Hans Compter, Kauri, New Zealand (acquired circa 2001)
Manfred Lindner, Spittal an der Drau, Austria (acquired from the above circa 2007)
Masahiro Inoue, Honolulu, Hawaii (acquired from the above circa 2010)
Current Owner (acquired from the estate of the above)
This stunning Fiat 519S is believed to be the only true short-wheelbase Torpedo Sport Speciale in existence. Discovered in an Australian barn in 2001, the car was offered for sale in Richmond, Australia. When prolific car collector and restorer Hans Compter laid eyes on it, he immediately recognized he had found something truly extraordinary. Though much of its original rear body section had been cut away, the car possessed a shorter wheelbase than a standard Fiat 519 and a V’d radiator, an important distinguishing feature. Compter purchased the car and shipped it back to his collection in New Zealand.
Back at his garage in Kauri, New Zealand, Compter, his son Dennis, and a team of master restorers began a challenging five-year restoration. Technical drawings obtained directly from Storico Fiat in Torino were employed to ensure accuracy as the team resurrected this important Italian motorcar’s structural components. The torpedo body is a complex masterpiece of Carrozzeria Fiat, consisting of convex flanks and a concave tail section, inlaid with steam-bent hardwood reminiscent of the opulent wooden watercraft of the period – all painstakingly re-created by Compter’s team. The original V’d radiator was restored by Blaak, a Dutch firm known for such specialty work. The wheels were re-created in New Zealand to accept specially commissioned beaded-edge tires, which provided the correct profile for this car. The meticulously prepared body was painted deep red, accented by black wheels, chassis, and folding top. Complemented by a matching red leather interior, its finely finished wooden components and sparkling brightwork complete the Fiat’s show-stopping image.
The Fiat 519 was highly advanced for its time, featuring an overhead valve six-cylinder engine, four-speed gearbox, hydraulically assisted drum brakes on all four wheels, and an adjustable steering wheel. This 519S retains its original engine, as verified by the included Fiat Classiche Certificato Di Origine. Its original body number, 524, is stamped on the fenders and hood slats. An additional crated 519 engine and gearbox, original parts book, restoration file, photo book, and discovery photos are included in the sale.
Fiat produced 2,411 examples of the 519 between 1922 and 1927 in four-door sedan, four-door limousine, and four-door cabriolet body styles. Today, fewer than 25 are known to survive. This 519S Torpedo Sport Speciale is the only true short-wheelbase torpedo known. The owners who have enjoyed the car since the restoration have not exhibited it, and this Fiat will surely be the topic of conversation at any concours d’elegance. Said to be an excellent driver, it will also be warmly welcomed at the most prestigious rally and touring events around the world.