despite the similarity in their sizes. In fact, they were designed by O.S.C.A. (the company founded by the Maserati Brothers in 1947 after they left their namesake) and featured a twin-cam design and dual Webers, among other exotic hardware.
In the case of this particular example, it is one of a handful built in 1962-63 (reportedly one of 25) featuring Fissore bodywork. Inside and out, from its leather interior with nifty gray pattern, gauges and Nardi steering wheel to its handmade steel and alloy bodywork, split-window backlight and Borrani knock-off wheels, it screams Ferrari. Then there’s the engine designed by the same folks who made a name for Maserati. And, oh, that’s right, it’s a Fiat.
So what do you call it/he/they? A Fiat? Maserati? Ferrari? Color me confused! Yet this exotic, at $109,500, is a fraction of the price of typical exotic fare. Maybe it should be called a bargain?