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|Fiat 8 V SUPERSONIC|
Autosport Designs Inc.
Lotus Motorcars of Long Island
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|--Burgundy with Tan leather interior piped Burgundy, Tan carpeting, 17,000 miles from new, 4-speed manual, 2011 Pebble Beach Preservation Award – First in Class, Formerly the Property of Paul Farago, Designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi, Coachwork by Ghia, The First of 15 8V Supersonics, Exceptional Provenance and Unblemished History, Only One Owner for Over 55 Years, Beautifully Preserved. |
The Fiat 8V Supersonic…
The Supersonic was one of Ghia’s most famous designs. The large car companies in the US were prime targets for the fledgling Italian coachbuilders. In 1950, impressed with their designs and skilled craftsmanship, the head of Chrysler’s design department, Virgil Exner, approached Ghia. Over the next few years, a relationship between the two companies flourished. Around that time, Fiat debuted the 8V chassis and Elio Zagato proved that custom coachwork could be successfully applied to the new, upscale sports car. Soon afterward, several prominent Italian carrozzerie began approaching Fiat management with proposals for limited-production, custom-made 8Vs.
Luigi Serge, the Commercial Director of Ghia, had an exciting new idea for the Fiat 8V that was based on a prototype sports-racing car created by Giovanni Savonuzzi, the coachbuilder’s newly appointed Technical Director. For the Fiat 8V, Savonuzzi created a cutting- edge two-door coupe based on his previous experiments. In both concept and detail, it abandoned traditional coachbuilding influence and looked toward contemporary trends in aerospace, a familiar field for the designer. Referred to as “the Supersonic,” the two-seat sports car featured stylized, streamlined forms, subtle tail fins, a delicate use of brightwork and a taut, swept-back roofline. Despite its radical figure and unusual features, the result was perfectly balanced and undeniably graceful. Even sitting still, the Supersonic would evoke speed, power and progress.
In Fall 1953, Luigi Serge traveled to Detroit to meet with Chrysler executives. He presented Exner with pictures of the latest Savonuzzi design and told him of their plan to produce a limited series of cars that would put this fabulous bodywork on Fiat’s 8V chassis. According to reports, Exner was excited about the prospect.
Also present at the meeting was a gentleman by the name of Paul Farago, a designer and engineer who was very much involved in Chrysler’s styling department and later, the development of the Dual-Ghia cars.
Although he operated independently, Mr. Farago was a friend and advisor to Virgil Exner, worked closely with Gigi Serge as a liaison between Ghia and Detroit automakers.
When Mr. Farago first learned of the proposal, he too agreed that a “marriage” of this futuristic coachwork to the all-new Fiat chassis would be a perfect match. Most of the Italian-American concept cars had been created for show and display purposes only, whereas the Supersonic would be a fully functional, high-performance sports car that was unlike anything else on the road.
With full support from Exner, Paul Farago placed the first order for a Ghia-bodied Fiat 8V Supersonic. It is his car that we have the great honor of presenting here today.
The story of this extraordinary Italian sports car begins on May 8, 1953, when a bare 8V chassis was shipped from the Fiat factory to Carrozzeria Ghia. Upon arrival, the necessary steps were taken to transform the rolling chassis into the first Supersonic.
As the first of 15 examples completed, this car features a number of distinct differences from those that followed, especially with regards to materials, trim and detailing. In typical Italian fashion, the first 8V Supersonic succeeds in combining the height of contemporary style with the classical tradition of understated elegance. After leaving Ghia’s workshop, the Supersonic remained in continental Europe for some time, leading some to believe that it was used as a display at the season’s various European auto shows. Two photographs dating from 1953 confirm that the bodywork was not initially fitted with its tubular bumpers, but acquired at some time prior to 1955. Apparently, these early photographs were reproduced for publicity purposes and given to potential customers at the 1953 Paris Auto Show.
When the Supersonic arrived in the US, Mr. Farago was there to collect his new car and, when the time came for its long-anticipated Motor City debut, he was there to welcome a swarm of admirers. For many American enthusiasts, it was not only the first glimpse of the new Savonuzzi design, it was their first chance to see the new Fiat sports car, with its jewel-like V-8 engine and fully independent suspension.
In the months following its arrival, the show- stopping Supersonic was featured in several automotive publications including All the World’s Cars, 1954 Cars and Motor Trend. The Ghia- bodied wonder also spent some time in Chrysler’s design department, where Virgil Exner and his team of stylists examined the groundbreaking new Fiat.
It was also around then that Paul Lazaros first became involved with the history of this remarkable car.
During the early 1950s, Mr. Lazaros worked for Paul Farago as an engineer and machinist. With a background in automobiles and a keen eye for design, it is understandable that he would be attracted to the bespoke Italian sports car. In 1955, after admiring the car for some time, Mr. Lazaros struck a deal with Mr. Farago purchasing the car that he would own until January 2011 when it was sold to only its third owner a noted NY collector!
Throughout the 1950s, Mr. Lazaros displayed the Supersonic at a number of local meets, receiving great fanfare and many Best of Show honors.
After many years driving and showing the Supersonic, Mr. Lazaros retired the car from regular use and stored it in his garage. Other than short drives around the neighborhood, the 8V had all but disappeared from the public eye and its existence has been known to only a select few.
It is safe to say the Supersonic has led an unusually protected and secluded life during the 55 years in Mr. Lazaros’ care.
The paint appears to be 80% original and possesses a lovely uniform appearance showing only the wonderful visual traces that come with decades of continuous use and interaction with its long-term caretaker.
The Supersonic is, quite literally, original down to the wheels and tires. The Borrani knock-offs still wear the factory-installed Pirelli Cinturato tires and the unique polished wheel discs are the only set that is known to have survived intact.
The cockpit is just as complete and original as the exterior and remains in fine order throughout. The leather upholstery wears its age beautifully and has a wonderfully inviting feel. In addition, the carpets, headliner, rubber and hardware have a consistent patina. Almost every component of the car, from the Securit glass to the Marchal lamps, was fitted at the factory and remains undisturbed.
The engine bay is largely untouched and its tidy appearance is consistent with the low mileage. The instantly recognizable V-8 engine is the original, matching-numbers unit and is topped with twin Weber DCZ3 carburetors (serial numbers 131and 132) as well as a unique air-intake system. Elsewhere, one finds the factory-delivered data plates, Marelli equipment, original fasteners and correct factory finishes.
Another interesting feature of this marvelous Fiat is a decal affixed to the windscreen that displays the crest of Racing Club 19. Founded in 1947 by a team of Italian drivers, Racing Club 19 is known for campaigning sports and racing cars, 8Vs included, in major European events throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. While this car does not have a competition record, its first owner, Paul Farago, was a member of the racing team and proudly affixed the insignia to his new Italian sports car.
As would be expected of such a well-kept automobile, all the important accessories are present, including the original key and spare tire, as well as the tool kit and jack stowed in the factory-delivered canvas pouches.
Recently serviced by Autosport Designs, Inc., this 8V Supersonic has recently taken part in the Pebble Beach Tour prior to taking to the lawn to take 1st in class in the 2011 Preservation Class. It is hard to imagine a better automobile with special coachwork and one that will be a welcomed addition to the conour lawn as well as a varity of exclusive classic tours and rallies while still having a superb investment potential.
Sold on the 20.12.2012
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