There is no disputing the fact that the Mille Miglia is the most beautiful motor race in the world – always has been, always will be. The annual 1,000-mile road rally from Brescia down to Rome and back runs through the heart of Italy, both literally and metaphorically. And as anyone who has completed the event in its revived form will tell you, the Mille Miglia is a life-affirming experience that should be high on the bucket list of every keen classic car enthusiast.
A problem you might face, however, is selecting the perfect car with which to do it. Of course, rarity is of paramount importance – you don’t want to be driving ‘another Gullwing’ or be the last in a long queue of Jaguar XK120s, for example – but then so is comfort. The driving days on the Mille are long and often begin at the crack of dawn. We think this beautiful little Fiat, a Ballila 508S Berlinetta Aerodinamica MM from 1936, strikes the perfect balance… and throws in a healthy dose of Art Déco style. What’s more, it already has a confirmed entry to this year’s Mille Miglia, poised to take place later in the year than usual on 22–25 October owing to the coronavirus outbreak.
Resembling a baby Bugatti Atlantic, the competition-conceived 508S Berlinetta’s ornate teardrop body was the work of the famous designer Mario Rivelli de Beaumont, who studied in the laboratories of the University of Turin to hone its aerodynamic efficiency. Fiat’s own Carrozzeria Speciali constructed the bodies and clothed in the region of 11 508 chassis, which featured uprated 36HP engines, four-speed gearboxes and hydraulic brakes. The resulting car is commonly held as Italy’s first small displacement closed Grand Tourer.
Remarkably, the 74-year history of this particular Berlinetta Aerodinamica is entirely traceable, the car having remained in Italy its entire life. It benefits from a complete mechanical restoration, which was undertaken in 2018/2019, while the exterior and interior are wonderfully original and boast a charming patina. Naturally, it had corresponding certification from the ACI and FIVA, confirming its authenticity. And it’s this authenticity that the Mille Miglia organisers considered when granting its entry to this year’s event. So, if you want to be the only Fiat Ballila 508S Berlinetta Aerodinamica MM to cross the starting ramp in Brescia in October, here’s your chance.
Photos courtesy of Giro Classico SrlS © 2020