Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

Fiat

Fiat


A chronological day-by-day history of Fiat.

Sunday 23rd October 1898

118 years ago

Ceirano & Cie, Societe per la Costruzione di Campioni per la Fabbricazione di Vetture Automobil was founded in Turin, Italy - located in a building by the parents of Vincenzo Lancia. This firm would evolve into Fiat SpA.

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Monday 19th March 1900

117 years ago

The new Fiat plant in Turin, Italy was officially opened by the Duke of Genoa.

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Monday 23rd April 1900

116 years ago

A Fiat made its first competition appearance in the Turin-Pinerolo-Cuneo-Turin race.

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Monday 2nd July 1900

116 years ago

The first Padova to Bovolenta automobile, voiturette and motorcycle race in Italy began. The first day had a 10-kilometre (6.2 mile) straight race between the cities of Padova and Bovolenta in Italy, followed by a 1-kilometre (0.62 mile) race in Padova the next day. L. Gastè won in a three-wheeler vehicle Soncin (8 mins 2 sec), followed by Ettore Bugatti in a Prinetti & Stucchi quadricycle and Vincenzo Lancia in a Fiat 6HP.

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Saturday 24th August 1901

115 years ago

The 50 mile (80 km) Piombino-Grosseto road race in Italy was won by Felice Nazzaro in a FIAT 12 hp.

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Sunday 22nd June 1902

114 years ago

The first Sassi-Superga Hillclimb was staged near Turin, Italy was won by Vincenzo Lancia in a FIAT 24-hp, the marque's racing debut.

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Monday 27th October 1902

114 years ago

Vincenzo Florio in a Panhard 40HP (5 minutes 21 sconds) won the Padova - Bovolenta race followed by Vincenzo Lancia in a Fiat 34HP and Luigi Storero in a Fiat 12HP.

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Friday 16th October 1903

113 years ago

Napier Cars announced a 6-cylinder car for 1904, thereby becoming the first to make a commercially successful ‘six’, described as a ‘remarkably smooth and flexible’ 18-bhp, 4.9-litre engine with 3-speed gearbox and chain drive. Within 5 years, there were 62 manufacturers of 6-cylinder cars in Britain alone. Edge announced the Napier 6-cylinder engine car on 24th October 1903 for the 1904 season at a dinner at the Trocadero with many motoring notables present along with the press. The first car was shown during February 1904 and details published in the motoring magazines. A 6-cylinder car was a major motoring innovation at that time. The 6-cylinder cars were exceptionally successful in competition along with S F Edge's enthusiasm in promoting the cars. Before Brooklands opened Edge organised for three 60 HP 6-cylinder cars for the well known 24 Hour Run. The cars averaged 60 mph for the duration and Edge drove his car for the entire run. The record stood fr many years. However the flowing year Edge withdrew from racing leaving private owners to continue on their own account. At one period Edge had a team of 6 Napiers racing at Brooklands. It is fair to say that car sales suffered after Edge withdrew from racing, the Napier name not appearing in print to the same degree. However a considerable number of World Records were held by Napiers up to 1909. Although Samson was a racing car it must be included as it is probably the most famos 6-cylinder Napier. L48 Samson competed in both the UK, on the continent and in the USA. Its original 6-cylinder engine was 6.125" bore x 5" stroke. It achieved 104 mph at Daytona in 1905 which is incredible when you consider that 5 years earlier average speeds were only 12 mph in the 1,000 Mile Trial. In the famous Napier Fiat race at Brookands it was timed at over 100 mph. Samson had a second engine fitted in 1908 (6.25" x 6") and later what is described as "Large Crank" giving a stroke of 7" and a capacity of 20 litres. Samson won the 90 hp Class in 1908 being timed at 119 mph on a lap at Brooklands. It was clocked on the Byfleet banking at 30 mph but suffered a broken crankshaft, not surprising considering he 'whip' on the crankshaft. The car also won many sprint records. Bob Chamberlain in Australia manufactured a replica of Samson using the original engine which had been fitted in a boat in Australia. The replica is capable of 100 mph. Britain might be considered a late starter however the motor industry made enormous technical strides in a vey short period of time. Napier was soon roaring ahead of most British and European manufacturers in the first decade of the 20th Century.

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Sunday 4th September 1904

112 years ago

The first major Italian race, the Florio Cup, was won by Vincenzo Lancia driving a Fiat at 71.90 mph. Vincenzo Florio, the founder of the event, came third.

Lancia 1904 Florio Cup

Lancia 1904 Florio Cup

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Saturday 20th May 1905

111 years ago

The first races are stage at the Hippodrome in Morris Park, Bronx, New York, US. Louis Chevrolet made his racing debut, and won two of the three races in his 90 hp Fiat - the White steam-powered race car, 'Whistling Billy', driven by Webb Jay, made its debut and covered a mile in 53 seconds during an exhibition run.

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Sunday 21st May 1905

111 years ago

In the inaugural motor racing events on the 1.39 mile dirt Morris Park oval, New York. Louis Chevrolet drove a Fiat to the fastest time in a 1 mile time trial and also won a 3 lap "Free for All" event, while Charles Basle drove the Flying Dutchman I Mercedes to victory in the 5 mile race. In reality, the course was a horse track that had lost the support of the New York horse racing community who turned their attention to the newly completed Belmont Park race track. Previous to the opening of Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes had been held at Morris Park. Repurposed as an auto racing facility, the track struggled financially until it was sold to developers and eventually closed entirely in 1910. The rabid newspaper campaign against track racing after the August 1905 accidents injuring top stars Barney Oldfield, Webb Jay and Earl Kiser came at a terrible time for the facility. In addition to the May opener, Morris Park hosted two additional significant 1905 auto race meets held in June and July. Pictured in the inset of the above image is Louis Chevrolet in Major Charles Miller's 90 horsepower Fiat. Talking to him is the long-time AAA official and the referee of the first Indianapolis 500 Art Pardington.

Morris Park, New York - 1905

Morris Park, New York - 1905

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Tuesday 4th July 1905

111 years ago

The special racing version of the White steam car, driven by Webb Jay, defeated a Fiat and a Thomas in a match race at the Morris Park Dirt Track in the Bronx, New York, lowering the world's mile record to 48.6 seconds. Known as ‘Whistling Billy’, the racer was manufactured by the White Motor Company of Cleveland Ohio, US.

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Sunday 6th May 1906

110 years ago

The inaugural running of the Targa Florio, the legendary open-road endurance race held in the mountains of Sicily near Palermo. Founded by wealthy Sicilian wine producer Vincenzo Florio, the race was held at Madonie and run over three laps of the 92.47-mile circuit, totalling 277.41 miles. Each lap was an ordeal as the roads weren’t designed for cars. Drivers encountered both domestic and wild animals as well as bandits. Entries had to be production cars of which ten had been made. Other than that, there were no rules. Vincenzo Lancia organized the betting, common at auto races in those days.Thirty cars entered, but a dock strike in Genoa hampered travel, so only ten made it to the start. Each car was sent off from Campofelice every ten minutes. First away was bookie Lancia in his Fiat followed by Jacques Le Blon in a Hotchkiss with his riding-mechanic wife. To the dismay of those who had money on him, Lancia retired due to mechanical failure. Le Blond suffered a number of tire punctures; Mrs. Le Blon had to help changing them. Alessandro Cagno in an Itala 35/40 HP won in 9 1/2 hours averaging 29 mph. Carlo Graziani was second in another Italia while Paul Bablot in a Berliet was third.

Allesandro Cagno winner the inaugural Targa Florio in 1906 driving an Itala 35/40 HP for over nine hours averaging 29 mph.

Allesandro Cagno winner the inaugural Targa Florio in 1906 driving an Itala 35/40 HP for over nine hours averaging 29 mph.

1906 Targa Florio - the Isotta Fraschini team (cars #7) are lined up at in Termini attended by goats.

1906 Targa Florio - the Isotta Fraschini team (cars #7) are lined up at in Termini attended by goats.

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Thursday 29th November 1906

110 years ago

Vincenzo Lancia together with the former Fiat test driver, Claudio Fogolin, founded his own company called Lancia & C. Fabbrica Automobili. The first Lancia automobile the "Tipo 51" or 12 HP (later called Alfa) was produced in 1907-1908. It had a small four-cylinder engine with a power of 28 hp. Vincenzo Lancia continued driving for Fiat until 1910.

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Friday 14th June 1907

109 years ago

The inaugural Kaiser Prize Race, the 'Kaiserpreisa', a replacement for the Gordon Bennett Cup, was held. The race was staged in the same region that had hosted the Gordon Bennett Race three years earlier. The new course even included a section of the old circuit, although in the opposite direction of travel. Since only forty vehicles were allowed to enter the race, while ninety had signed up, two elimination trials were held on 13 June 1907. These would determine who could participate in the main event. When Emil Schmidt on a Dürkopp automobile started at around 4:10 a.m., the Kaiser himself was among those present in the stands watching the elimination proceedings. Many vehicles dropped out due to accidents or engine damage: the weather was far from fit for a Kaiser. On the day of the main race, Friday the 14th of June, 1907, the skies cleared and the roads gradually grew dusty. The race got underway at 6:00 a.m., the vehicles starting, at two minute intervals, for what was to be a five-hour battle for victory. Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the race course, cheering the cars as they passed. Several drivers were forced to drop out of the race in the very first circuit: Pöge on a Mercedes, because of a defective carburettor; a cylinder in need of repair took out Florio and his Darraq; Hugo Wilhelm had a collision with a milestone; and Gabriel on his Dietrich dropped out because of a defect in its petrol tank. At the end of the first round, the Italian Felice Nazzaro on a Fiat was in the lead, with a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes. As the end of the race approached, the Kaiser had to face the fact that the leading automobiles were not of German manufacture. At the end of the 4th round, Nazzaro crossed the finish line first, with a time of 5 hours, 34 minutes and 26 seconds. Five minutes later Hautvast, a Belgian, came in on a Pipe. After another five seconds, the first German car crossed the finish line: Carl Jörns driving an Opel. The winner’s average speed was 84.81 km/h. None of the highly lauded favourites had made the grade, including Camille Jenatzy on the Mercedes, the winner of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race. Jenatzy needed 32 minutes more than the winning Italian driver to finish. Of the 39 teams that had started out, 21 crossed the finish line. The Kaiserpreis, designed by the supreme leader himself, was awarded to the Italian before a cheering crowd. A large, attractive vase went to the second-placed Belgian team. Then Jörns, as the best German driver, received an almost 60-centimetre tall lidded vase from the Kaiser’s own hand. Jörns and Opel were later fêted as victors in Germany.

Kaiser Prize Race - 1907

Kaiser Prize Race - 1907

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Tuesday 2nd July 1907

109 years ago

Thirty eight cars started the French Grand Prix at one minute intervals to complete 10 laps of a 48-mile (77 km) circuit on a triangular circuit near the city of Dieppe. The field was led away by Vincenzo Lancia's Fiat. The race was run under a fuel consumption limit of 30 litres per 100 kilometres (7.84 miles per US gallon; 9.42 miles per imperial gallon).Louis Wagner led the race for the first three laps. After Wagner retired on lap four, Arthur Duray inherited the lead. Duray set the fastest lap, with an average speed of 75.40 mph (121.34 km/h), and led the race until his retirement on lap nine. Felice Nazzaro's Fiat led from this point until the finish, completing the race over six and a half minutes ahead of second placed Ferenc Szisz. Nazzaro's average speed was 70.6 mph (113.6 km/h) for the race. Nazzaro’s Fiat won the race over six and a half minutes ahead of second placed Ferenc Sziszat, at 70.6 mph (113.6 km/h).

1907 French Grand Prix by Michael Hagel

1907 French Grand Prix by Michael Hagel

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Friday 24th June 1910

106 years ago

Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A. was founded as A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili) in Milan. The company has been involved in car racing since 1911. It was owned by Italian state holding company Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale between 1932 and 1986, when it became a part of the Fiat group. In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand was transformed into the current Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary of Fiat Group Automobiles, now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy. The company that became Alfa Romeo was founded as Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID) in 1906 by the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq, with some Italian investors. In late 1909, the Italian Darracq cars were selling slowly and the Italian partners of the company hired Giuseppe Merosi to design new cars. On June 24, 1910, a new company was founded named A.L.F.A., initially still in partnership with Darracq. The first non-Darracq car produced by the company was the 1910 24 HP, designed by Merosi. A.L.F.A. ventured into motor racing, with drivers Franchini and Ronzoni competing in the 1911 Targa Florio with two 24-hp models. In August 1915, the company came under the direction of Neapolitan entrepreneur Nicola Romeo, who converted the factory to produce military hardware for the Italian and Allied war efforts. In 1920, the name of the company was changed to Alfa Romeo with the Torpedo 20-30 HP the first car to be so badged. In 1921, the Banca Italiana di Sconto, which backed the Ing. Nicola Romeo & Co, went broke and the government needed to support the industrial companies involved, among which was Alfa Romeo, through the "Consorzio per Sovvenzioni sui Valori Industriali". In 1925, the railway activities were separated from the Romeo company, and in 1928, Nicola Romeo left. In 1933, the state ownership was reorganized under the banner of the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI) by Benito Mussolini's government, which then had effective control. The company struggled to return to profitability after the Second World War, and turned to mass-producing small vehicles rather than hand-building luxury models. In 1954, it developed the Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine, which would remain in production until 1994. During the 1960s and 1970s, Alfa Romeo produced a number of sporty cars, though the Italian government parent company, Finmeccanica, struggled to make a profit, so it sold the marque to the Fiat Group in 1986. Alfa Romeo has competed successfully in many different categories of motorsport, including Grand Prix motor racing, Formula One, sportscar racing, touring car racing, and rallies. It has competed both as a constructor and an engine supplier, via works entries (usually under the name Alfa Corse or Autodelta), and private entries. The first racing car was made in 1913, three years after the foundation of the company, and Alfa Romeo won the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925. The company gained a good name in motorsport, which gave a sporty image to the whole marque. Enzo Ferrari founded the Scuderia Ferrari racing team in 1929 as an Alfa Romeo racing team, before becoming independent in 1939. It holds the world's title of the most wins of any marque in the world.

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Sunday 19th March 1911

106 years ago

Teddy Tetzlaff, driving a 46 hop Lozier defeated th 90 hp Fiat of Ralph DePalma in a match staged at the Playa del Rey Motordrome in Los Angeles, California, US.

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Sunday 23rd July 1911

105 years ago

The Automobile Club de la Sarthe organized the Grand Prix de France was won by Victor Hemery driving a FIAT S61. This race is not considered to be part of the lineage of French Grands Prix, as it was a separate event from the official French Grand Prix, the Grand Prix de l'ACF, organized by the Automobile Club de France from 1906 onwards.

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Thursday 30th November 1911

105 years ago

The American Grand Prize, the final race of the 1911 Grand Prix season was held on the Savannah, Georgia road course three days after the Vanderbilt Cup was held on the same track. It was sanctioned by the Automobile Club of America. David Bruce-Brown in a Fiat S74 won by just over two minutes over Eddie Hearne. Bruce-Brown's average speed was 74.458 mph (121.478 km/h).

1911 American Grand Prize

1911 American Grand Prize

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Monday 15th April 1912

104 years ago

Washington Augustus Roebling II, car racer and designer, perished in the RMS Titanic when the ship sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. Roebling was the son of John A. Roebling, president of Roebling and Sons Company of Trenton, New Jersey. Washington's namesake, Colonel Washington A. Roebling, had been one of the builders of the Brooklyn Bridge. Young Washington began work as an engineer at the Walter Automobile Plant, which was later taken over by the Mercer Automobile Company. While working for Mercer, Washington designed and built the Roebling-Planche race car that he raced to a second-place finish in the 1910 edition of the Vanderbilt Cup Race. In early 1912, Washington embarked on a tour of Europe with his friend Stephen Blackwell. Roebling's chauffeur Frank Stanley brought with him the Roebling's Fiat in which the group began their continental adventure. A week before the completion of their tour, Stanley fell ill, and returned to America with the family Fiat. Roebling and Blackwell booked passage on the RMS Titanic in the first-class cabin. On the night of April 14, according to Titanic survivor Edith Graham, Roebling alerted her and her daughter to the danger. He helped them to a lifeboat making no attempt to save his own life and reportedly remarked to them cheerfully, "You will be back with us on the ship again soon." Both Roebling and Blackwell perished.

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Sunday 26th May 1912

104 years ago

Cyril Snipe of England with co-driver Pedrini in a SCAT became the first non-Italian winners of the Targa Florio. They completed the 965 kilometre course around the island of Sicily in 24 hours 37 minutes 39 seconds. Snipe defeated a field of 26 cars, including Lancia, Isotta-Fraschini, Fiat and Alfa. The race passed through Palermo; Messina; Catania; Syracuse; Ragusa; Gela; Agrigento; Marsala; Trapani; and back to Palermo.Snipe drove a SCAT again in the 1913 Targa Florio race but failed to finish.

Snipe in his SCAT at the 1912 Targa Florio

Snipe in his SCAT at the 1912 Targa Florio

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Tuesday 25th June 1912

104 years ago

(25th – 26th): The French Grand Prix race was run over two days with the drivers completing ten laps on each day and their times being aggregated to produce the winner. Coupe de l'Auto cars competed alongside Grand Prix cars. Riding mechanic Jean Bassignano was killed in a lap 3 crash when his driver Léon Collinet put a wheel off and flipped. 47 cars started the race at 30 second intervals, with Victor Rigal's Sunbeam the first to start. Victor Hemery, driving a Lorraine-Dietrich held the lead after the first lap. David Bruce-Brown's Fiat subsequently took the lead and retained it overnight, more than two minutes ahead of Georges Boillot's Peugeot. Louis Wagner was third at the halfway stage. During the second day, Bruce-Brown was disqualified for refuelling away from the pits on lap 15, giving Boillot a comfortable victory by over thirteen minutes from Wagner.

Grandstands at the 1912 French Grand Prix at Dieppe

Grandstands at the 1912 French Grand Prix at Dieppe

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Saturday 5th October 1912

104 years ago

American Grand Prize, the seventh and final race of the 1912 Grand Prix season, was held at the Wauwatosa Road Race Course in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sanctioned by the American Automobile Association, Caleb Bragg in a Fiat S74 won the race by over 15 minutes from Erwin Bergdoll. Bragg's average speed was 68.397 mph (110.074 km/h). The event was marred by the death of two time and defending winner David Bruce-Brown in a practice accident. His car was repaired by Barney Oldfield and driven to a fourth place finish.

1912 American Grand Prize Milwaukee grid

1912 American Grand Prize Milwaukee grid

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Saturday 12th October 1912

104 years ago

Riding mechanic Tony Scudelari died from injuries suffered 12 days earlier when the Fiat driven by David Bruce-Brown crashed during practice for the Grand Prize race in Milwaukee, US.

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Friday 4th July 1913

103 years ago

Frank Verbeck won $50,000 when he drove a Fiat to victory in the 444 mile Pan-Pacific Road Race from Los Angeles to Sacramento. It is the longest race held on public roads in California, US, history.

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Monday 8th December 1913

103 years ago

Arthur Duray driving the 300 hp Super Fiat at Ostend, Belgium recorded a one-way run at 132.37 mph, which was faster than the existing land speed record, but was not officially recognised.

1913 Arthur Duray - 300 hp Super Fiat, Ostend

1913 Arthur Duray - 300 hp Super Fiat, Ostend

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Saturday 28th February 1914

103 years ago

Eddie Pullen won the 5th 'American Grand Prize' in his Mercer. Resuming after a one year break, the race was held for the first time on an 8.417 mile course of streets in and around Santa Monica. It was the first (and only) time an American driver won the American Grand Prix in an American car. Teddy Tetzlaff followed his normal routine by storming his Fiat S74 off into the lead, turning the fastest lap (86.6 mph) and then retiring. Spencer Wishart then took the lead, keeping his yellow Mercer out front until mid-race when engine trouble sidelined him. The only English car ever to contest the American Grand Prix, Marquis' Sunbeam was leading when it tipped over rounding a corner on lap 33. Gil Anderson's Stutz moved up only to retire 3 laps from the finish with a broken piston. Pullen averaged 77.324 mph for the 48 lap, 404 mile race, finishing 39 minutes, 53 seconds ahead of the Marmon of Guy Ball. William Taylor was 3rd in an Alco and Ralph DePalma, winner of the Vanderbilt Cup held two days earlier on the same course, finished 4th. 250,000 spectators were on hand.

1914 American Grand Prize

1914 American Grand Prize

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Tuesday 1st December 1914

102 years ago

The Italian luxury car manufacturer Maserati was established in Bologna. The company's headquarters are now in Modena, and its emblem is a trident. It has been owned by the Italian car giant Fiat S.p.A. since 1993.

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Sunday 25th July 1915

101 years ago

Barney Oldfield, driving a Fiat at Des Moines Speedway in Iowa, US set an unofficial 5-mile World's Record of 3 minutes and 1.62 seconds.

Barney Oldfield

Barney Oldfield

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Sunday 26th February 1922

95 years ago

Vincenzo Lancia and Felice Nazzaro laid the first stone as construction began on the Autodromo di Monza, universally known as the Temple of Speed. But only a few days later it was ordered the suspension of work for reasons of “artistic and monumental value and landscape conservation”. As the intricate controversy developed the argument for the absolute necessity of the autodrome prevailed, and at the end the circuit was built with features comparable to those originally called for, although with a total length reduced to 10 kilometres. Work began on May 15th with completion date set for August 15th: 3,500 workers, 200 waggons, 30 lorries, and a narrowgauge railway 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long with 2 locomotives and 80 cars were employed. The autodrome was completed in the record time of 110 days and the track was entirely covered for the first time on July 28th by Petro Bordino and Felice Nazzaro in a Fiat 570. The circuit included a road track of 5.5 kilometres and a high-speed loop with a total lenght of 4.5 kilometres featuring two banked curves that made possible a theoretical top speed of 180-190 km/h. They were linked by two straights, each 1,070 metres long. The road and speed tracks intersected on two levels with an underpass in the Serraglio zone. The public was received in two separate areas. The stands enclosure included the central grandstand with 3,000 seats, and six side stands with 1,000 seats each. The park enclosure included bleachers on the outside of the high-speed curves, the small south curve, and near the confluence of the two tracks. The track was officially opened on a rainy 3rd September 1922 with Premier Facta present, a race being run with Voiturettes and won by Pietro Bordino in a racing model Fiat 501.This was followed on September 8th by the motorcycle Grand Prix of Nations with overall factory going to Amedeo Ruggeri on a Harley Davidson 1000 and Gnesa with a 2- stroke Garelli 350 in the 500 class. On September 10th the second Italian Grand Prix for automobiles was again won by Bordino in a 6-cylinder Fiat 804.

Monza banking under construction

Monza banking under construction

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Sunday 16th July 1922

94 years ago

Felice Nazzaro came out of retirement as a driver and took his Fiat 804 to victory in the 8th A.C.F. Grand Prix. The race was held for the first and only time on an 8.3 mile circuit of public roadways around Strasbourg. Nazzaro covered the 60 laps, 498 miles in 6 hours and 17 minutes, for an average of 79.198 mph. Nazzaro finished a bit more than 58 minutes ahead of runner-up Pierre de Vizcaya's Bugatti T30. Nazzaro's win was marred by the death of his nephew Biagio, who died when his Fiat broke an axle and crashed on the final lap. It was the second A.C.F. Grand Prix win for the veteran Nazzaro, having won the 2nd running 15 years earlier in 1907.

Felice Nazzaro at the 1922 French Grand Prix

Felice Nazzaro at the 1922 French Grand Prix

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Friday 28th July 1922

94 years ago

Pietro Bordino and Felice Nazzaro in a Fiat 570 became the first to drive around the newly completed racing circuit at Monza, Italy.

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Thursday 14th June 1923

93 years ago

Evasio Lampiano (36) died when he crashed his 1.5-L Fiat at Faucille during practice for a hillclimb in Turin, Italy.

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Friday 29th June 1923

93 years ago

A Fiat 803 won the 340 mile race at Brescia, Italy. This was the first European race won by a supercharged car.

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Sunday 9th September 1923

93 years ago

The Italian Grand Prix, held at Monza, the first race to be designated as the European Grand Prix, was won by Carlo Salamano in a FIAT 805.

Ferdinando Minoia at the 1923 Italian Grand Prix

Ferdinando Minoia at the 1923 Italian Grand Prix

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Sunday 6th July 1924

92 years ago

Frenchman René Thomas and Englishman Ernest Eldridge fought a duel to raise the world land speed record on the long, straight but narrow Arpajon road near Paris in France. Driving a V12 Delage, the Frenchman achieved 143.31 mph, but Eldridge bettered this with 146.8 mph in his aero-engined Fiat. However, Eldridge's record was disqualified after Thomas protested that the Fiat had no reverse gear, as required by the regulations. Eldridge returned to Arpajon 8 days later, having fitted a reverse gear, and finally set an official record of 146.01 mph - the last time that the record was set on a public road.

Ernest Eldridge, ready to start the record run at Arpajon in 1924

Ernest Eldridge, ready to start the record run at Arpajon in 1924

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Saturday 12th July 1924

92 years ago

Ernest A. D. Eldridge driving a FIAT Mefistofele in Arpajon, France established a new World Land Speed Record of 145.89 mph (234.79 km/h).The Mephistopheles was created by combining the chassis of the 1908 Fiat SB4 with a 6-cylinder, 21.7 litre (21706 cc) Fiat A.12 aeroplane engine producing 320 PS (235 kW; 316 bhp). This was the last land speed record set on a public road.

FIAT Mefistofele

FIAT Mefistofele

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Sunday 5th October 1924

92 years ago

Parry Thomas set the first Montlhery lap record, of 42.4 seconds at a speed of 131.89 mph (212.26 km/h) in a Leyland, during a Match Race against Ernest Eldridge in a 300 hp aeroplane-engined chain-driven Fiat and Duray in a 8 cylinder D’Aoust on the Sunday of the first meeting at the newly opened track. Eldridge won the race at 121.04 mph (194.8 km/h), after the Leyland developed tyre trouble.

Parry Thomas

Parry Thomas

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Friday 4th March 1927

90 years ago

The FIAT 509 Sport made its world debut at the Geneva Auto Show. For several decades, Fiat supplied the chassis of many Italian sports cars developed by small manufacturers who made use of the large brand's components. This Fiat 509 roadster had a straight 4 single overhead cam shaft 990 cc engine assembled on a special body inspired by the Alfa Romeo of Zagato.

Fiat 509

Fiat 509

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Thursday 6th March 1930

87 years ago

The Italian government extended the 25 year charter given to Fiat in 1906 until 1980.

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Sunday 8th May 1932

84 years ago

Louis Chiron was the only foreigner in the 23rd Targa Florio where just 16 cars arrived for the race, two from the Maserati works, five Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos and two Bugattis, entered privately by Chiron and Varzi. Seven other independents with Bugatti, O.M. and Fiat completed the field. Nuvolari who led from start to finish and Borzacchini with their Alfa Romeos dominated the race, which went over eight laps of a new shortened 72 km circuit. On the third lap Varzi's Bugatti dropped out after which he shared Chiron's car, bringing it home in third place behind Nuvolari and Borzacchini in Alfa Monzas. The 2.8-liter Maseratis had stayed in mid-field and while Fagioli retired his car after the first lap, Ruggeri was able to complete the entire distance and finished fifth. Only six cars were able to complete the hardest circuit race in the world on a very hot day.

Targa Florio - 1932

Targa Florio - 1932

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Friday 2nd November 1934

82 years ago

La Société Industrielle de Méchanique et de Carrosserie Automobile, SIMCA, was formed with FIAT at 163 to 185 Avenue Georges Clemenceau, in Nanterre, France. Simca was affiliated with Fiat and then, after Simca bought Ford's French activities, became increasingly controlled by the Chrysler Group. In 1970, Simca became a subsidiary and brand of Chrysler Europe, ending its period as an independent company. Simca disappeared in 1978, when Chrysler divested its European operations to another French automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroën. PSA replaced the Simca brand with Talbot after a short period when some models were badged as Simca-Talbots.

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Tuesday 7th April 1936

80 years ago

The Fiat Topolino was introduced.

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Thursday 15th October 1936

80 years ago

The 30th International Motor Exhibition opened in London, England, at Olympia. The following review of the show appeared in The Spectator the following day: "One of the few real surprises of the show is the new 12- cylinder Lagonda, designed by Mr. W. 0. Bentley. It was only announced a week before the opening, a very brief warning of what is only the second British Twelve in history, apart. from the sleeve-valved Daimlers built to the order; of the late . King. The new Lagonda has its cylifsders set' ià the two banks of six each, V-fashion. The bore and stroke are 75 by 84.5 (very nearly "square "), the cubic content is 41 litres, the rated power 42 and the tax 2.31 10s. It has a four-speed synchro-meshed gearbox, with central change, and it is built in two chassis lengths, 11 ft. and 11 ft. 6 in., both with a 60-inch track. There is independent front,wheel springing and in most respects the design follows the most recent trend. Another new model which might almost be called a new car is the 8-cylinder Sunbeam, a notable addition to the respectable list of British luxury cars. It is two years or so since any Sunbeams have been built, and there is no question but • that the company are re-entering the market with a striking car. The engine has its cylinders in line, but in spite of that it is one of the shortest units of its power made. It is much shorter and more compact than either the last 8-cylinder Sunbeam or the better-known 3-litre Six, which, with the original Bentley and the " 30-98 " Vauxhall, led the world in high-performance ears. The power is a nominal 30, an actual 150 hp., the cubic content being 41 litres, from a bore and stroke of 80 by 112. It is a beautiful piece of work, admirably laid out and superbly finished. The chassis costs £750 and £800, according to length, and the complete car costs from £1,195 upwards. The new 6 h.p. Fiat is interesting in that it is the smallest 4-cylinder car in existence andAprohably the. smallest eves made. The bore and stroke are 52 by 67, a shade over 2 in. by 21 in., which gives a capacity of 570 c.c. and a 13.11.p. of 13. It has a. 4-speed gear box with synehro-meshed third and fourth, and except for its minute dimensions the whole ear is exactly like any other. It is, as it were, a made!, the only difference, which incidentally is not noticeable with the bon- net down, is that the radiator and axle are behind the engine and-not in front. 'A single transverse spring provides independent suspension in front, while the rear axle is sprung on ordinary quarter ellipties, and the whole is assisted by hydraulic shock absorbers. The wheel base is 6 ft. Olin., the track 3 ft. 71 in. and 3 ft. 61 in. in rear. The body is a 2-seated saloon-with the usual " occasional " accommodation behind, and, considering the very small .dimensions - of every- thing, entrance should be fairly easy through the very wide door. Apart from these new models, the new editions of existing cars all show that steady advance which distinguishes the whole Exhibition. "Armstrong Siddeley make an impressive display with _no . fewer. than nine cars, -two examples of the 14 three of the 17 h.p., three of the 20-25 and one of the Siddeley special. The particular improvements which apply to all these models include increased power and more vivid acceleration. There is no-noticeable change in any of them, but there is. a better single-plate clutch which is stated to give very smooth. engagement for the pre-selective gear- box, and all models now have' centralised chassis-lubrication and permanent jacks; In all these cars, the back seats are well forward oft he axle. Of the cars shown I like best the 14 h.p. 4-window-saloon, the 17 h.p. touring saloon, and the 20-25 h.p. Atalanta. saloon. These are all excellent examples of first-class British coach-work of plain and unostentatious design. Nine Austins in-all are shown, the 20 11.p. Mayfair limousine, the 10 h.p. York saloon, the 14 h.p. Goodwood saloon, the 12 h.p. Ascot saloon, the 10 h.p. cabriolet and. aaleon, and cabriolet and saloon on the 7 h.p. The principal changes in all the Austin cars is in their bodywork, which no*: has decidedly flowing lines:- Perhaps the model that 'is likely to be the star turn of the stand is the new 14 h.p. six-cylinder "• Goodwood " saloon, a very good-looking car that sells for £235. I had a special opportunity of examining this car when if was shown at the first " Television Motor Show" at Alexandra Palace last week, and I was impressed then with its sensible design and the comfort of its body. The newest Austin product is the " Conliay " cabriolet, shown on the Ten chassis. There is plenty of room in it and the hood can be left open at full or half-dropped positions. This car costs £182 10s. The New Ascot" Twelve has a 4-cylinder engine of 11.9 h.p., mounted on rubber, and looks excellent value at £210. Altogether a good display. Daimler are showing seven different models, of which perhaps the 15 h.p. is the most interesting, in that the power of the engine has been now increased to 17 h.p. Of the two examples shown I imagine the sports saloon at £475 will attract the most attention. Its lines are excellent. There is a Light Twenty with a 6-window saloon, a light straight 8 with a sports saloon (this is the car that has done 94 m.p.h. at Brooklands), and a decidedly impressive example of the 41 litre straight 8 with a limousine body by Hooper, costing £1,510. With the exception of the 15 h.p. there are no changes worth mentioning in the Daimler design for 1937. The chief exhibits on the Rolls-Royce stand are naturally the new Phantom III 12-cylinder, which made its first appear- ance last year. The engine of this, it will be remembered, consists of two banks of 6 cylinders each ; the treasury rating of this is 50.7 h.p. Minor improvements have been made throughout, but in general the car remains the same. It is shown in two types of limousine costing £2,605 and £2,650. The other exhibits are two limousines on the 20.25 h.p. 6-cylinder chassis, one by Thrupp & Maberly and the other by Park Ward, costing 11,572 and £1,767 respectively. In this chassis also there is no change to report. Rovers are showing their new 16 h.p. saloon and their new speed model, which is a 20 h.p., the remaining cars shown being a Ten, two Twelves and two Fourteens. Very little change has been made in the Rover chassis for this year, and what there is is chiefly in the line. The radiator guard has been brought a little further forwards and, as far as I can see, there is rather more room in the bodywork. The roof and the rear panel cantours of the Ten have been redesigned and the front door is now hung on the centre pillar. The prices of the cars Shown arc, tha-Ten-A248, the two Twelves 1285 and £295, the two Fourteens £305 and £315, the Sixteens 1345 and 1355. and the sports, a good-looking car finished in two shades of greed,: at £415. Vauxhall's new car, the chief exhibit, is their 25 h.p., which sells at the remarkably low price of £298. The 6-cylinder engine has a bore and stroke of 81-94 by 19L6, with a cubic capacity of 3215 c.c., and a very remarkabl' performiuice is claimed for it. The maximum speed- is stated to be 80 ' while the claimed acceleration is as follows. In top speed it takes 7 1/5 seconds to reach 30 m.p.h.'from 10 m.p.h., and 53/5 seconds on third speed ; 50 m.p.h. is reached in 16 seconds, using all gears. The Vauxhall independent suspension is used in front, and, in general, all the familiar features of the make are incorporated. The makers consider that this car is the fastest they have made since the famous " 30;98 " of distinguished memory. The chief exhibit of interest of the Lanehester stand is the new 18 h.p., which is shown with a saloon No. 581. The bore and stroke of its engine are now 72 by 105, which gives it a treasury rating of. just -under g0 h.p. The price complete of the ear shown is.£595. Another very interesting-looking ear, which I hope to try for report in The Spectator in a few days, is the 14 h.p. 6-cylinder " Roadrider." This has a bore and stroke of 00 by 90, with a wheel base of 8 ft. 7 ins., and sells as shown on the stand for £330. The 11 h.p. remains much the same as last year, and an example of it with a neat saloon body is shown. To experienced motorists, one of the main points of interest in the Morris display will be the fact that practically no alterations have been found necessary—or if they have the makers have not considered it worth while to mention them. A strict adherence to approved design is always, to my mind, the best advertisement any car can have. The entire range of the six Morris cars is shown from the £120 8 h.p. open tourer to the £280 25 h.p. saloon. The new features of the 8 h.p. include a spring steering-wheel, a carburettor silencer, a fume exhaust-pipe and needle bearing universal joints. The 10 h.p. and the 12 h.p. are fitted with a permanent jacking system, the accommodation in the rear compartment in the saloon has been improved and a new, type, of external oil filter, which can be easily dismantled for cleaning, has been adopted. Officially speaking, the centre of attraction on the Riley staiakii-nep. Monaco, which has been reintroduced after a lapse of a year. Bodywork has been considerably improved and there are six windows instead of four. For my part I consider the 14 litre Falcon, which I recently tried for The Spectator, of greater interest if only because it is more powerful. This chassis is shown with the Falcon and Adelphi saloons, the Lynx tourer and the two-seater Spright. Perhaps the most attractive-looking car on the stand is the 15 h.p. 6- cylinder Kestrel, which has what is called aero line coachwork. The new V8 Ninety is shown with a very agreeable saloon body finished in what looks like transparent green. , : All the Humber models, the Snipe, the Pullman, the 18 h.p. and the 12 h.p., are represented in the eight cars displayed. While it is not exact to say that the :bigger Humber is a new „ car, the engine's dimensions have been increased, bringing the capacity from 34 litres to just over 4 litres, and- the rated - h.p. to 27; and the 18 h.p. -has _now-: a 2-ilitre ingine.1 In. Other respects the design of the HUMber remains much the same as before, the two larger cars having:the even-keel front- . Wheel suspension, while the 12 h.p. is fitted -With -the normal type. The Snipe and 18 h.p. can be fitted with the de Nora-am- -vine quick-changing gear which was recently described in The Spectator, while the 12 h.p. uses the normal type. The display of cars is a notable one; the Snipe is shown as a Pullman limousine, the Pullman Sedanca de ville as a saloon, and as a sports saloon, the last being fitted with the de Normanville gear-box. The 18 h.p. is shown as a 4-window saloon with a division and as a particularly attractive grey foursome coupe, while the two 12 h.p. are the standard saloon, which has been reduced in price to 1258, and the Vogue, which is now sold for £298. The latter, it will be remembered, was what is called '7 inspired " by'Molvneux, the dressmaker. • B.S.A. again show their Scout front-wheel drive 10 h.p. car in six different forms. - There are no differences between this tear's and last. year's model except in detaiLand,also in a.slight increase in power. Steering has been greatly improved as I have been able to prove for myself, and, all things considered, I regard this car as one of the most interesting in the Show. One regrets: that the idea has not been; adapted to a larger machine. There is a stripped chassis; that very rare and-wel- come thing in these days, two 2-seaters, two 4-seaters, and a , coupe de luxe. The prices range from £150 10s. to £189. A' Point of interest is that for an extra five guineas twin car- burettors can be fitted to any model. : Ford has his usual impressive display at the Albert Hall; a_ display. _of _such_variety...this music by a band called the V-8 Shadow Symphony Or- : iiiestra,"1--that there. in some -danger- of the. principal per- forthers being overlooked. The new car this year is the 22 h.p. V8, of which several attractive examples are shown. The original 30 h.p. V8, the Eight and the Ten, are displayed in various forms. 4 As in tlie case of the.standard productions, the special coachwork shcivis signs. of steady progress. Among the problem, that have been studied more particularly since last -year is sound-isolation, and there are various ingenioui methods by which noise- is kept away from the inside of the body. In some cases much trouble has been taken to reduce as far as possible the noise caused by wind-rush---a problem as difficult of solution as any, one would imagine. Ventilation has also advanced a good. deal - and it may be taken that from now on the ordinary well-built closed car will be free from " draughts and always fresh. -Several; leaves seein to have been taken out of the American coachbuilders' book in- the matter of the disposal Of luggage, and throughout the special coachwork section you will see' quite remarkably neat methods of carrying considerable quantities of suitcases and other kWard things protected from the weather and withoUt detracting from The 'lines of the car. These lines, by the way, are perhaps the best we have seen since the insane craze for what was called streamlining reached its peak and began to subside. There are _ very few examples of absurd designs and, on the ,other hand, nearly all the English coachwork has returned to dignity. There is a certain lightness of touch even on the largest and heaviest cars, which is very pleasing to the eye. Park Ward show some attractive work on Daimler, Bentley and Rolls-Royce chassis, Of Which I thought the four-wiudg, :nv saloon on the Bentley the most interesting from the. con- structional point of view. The frame, usually made of wood, is in this case made of 22-guage aircraft steel. The company show a division window which is decidedly novel. When the winding handle is turned the window rises Eat with the rOof where it is concealed by a flap. It is extremely neat and one of its advantages is that it gives more leg-room. Barker and Company show. some fine examples of their best Work on one straight-8 44 litre Daimler chassis, on two Rolls-Royces and one Bentley. Of these, the touring limousine on the 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce is perhaps the most striking, bat the Sriorts on the 44 litre Bentley, painted in light yellow, a colour that will remind_ old nuttorista_Qf cheerful days long past, runs it very close. The limousine has a special 'compartment for golf -Clubs which is likely to be one of the most popular innovations in coachwork generally. • Hooper and Company, show -a very agreeable sports saloon on a 25 h.p. Rolls-Royce, finished in grey, and a cream-and- black " Sedanca " on a 40/50 chassis. The Burlington Carriage Company have fitted an Armstrong Siddeley with a Town Brougham of attractive design, and Martin Walter has an excellently designed cabriolet on a Daimler-light straight 8. I do.not think there are any more open cars than there were last year, but there are quite a number on various stands, and most of them are certainly viry alluring.":.:In-the medern open 4-seater you sit consider- ably lower down than in the old-fashioned type, and, with Proper screening, there is no reason why,.in any weather but a raging north-east gale,--the 'occupants' Should not be well , preteeted. *There is an '- all=weitber. "tourer on two small WOlseley chassis Which' will explain what I mein.. Vanden Plas show an interesting :example of the pillarlesa saloon on the new Alvis 4.3: litre. ,--Jt is a matter. for some surprise that this design has not progressed any faster. It is not of any great importance on a big car, but on a little one it makes all the difference in the world. There is every reason to be well satisfied with the trend of coachwork design as well as with the improved workmanship. In spite of the fact that punctures and bursts-seldom happen to modern cars, old-timers (perhaps for the good of their souls)- are generallYitill slightly obsessed' by their possibility,. , or, if you prefer it, suffer a distinct inferiority complex on the subject. A de,ad'tyre 'will immobilise the best car as completely if not as long as will a petrol-shortage. At every motor-show therefore I slink round to that part which .houses the tyres, beautiful, new, tightly blown-up, obviously good for a. year's driving, and feast lay eyes on them. It is a senseless procedure, but I like it. This year I-am specially taken with,the Dunlop show, where they have all kinds Of dark, gleaming tyres toeheer me up, including the new " Cruiser " cover and- the _" Sports," which has a ferocious-looking.tread. Here, too, you can see all the kinds of wheels Used, centre-lock; ordinary detachable, Magna and disc, Also a very intriguing pressure-gauge."

British Motor Show at Olympia, London, 1936

British Motor Show at Olympia, London, 1936

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Monday 15th February 1937

80 years ago

Vincenzo Lancia died of natural causes aged 55. He was regarded as probably the fastest driver of his day, driving for Fiat before and shortly after becoming a car manufacturer himself in 1906. Lancia strangely insisted that his company stay out of competition and concentrate on building and selling road cars. However, when his son Gianni took over the company after World War II he took Lancia into sports car racing with some success.

Vincenzo Lancia

Vincenzo Lancia

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Friday 12th March 1937

80 years ago

The Fiat 500 Topolino was launched at the Geneva Motor Show. It was equipped with a 569 cc 4 cylinder, side-valve, water-cooled engine mounted in front of the front axle,(later an overhead valve motor) and so was a full-scale car rather than a cyclecar. The radiator was located behind the engine which made it possible to lower the aerodynamic nose profile at a time when competitors had a flat, nearly vertical grill.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

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Friday 15th April 1949

67 years ago

Abarth, the racing car maker was founded by Carlo Abarth of Turin. Its logo is a shield with a stylized scorpion on a red and yellow background. The company built and raced sports cars and in 1952 began an association with Fiat, utilising their mechanicals on some vehicles. By the 1960s the company was competing regularly in hill climbing and sports car racing events, with Johann Abt one of their most successful drivers. During the late 1960s, of the 30 races he entered in an Abarth car he won 29, finishing second on the other. Carlo sold Abarth to Fiat in 1971 and they ended the racing operations. However, Abarth effectively became Fiat’s racing department, preparing their rally cars. By 1981 Albarth& C had ceased to exist, although Fiat continued to use the Albarth name for some of its performance cars. On 1st February 2007, Albarth remerged as Albarth & C. S.p.a., a 100% owned subsidiary of Fiat, specialising in the production and sale of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. Earlier this year the company was renamed FCA Italy S.p.a.

Abarth logo

Abarth logo

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Saturday 12th November 1949

67 years ago

The first Volkswagen Type 2, later named the Transporter, rolled off the assembly line. Only two models were offered: the Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats that were easily removable by one person), and the Commercial. The Microbus was added in May 1950, joined by the Deluxe Microbus in June 1951. In all 9,541 Type 2s were produced in their first year of production. An ambulance model was added in December 1951 which repositioned the fuel tank in front of the transaxle, put the spare tire behind the front seat, and added a "tailgate"-style rear door.These features became standard on the Type 2 from 1955 to 1967. 11,805 Type 2s were built in the 1951 model year.These were joined by a single-cab pickup in August 1952, and it changed the least of the Type 2s until all were heavily modified in 1968. Unlike other rear engine Volkswagens, which evolved constantly over time but never saw the introduction of all-new models, the Transporter not only evolved, but was completely revised periodically with variations retrospectively referred to as versions "T1" to "T5" (a nomenclature only invented after the introduction of the front-drive T4 which replaced the T25). However, only generations T1 to T3 (or T25 as it is still called in Ireland and Great Britain) can be seen as directly related to the Beetle (see below for details)[citation needed]. The Type 2, along with the 1947 Citroën H Van, are among the first 'forward control' vans in which the driver was placed above the front roadwheels. They started a trend in Europe, where the 1952 GM Bedford CA, 1958 RAF-977, 1959 Renault Estafette, 1960 BMC Morris J4, and 1960 Commer FC also used the concept. In the United States, the Corvair-based Chevrolet Corvan cargo van and Greenbrier passenger van went so far as to copy the Type 2's rear-engine layout, using the Corvair's horizontally opposed, air-cooled engine for power. Except for the Greenbrier and various 1950s–70s Fiat minivans, the Type 2 remained unique in being rear-engined. This was a disadvantage for the early "barndoor" Panel Vans, which could not easily be loaded from the rear because the engine cover intruded on interior space, but generally advantageous in traction and interior noise. Like the Beetle, the van has received numerous nicknames worldwide, including the "microbus", "minibus", and, because of its popularity during the counterculture movement of the 1960s, Hippie van/wagon, and still remains iconic for many hippies today. Brazil contained the last factory in the world that produced the T2. Production in Brazil ceased on December 31, 2013, due to the introduction of more stringent safety regulations in the country. This marks the end of an era with the rear-engine Volkswagens manufactured (after the 2002 termination of its T3 successor in South Africa), which originated in 1935 with their Type 1 prototypes.

Volkswagen Type 2

Volkswagen Type 2

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Tuesday 9th May 1950

66 years ago

SEAT was founded with a total share capital of 600 million pesetas. The partners were the National Institute of Industry (INI) with 51% and six banks with 42%. FIAT held the remaining 7% and its manufacturing licence. Building of the factory started in Barcelona’s Zona Franca.

Seat's first model 1400 (1953)

Seat's first model 1400 (1953)

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Saturday 9th September 1950

66 years ago

Racer Victor Hemery (73) died at Le Mans, France. In 1904 he joined Automobiles Darracq S.A. as their chief tester and helped prepare cars to compete in that year's Gordon Bennett Cup. He drove a German Opel-Darracq to victory at Hamburg-Bahrenfeld. 1905 was his most successful year in his racing career. In August 1905, he drove a Darracq to victory in Circuit des Ardennes at Bastogne, Belgium, and in October 1905 he won the Vanderbilt Cup at Long Island, New York, beating Felice Nazzaro, Louis Chevrolet, and Ferenc Szisz. On 30 December 1905 he set a land speed record of 109.65 mph (176.46 km/h) in Arles, France, driving a Darracq. In 1951 Hémery was retroactively awarded the United States Driving Championship for 1905. He left Darracq to join Benz & Cie. in 1907 and in 1908 he won the St. Petersburg to Moscow race and finished second in the French Grand Prix. He scored another second-place finish behind Louis Wagner at the United States Grand Prix in Savannah, Georgia. On 8 November 1909 he set another new speed record at Brooklands of 202.691 km/h (125.946 mph) driving the famous "Blitzen Benz" (German for "Lightning Benz").[1] In 1910 his Benz team finished 1-2 at the United States Grand Prix, just 1.42 seconds behind winner David Bruce-Brown, the closest Grand Prix to date at the time. In 1911, Hémery won the Grand Prix de France at Circuit de la Sarthe in a FIAT S61.

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Thursday 20th March 1952

65 years ago

Fiat caused a sensation at the 1952 Geneva Show when it launched the 8V Berlinetta coupe with its exceptionally aggressive styling. The Fiat 8V got its name because at the time of its making Ford had a copyright on the term V8.They weren't a commercial success, but did well in racing. Apart from the differential the car did not share any parts with the other Fiats (but many parts were made by Siata and they used them for their cars). The 8V was developed by Dante Giacosa and the stylist Luigi Rapi. The engine was a V8 originally designed for a luxury sedan, but that project was stopped. The Fiat V8 had a 70 degree V configuration of up to a 1996 cc of volume, at 5600 rpm the engine produced 105 hp (78 kW) in standard form giving a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph). The engine was connected to a four speed gearbox. The car had independent suspension all round and drum brakes on all four wheels. Top management were preoccupied with more run of the mill projects, however, and only 114 of the high-performance coupés had been produced by the time the cars were withdrawn from production in 1954. Nevertheless, they continued to win the Italian 2-litre GT championship every year until 1959. 34 of the cars had a factory produced bodywork by the Reparto Carrozzerie Speciali ("Special Bodies Department"). Some cars had the bodywork done by other Italian coachbuilders. Carozzeria Zagato made 30 that they labelled "Elaborata Zagato". Ghia and Vignale also made bodyworks. Most were coupés, but some spyders were made as well. A one-off fiberglass-bodied example currently resides in the Centro Storico Fiat.

Fiat 8V Berlinetta Coupe

Fiat 8V Berlinetta Coupe

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Tuesday 6th January 1953

64 years ago

Earl S MacPherson was issued with a US patent for his vehicle wheel suspension system. He was the chief engineer of the Chevrolet Cadet project, a compact car intended to sell for less than $1,000. MacPherson developed a strut-type suspension for the Cadet, partly inspired by Fiat designs patented by Guido Fornaca in the 1920s (although the Cadet did not use a true MacPherson strut design) and a patent by Frank M. Smith of Stout Motor Car Corporation. After the Cadet was cancelled in May 1947, MacPherson left GM, joining the Ford Motor Company later that year. One of his first projects was to adapt his strut suspension design for the 1949 Ford Vedette, for Ford's French subsidiary. This became the first car to use the true MacPherson strut suspension. Ford's Poissy plant got off to a slow start with the Vedette, however, and the Fords Zephyr and Consul which captured the headlines at the 1950 London Motor Show have also been claimed as the first cars to appear "in mass production" with MacPherson struts.

Earl S MacPherson

Earl S MacPherson

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Sunday 14th March 1954

63 years ago

The Fiat experimental gas-turbine car, the Turbina, was given its first road test. Fiat was the second car manufacturer, after Rover, to introduce a car propelled by a gas turbine. The project took a long period of planning, studies began in 1948 and ended with a track test in 1954 on the rooftop track of the Lingotto factory. The engine had two compressor stages, one turbine stage, power turbine was single stage with a geared reduction. The declared power was 300 hp (220 kW) at 22,000 rpm, and the estimated top speed was approximately 250 km/h (160 mph). The Turbina held the record for lowest drag coefficient on an automobile (0.14) for 30 years. The concept was shelved due to high fuel usage and problems with overheating. The Fiat Turbina is today shown in the Automobile Museum of Turin

Fiat Turbina - 1954

Fiat Turbina - 1954

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Wednesday 14th April 1954

62 years ago

The handsome rear-engined Fiat Turbina experimental gas-turbine car was given its first road test on the famous rooftop test track at Fiat’s Lingotto factory. Public demonstrations followed later that month at Turin airport, making Fiat the second manufacturer, after Rover, worldwide to demonstrate a running gas turbine car.The engine had two compressor stages, one turbine stage, power turbine was single stage with a geared reduction. The declared power was 300 hp (220 kW) at 22,000 rpm, and the estimated top speed was approximately 250 km/h (160 mph). The Turbina held the record for lowest drag coefficient on an automobile (0.14) for 30 years.The concept was shelved due to high fuel usage and problems with overheating. The Fiat Turbina is today shown in the Automobile Museum of Turin.

Fiat Turbina - 1954

Fiat Turbina - 1954

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Tuesday 11th January 1955

62 years ago

Autobianchi, an Italian automobile manufacturer, was created jointly by Bianchi, Pirelli and Fiat, with a share capital of 3 million lira, 33% of which belonged to the Bianchi family. Autobianchi produced only a handful of models during its lifetime, which were almost exclusively small cars, with the biggest being the short-lived Autobianchi A111, a small family car. Autobianchis were priced higher than Fiat models of similar size and the brand was used by Fiat to test new and innovative concepts which later found their way into mainstream Fiat vehicles; these concepts included fibreglass bodies and front-wheel drive. Autobianchi was bought by the Fiat group and integrated into the operations of Lancia. The marque survived in Italy until the end of the Y10's production in 1995, but became extinct elsewhere when the model was rebranded as a Lancia in 1989.

Autobianchi A112

Autobianchi A112

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Wednesday 9th March 1955

62 years ago

The Fiat 600 was presented to the international press in the Exhibition Hall in Geneva. It was received with enthusiastic comments from journalists and experts who praised the adoption of ‘unorthodox, ingenious solutions’. Measuring only 3.22 m (10 ft 7 in) long, it was the first rear-engined Fiat. Capable of 68 mph, all 600 models had 3-synchromesh (no synchromesh on 1st) 4-speed transaxles.

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Tuesday 6th March 1956

61 years ago

The Renault Dauphine, designed mostly by Fernand Picard, was introduced at Le Palias de Chaillot in Paris, France. The rear-engined economy car was manufactured in a single body style – a three-box, four-door saloon – as the successor to the Renault 4CV; more than two million units were sold worldwide during its production run from 1956 until 1967. Along with such cars as the Volkswagen Beetle, Morris Minor, Mini and Fiat 500, the Dauphine pioneered the modern European economy car. Renault marketed variants of the Dauphine, including a sport model, theGordini, a luxury version, the Ondine, the 1093 factory racing model, and the Caravelle/Floride, a Dauphine-based two-door coupé and two-door convertible.

Renault Dauphine

Renault Dauphine

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Monday 18th June 1956

60 years ago

Driving a Fiat Abarth 750, with bodywork by Bertyone, Carlo Abarth set a whole series of speed and endurance records on the Monza Track. He broke the 24hour record, travelling 2,352.8 miles (3,743 km), at an average speed of 96.3 mph (155 km/h).

Fiat Abarth 750

Fiat Abarth 750

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Thursday 27th June 1957

59 years ago

SEAT 600 model production began. Made in Spain under licence by Fiat, it helped to start the economic boom, the Spanish miracle (1959–1973), that came at the end of the slow recovery from the Spanish Civil War. Technically, the car was basic and not very modern; it was a license-built Italian Fiat 600 of 1955 with a rear-engine/rear-wheel-drive layout. The engine was a 4-cylinder, water-cooled unit formerly with a displacement of 633 cc producing 19 hp (14 kW) and later 767 cc, yielding 21.5 hp (16 kW) at 4600 rpm. It was a relatively inexpensive vehicle (then 60,000 Spanish pesetas) and was the first car that came within the modest but rapidly growing economic means of most Spanish families from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. The vehicle has become an icon of the period. The SEAT company was born as a joint venture of the Spanish state holding agency National Institute of Industry, six Spanish banks and Fiat - almost all SEAT models up to 1982 were license-built Fiat based cars although the 1200/1430 Sport "Boca negra" and 133 were models created in-house by SEAT in the 1970s. Up to 797,319 SEAT 600s and 18,000 SEAT 800s were made until 1973. They were exported to Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Finland. The Fiat version enjoyed far less success in its homeland than the Spanish model, probably because the Italian market was more advanced than the Spanish at the time. Among the reasons for ending production were the thin and weak b pillars, which made seat belt installation very difficult.[1] The SEAT 600 was replaced by the far less successful SEAT 133, a modernized derivative of the SEAT 850 designed by SEAT.

Seat 600 (1961)

Seat 600 (1961)

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Thursday 4th July 1957

59 years ago

The Fiat 500 was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show. It was cheap and practical, measuring only 2.97 metres (9 ft 9 in) long, and originally powered by an appropriately sized 479-cc, 2-cylinder, air-cooled engine. The 500 redefined the term ‘small car’ and is considered one of the first city cars.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

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Wednesday 8th January 1958

59 years ago

John Duff (61), the only Canadian to win at Le Mans, who had been inducted in the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, died. He was one of only two Canadians who raced and won on England’s famous Brooklands Motor Course. In 1920, Duff began his racing career at Brooklands, a 2.6 mile long concrete track with concave banking. He drove a Fiat S.61, a 10-litre chain-driven car built in 1908. By August 1920, he was lapping in the same range as Henry Segrave, one of the great Brooklands and Grand Prix drivers of the 1920s. Driving the S.61, Duff won the 75 Long Handicap at Brooklands in May 1921 at a speed of 104.19 mph. He won the 100 Long Handicap at Brooklands’ mid-summer meeting, averaging 104.85 mph. Duff was the fastest on the track for both wins. He also lost a number of races where he was the fastest. As Duff’s driving skills improved, his reputation began to put him at a disadvantage with the handicappers. In the off-season, Duff bought another old Fiat, the 18-litre pre-war racer called “Mephistopheles”.In June, he took both Fiats to the Fanoe beach speed trials in Denmark. Duff set the fastest time of the meeting with a run at 165.9 km/h. He also took a class win with the S.61 at a speed of 149.2 km/h, the third fastest speed of the meeting. In 1922, Duff sold the S.61 and focused on making Mephistopheles faster and more reliable. Harry Ricardo made a set of aluminum pistons and raised the engine’s compression ratio. In May, Duff finished third in Brooklands’ 100 Mile Handicap. In its next race, one of the Fiat’s engine blocks detached from the crankcase. When the engine blew, the hood was torn off the car, just missing Duff’s head. Engine parts rained down on the track. Duff sold the car for scrap. 1922 saw the birth of Duff and Aldington, a dealership set up to sell the new Bentley car. Duff raced a Bentley at Brooklands. On August 28, he took a stock 3-litre model to the track where he made an attempt on the “Double Twelve” record (24 Hour runs were not allowed at Brooklands due to the noise). The car broke before he could achieve that goal but, in the process, Duff set new Class E world records for 1, 2, and 3 hours, 100 and 200 miles, and 100, 200, 300, and 400 km. Duff returned to Brooklands on September 27–28, driving both 12 hour shifts singlehanded to take the Double 12 [6] at an average of 86.52 mph, for a total distance of 2,082 miles (3,351 km). He also broke the Class E world records for 1 to 12 hours and all distances from 100 to 1,000 miles and 100 to 1,600 km. In total, he set 38 international class records. The Double 12 record was an absolute record, regardless of class. The event was depicted on the cover picture of the first edition of the Brooklands Gazette, published in July 1924. At Brooklands’ autumn meeting, Duff appeared at the wheel of J.L. Dunne’s old 21-litre Blitzen Benz. He lost the 100 Mile Handicap to Parry Thomas, despite lapping at 114.49 mph. Unable to stop the old car at the end of the last lap, Duff shot over the top of the banking, crashing through trees and a telegraph pole outside the circuit before finally coming to rest. Early in 1923, Duff learned of a new 24 Hour race to be held at Le Mans. He was the first entrant. W. O. Bentley, the founder and then-owner of Bentley Motors, thought it was madness and that no car would finish. In the face of Duff’s determination, he agreed to have the car prepared at the factory and let his test driver, Frank Clement, partner Duff. The Duff/Clement Bentley was one of the fastest cars, Duff setting the fastest lap at 9 mins 39 sec for the 10.726 mile lap.[9] Rough track conditions took their toll as a flying stone holed the fuel tank, forcing Duff to run back to the pits. As only the drivers could work on the cars, Clement had to bicycle back with a can of gas to power the car back to the pits. Despite the drama, Duff and Clement finished a strong fourth.[10] More importantly, W.O. Bentley, who only went over at the last minute, became hooked on Le Mans, the race that would make his cars famous. Duff then took his Bentley to the Spanish Touring Car GP at Lasarte. Leading with two laps to go, he was hit in the face by a stone thrown up by a lapped car. Duff crashed into a wall, injuring his jaw and breaking some teeth. Despite that, he won first place in the 3 litre class, as he had easily outlasted and outdistanced his competition. "In token of his gallant drive Duff was awarded the 3-litre trophy anyway, there being no other finishers in the class." By 1924, Bentley was now fully committed to Le Mans. Duff was still a private entrant, using one of the dealership’s cars. His car was prepared alongside the works entry using ideas Duff had come up with after the 1923 race. Partnered by Clement, in a race run in intense heat, Duff won handily, giving Bentley its first victory at Le Mans. In 1925, a carburetor fire ended Duff’s chances at Le Mans. On September 9–10, 1925, Duff went to the high-banked Montlhéry track, near Paris, for an attempt at the absolute 24 Hour Record. He had a special single-seater Weymann body on his Bentley and works driver Dudley Benjafield as his co-driver. In driving rain, they did the first 12 hours at 97.7 mph but missed the 12 hour record. At 18 ½ hours, the camshaft drive failed, ending the attempt. He was able to claim two world records: 1,000 Kilometres in 6 hrs, 23 mins, 55 secs and 1,000 miles in 10 hrs 15 mins 59 secs. On September 21, Duff returned to Montlhéry with Woolf Barnato as his co-driver. Driving on a damp track in heavy mist, they covered 2,280 miles in 24 hours, averaging 95.02 mph.They beat the previous record, held by the 9-litre Renault of Garfield and Plessier, by over 7 mph. Along the way, the 3-litre Bentley took 21 world records, including those for six and twelve hours, and 500, 1000, and 2000 miles. Looking for new challenges, Duff went to America in February 1926. He signed to drive a Miller sponsored by the Elcar Automobile Company in the Indianapolis 500, following the death of Herbert Jones, who was killed attempting to qualify for the race in the Elcar Special. In a race shortened to 400 miles by rain, Duff finished 9th. The next AAA championship event was on the 1.25 mile board track at Altoona, Pennsylvania on June 12. Duff finished 3rd in the 250 mile race, two laps down. The next race was on the Rockingham board track in Salem, New Hampshire. A puncture pitched Duff’s car sideways, throwing him from the car. "John Duff of Indianapolis, Ind., wrecked his machine and suffered a broken collar bone when his car crashed through the top rail and dropped clear of the track." Duff suffered painful bone and muscle injuries, and a concussion that affected his vision. Knowing that his competitiveness would be compromised, and having promised his wife that he would quit if he suffered another serious injury, Duff retired from racing.

John Duff's official 1926 Indianapolis '500' qualifying photo

John Duff's official 1926 Indianapolis '500' qualifying photo

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Sunday 9th February 1958

59 years ago

S G Allen won the Baskerville Grand Prix held in Hobart, Australia, driving a Fiat Special. Baskerville Raceway, the oldest continuously operating circuit in Australia, is set in a natural amphitheatre with spectators able to sit in their cars and view the entire circuit. The track is a tight and demanding 1.25 miles in length that includes a fast straight, off camber corner and a relatively blind corner at the top of a steep hill.

Baskerville Raceway

Baskerville Raceway

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Thursday 12th March 1959

58 years ago

Fiat introduced two new six-cylinder models, the 1800 and 2100, at the Geneva Motor Show. Powered by either a 1795cc with 75bhp or a 2054cc with 82bhp, they were the pinnacle of the Fiat range. These cars were the first Fiats to use torsion bar suspension at the front and the first since the war to use a straight-six engine.

Fiat 1800 - 1959

Fiat 1800 - 1959

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Monday 6th March 1961

56 years ago

Mini cabs were introduced by Carline in the City of London. Carline exploited a loophole in the 1869 Carriage Act, claiming that this only applied to cabs that “ply for hire” on the streets whereas their Anglias would operate by responding to calls phoned to the main office and then relayed to the driver. In their first week of operation the 12-strong Ford Anglia 105E’s fleet carried 500 passengers. Carline’s fares were two thirds of those of the black cabs and drivers promised greater service to London’s outer suburbs, where there was barely any provision for a licensed taxi “door-to-door” service. As a taxi, the Anglia was limited by having only two doors and so the main threat to the black cab took the form of a pair of imported minicabs that entered service that summer. Tom Sylvester ordered 25 black and white-liveried Fiat Multiplas, a four-door, long-wheelbase version of the famed 600 that had already established itself in Rome – despite being well under 14 feet long it was a genuine six-seater – but it was the fleet of Renault Dauphines run by the car rental firm Welbeck Motors that became the public face of the minicab. Welbeck’s managing director was an exceptionally publicity-conscious young law graduate named Michael Gotla. The media ran features about Gotla’s “£560,000 order” for 800 bright red Dauphine minicabs and how he planned to sell advertising space on the Renaults’ doors to garner an extra £75 per week. Such was the Welbeck minicab’s fame that there was even a Dinky model of the company’s Dauphine plus considerable press support. “The reaction of the hard-done-by travelling public to the coming of minicabs is – the more the merrier,” claimed The Times.

A Fiat Multipla minicab from 1962

A Fiat Multipla minicab from 1962

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Thursday 1st June 1961

55 years ago

The Fiat 600D and 1100 S special were introduced in the United States.

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Monday 1st March 1965

52 years ago

Ferrari contracted Fiat to produce its V-6 Dino engine.

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Saturday 13th March 1965

52 years ago

Vittorio Jano (73), famed Italian automobile designer of Hungarian descent from the 1920s through 1960s died. Jano was born Viktor János in San Giorgio Canavese, in Piedmont, to Hungarian immigrants, who arrived there several years earlier. He began at the car and truck company Società Torinese Automobili Rapid owned by G.B. Ceirano.[1] In 1911 he moved to Fiat under Luigi Bazzi. He moved with Bazzi to Alfa Romeo in 1923 to replace Giuseppe Merosi as chief engineer. At Alfa Romeo his first design was the 8-cylinder in-line mounted P2 Grand Prix car, which won Alfa Romeo the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925. In 1932, he produced the sensational P3 model which later was raced with great success by Enzo Ferrari when he began Scuderia Ferrari in 1933. For Alfa road cars Jano developed a series of small-to-medium-displacement 4-, 6-, and 8-cylinder inline power plants based on the P2 unit that established the classic architecture of Alfa engines, with light alloy construction, hemispherical combustion chambers, centrally located plugs, two rows of overhead valves per cylinder bank and dual overhead cams. In 1936 he designed Alfa Romeo 12C using V12 engine, the car was not successful and this is given as the reason for Vittorio Jano's resignation from Alfa Romeo at the end of 1937 In 1937, Jano moved to Lancia. Among his designs at Lancia was the Grand Prix effort. The car, the Lancia D50, was introduced in 1954, but 1955's loss of Alberto Ascari and the 1955 Le Mans disaster soured the company to GP racing. Ferrari took over the effort and inherited Jano that same year. Jano's contribution to Ferrari was significant. With the encouragement of Enzo's son, Dino, Jano's V6 and V8 engines pushed the older Lampredi and Colombo engines aside in racing. After Dino's death, Jano's "Dino" V6 became the basis for the company's first mid-engined road car, the 1966 206 Dino.[2] The V6 and V8 went on to displace Ferrari's V12 focus and their descendants continue to be used today. Like Enzo Ferrari, Jano lost his own son in 1965. He became gravely ill that same year and committed suicide in Turin.

Vittorio Jano

Vittorio Jano

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Wednesday 20th October 1965

51 years ago

Austrian-born Italian Carlo Abarth set the acceleration record over a quarter of a mile and over 500 metres on the Monza Track in Italy in a 105 bhp Fiat Abarth ‘1,000 Monoposto Record’ Class G. On the next day he set the same records for higher classes in a 200-cc Class E single-seater. It is said that he lost 30 kg (66 lbs) in weight at the age of 57 in order to get into the cockpit of the single-seater and drive his cars into the record book.

Carlo Abarth

Carlo Abarth

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Wednesday 22nd December 1965

51 years ago

Fiat signed a license agreement concerning manufacturing of intermediate-sized cars in Poland. As a result, starting in 1967,Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych (FSO) began production of the Fiat Polski 125p, a vehicle that remained in production until 1991.

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Sunday 16th January 1966

51 years ago

Racers Jose-Luis Pampyn and Rafael Taravilla were killed during the Monte Carlo Rally when their Fiat crashed between Ales and Uzes, France.

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Thursday 10th March 1966

51 years ago

The Fiat 124 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and won "Car of the Year" in 1967. It superseded the Fiat 1300 and Fiat 1500 and spawned variants including an estate (with stiffened springs and a revised final drive ratio), four-seater coupé, two-seater spider convertible and a slightly lengthened and more luxurious version, the 125, launched in early 1967. The 124 had a new 4 cylinder, 1197cc, 60 bhp engine. Approximately 1,543,000 saloons and estates were built in Italy, before it was replaced in Italy in 1974 by the Fiat 131/132 4-door saloon, although production in other countries continued. Worldwide around 4 million Fiat 124s were produced. A factory at Togliattigrad in the erstwhile USSR at one time produced 2000 Fiat 124 cars per day, named Lada 124. Other cars revealed at the 1966 Geneva Show included the AC 428 fastback (fixed head), the Lamborghini Miura and the Alfa Romeo 1300 Spider, driven by Dustin Hoffman to the strain of Simon and Garfunkel in the film The Graduate.

Fiat 124

Fiat 124

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Sunday 3rd April 1966

50 years ago

Battista "Pinin" Farina (72), founder of the Pininfarina coachbuilding company, and synonymous with some of the best-known classic Italian sports cars, died. At the age of 12, he began working beside his brother; five years later, when Giovanni set up his own shop, Stablimenti Industriali Farina S.A., to repair and build automobile bodies, young Pinin followed him as an apprentice. In spite of his youth, Farina was put in charge of design, which is how he came to meet Agnelli and win the older man's respect. His curiosity took him across the sea to America, where he met Henry Ford. He was offered a job with the Ford Motor Company, but chose to return to Italy, carrying with him an appreciation for the free enterprise system and the creativity it inspired. Farina took up racing, to the consternation of his wife and mother, and in 1921 drove his own car to victory in the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo race, beating prepared race cars and setting a course record that would stand for 11 years. It was during his racing days that he met a number of influential people, among them Vincenzo Lancia.In 1930, Farina decided the time had come to set out on his own. With the support of Lancia and a wealthy aunt, he opened a shop on Corso Trapani in Turin, and hired 100 employees. Already well known by his childhood nickname, he christened his new business Carrozzeria Pinin Farina, and chose as its emblem the familiar rectangle with a lower-case "f" (for "Farina") set off by red triangles in the upper left and lower right corners and topped with a crown.His plan was to construct custom bodies to order, as well as to produce small runs of six to a dozen examples of special models that he would sell directly to the public. Much of the carrozzeria's earliest work was on Italian chassis-those of his friend Lancia, as well as Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Isotta Fraschini and others. Farina's earliest designs were well-proportioned, conservative efforts in the Italian style, with heavy emphasis on unbroken horizontal lines. Intent on expanding the influence of the coachbuilder on chassis design, he persuaded Vincenzo Lancia that his radiators should be tilted back in the aerodynamic style then being pioneered in Europe. As his style developed, he would often be influenced by his peers, finding inspiration in Pontiac's Silver Streaks, Gordon Buehrig's Cord 812, and the Grand Prix cars of Mercedes-Benz. By 1939, he had 500 workers and was producing two cars per day. After World War II, when the Paris Auto Show barred him from participating as a citizen of a former Axis power, Farina and his son, Sergio, were audacious enough to drive two new cars, an Alfa Romeo Sport 2500 and a Lancia Aprilia cabriolet, to Paris, parking the cars outside the entrance to the motor show. "This devil Farina has opened his own personal anti-salon," grumbled the French press, but the crowds loved the cars.It was after the war that Farina was able to design what many consider his masterwork, and one of the most influential designs of all time, the Cisitalia 202 coupe of 1947. He had been involved in the design of the chassis from the beginning, and was able to realize many of his long-held dreams, including the horizontal radiator and seamless integration of the fenders with the body sides. Immortality arrived quickly; in 1951, the Museum of Modern Art in New York named the Cisitalia one of the ten great automotive designs of all time, and put the car on display. The company grew and prospered through the 1950s. Carrozzeria Pinin Farina now could not only design models for major manufacturers, but could build them in quantity as well. He created models based on the Lancia Aurelia, Alfa Romeo 1900 and 6C2500, Fiat 1100, and Maserati A6; he designed the 1952 Ambassador for Nash, and the Nash-Healey sports car as well. Designs for the British Motor Corporation and Peugeot flew off his drawing board. In 1958, he relocated the company to a larger site at Grugliasco, outside Turin. Of course, the single marque most closely associated with Farina is Ferrari, and it is probably inevitable that he and his fellow Italian, Enzo, would meet. Sergio has said that both men were too stubborn to visit the other's factories, and that their first meeting was at a restaurant midway between Turin and Maranello. Did Enzo really give Farina one minute to decide whether he would work for Ferrari or for Maserati? If that often-told story isn't true, it certainly could be. In 1961, by decree of the president of Italy, he was granted the last name Pininfarina, to recognize his industrial and social contributions to the nation. He turned control of the company over to his son, Sergio, and his son-in-law, Renzo Carli, and devoted his later years to travel, filmmaking, and cultural and charitable works. Among his many honors, he received the key to the city of Detroit

Battista

Battista "Pinin" Farina

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Thursday 10th August 1967

49 years ago

Italian industrialist and President of Fiat from 1946 to 1966, Vittorio Valletta (83) died. Valletta was a lecturer in economics before he joined Fiat in 1920. He became director in 1928 and CEO in 1939.

Vittorio Valletta

Vittorio Valletta

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Wednesday 17th January 1968

49 years ago

Ford officially unveiled ‘The new Escort: the small car that isn’t’. It was initially available as a two-door saloon with 1,098-cc or 1,298-cc engines. A Deluxe cost £635 9s 7d, which included purchase tax and delivery. A-high performance twin-cam model, costing £1,123, was also unveiled. The Escort replaced the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford's European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk. Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany. The Escort was a commercial success in several parts of western Europe, but nowhere more than in the UK, where the national best seller of the 1960s, BMC's Austin/Morris 1100 was beginning to show its age while Ford's own Cortina had grown, both in dimensions and in price, beyond the market niche at which it had originally been pitched. In June 1974, six years into the car's UK introduction, Ford announced the completion of the two millionth Ford Escort, a milestone hitherto unmatched by any Ford model outside the US. It was also stated that 60% of the two million Escorts had been built in Britain. In West Germany cars were built at a slower rate of around 150,000 cars per year, slumping to 78,604 in 1974 which was the last year for the Escort Mark I. Many of the German built Escorts were exported, notably to Benelux and Italy; from the West German domestic market perspective the car was cramped and uncomfortable when compared with the well-established and comparably priced Opel Kadett, and it was technically primitive when set against the successful imported Fiat 128 and Renault 12. Subsequent generations of the Escort made up some of the ground foregone by the original model, but in Europe's largest auto-market the Escort sales volumes always came in well behind those of the General Motors Kadett and its Astra successor. Just over two months after the launch of the saloon/sedan, Ford announced a three-door station wagon / estate version of their new Escort. The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired "Coke bottle" waistline and the "dogbone" shaped front grille – arguably the car's main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970. Less than two years after launch, Ford offered a four-door version of the Escort.Initially, the Escort was sold as a two-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the "De Luxe" model). The "Super" model featured rectangular headlights, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A two-door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided a 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer. The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter (190 mm) clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon.[11] A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969. Underneath the bonnet was the Kent Crossflow engine also used in the smallest capacity North American Ford Pinto. Diesel engines on small family cars were rare, and the Escort was no exception, initially featuring only petrol engines – in 1.1 L, and 1.3 L versions. A 940 cc engine was also available in some export markets such as Italy and France. This tiny engine remained popular in Italy, where it was carried over for the Escort Mark II, but in France it was discontinued during 1972. There was a 1300GT performance version, with a tuned 1.3 L Crossflow (OHV) engine with a Weber carburetor and uprated suspension. This version featured additional instrumentation with a tachometer, battery charge indicator, and oil pressure gauge. The same tuned 1.3 L engine was also used in a variation sold as the Escort Sport, that used the flared front wings from the AVO range of cars, but featured trim from the more basic models. Later, an "executive" version of the Escort was produced known as the "1300E". This featured the same 13" road wheels and flared wings of the Sport, but was trimmed in an upmarket, for that time, fashion with wood trim on the dashboard and door cappings. A higher performance version for rallies and racing was available, the Escort Twin Cam, built for Group 2 international rallying.[13] It had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 (RS denoting Rallye Sport) production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time.[14] The Ford works team was practically unbeatable in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and arguably the Escort's greatest victory was in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico (1598cc "crossflow"-engined) special edition road versions in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I's were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for "Belt Drive A Series". Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford's Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 L Pinto (OHC) engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant. The Escort was built in Germany and Britain, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. The Ford Escort was manufactured by Ford Europe from 1968 to 2004. The Ford Escort name was also applied to several different small cars produced in North America by Ford between 1981 and 2003. In 2014, Ford revived the Escort name for a car based on the second-generation Ford Focus sold on the Chinese market.

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Thursday 1st October 1970

46 years ago

The Citroën GS, part of a new wave of forward thinking European saloons that rode on a crest of a wave with cars such as the Alfasud and Fiat 128, was introduced in Paris. However, as appealing as the GS was to drive, thanks to its supple suspension and willing air cooled flat-fours that could be thrashed all day long, it was a flawed gem, and failed to sell significantly outside of France. Citroën brought its big car Hydropneumatic technology to the small car market with the GS, and that was central to its appeal, especially on undulaing roads. Looking like a scaled-down blend of DS and SM, and predicting the 1974 CX, motive power for this futuristic family saloon was, at first, a 1015cc air-cooled flat-four engine. But during its production run, the engine was expanded through to 1.3-litres. The dasboard and controls were highly eccentric and, naturally, there was self-levelling suspension. Built as 5-seat 4-door saloon or 5-door estate, the GS was produced in 1,896,742 examples between September 1970 and July 1981.

Citroën GS

Citroën GS

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Wednesday 24th March 1971

46 years ago

A VAZ 2102 based on a Fiat 124 became the first car produced at the Volga Automobile Works in Tol'iatt, USSR.

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Saturday 31st July 1971

45 years ago

Abarth & Co. the racing car and car maker founded by Carlo Abarth of Turin in 1949, was sold to Fiat. The acquisition was only made public by Fiat with a press release on 15 October. Under Fiat ownership, Abarth became the Fiat Group's racing department, managed by engine designer Aurelio Lampredi.[11] Abarth prepared Fiat's rally cars, including the Fiat 124 Abarth Rally and 131 Abarth. In December 1977, in advance of the 1978 racing season, the beforehand competing Abarth and Squadra Corse Lancia factory racing operations were merged by Fiat into a single entity named EASA (Ente per l'Attività Sportiva Automobilistica, Organization for Car Sports Racing Activities).[17] Cesare Fiorio (previously in charge of the Lancia rally team) was appointed director, while Daniele Audetto was sporting director; the EASA headquarters were set up in Abarth's Corso Marche (Turin) offices. The combined racing department developed the Lancia Beta Montecarlo Turbo Group 5 racing car (1980 and 1981 World Sportscar Championship winner) and the Lancia Rally 037 Group B rally car (which won for Lancia the 1983 World Manufacturers' Championship). On 1 October 1981, Abarth & C. ceased to exist and was replaced by Fiat Auto Gestione Sportiva, a division of the parent company specialized in the management of racing programmes that would remain in operation through to the end of 1999, when it changed to Fiat Auto Corse S.p.A. Some commercial models built by Fiat or its subsidiaries Lancia and Autobianchi were co-branded Abarth, including the Autobianchi A112 Abarth, a popular "boy racer" because it was lightweight and inexpensive. In the 1980s Abarth name was mainly used to mark performance cars, such as the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 125/130 TC. In 2000s, Fiat used the Abarth brand to designate a trim/model level, as in the Fiat Stilo Abarth. On 1 February 2007 Abarth was re-established as an independent unit with the launch of the current company, Abarth & C. S.p.a.,controlled 100% by Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A., the subsidiary of Fiat S.p.A. dealing with the production and selling of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The first model launched was the Abarth Grande Punto and the Abarth Grande Punto S2000. The brand is based in the Officine 83, part of the old Mirafiori engineering plant.[19] The CEO is Harald Wester. In 2015 Abarth's parent company was renamed FCA Italy S.p.A., reflecting the incorporation of Fiat S.p.A. into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that took place in the previous months.

Carlo Abarth and Company

Carlo Abarth and Company

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Monday 10th April 1972

44 years ago

Italian Fiat executive Oberdan Sallustro (56) was executed by Argentine Communist guerrillas 20 days after he was kidnapped in Buenos Aires. During the '60s and '70s, Argentina was a violent ideological battleground. Communist organizers resisted the oppression of the Fascist dictator Juan Peron. The era was famous for its "desaparecidos," the inexplicable disappearances of Peron's political opponents at the hands of his security forces. Unfortunately, it was not only Peron who was guilty of atrocities. Sallustro was very likely targeted as a member of Fiat because of Peron's strong love for Italy. A symbol of the established power, Sallustro fell victim to a battle over which he had no control. His murder was regarded as a tragedy. Communist revolutionaries tried to claim that his execution was "approved" by the people of Argentina, but the argument was hollow.

Oberdan Sallustro

Oberdan Sallustro

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Wednesday 1st November 1972

44 years ago

The Lotus Esprit concept car and the Fiat 126 were both unveiled at the Turin Motor Show.The 126 used much of the same mechanical underpinnings and layout as its Fiat 500 rear-engined predecessor with which it shared its wheelbase, but featured an all new bodyshell closely resembling a scaled-down Fiat 127. Engine capacity was increased from 594 cc to 652 cc at the end of 1977 when the cylinder bore was increased from 73.5 to 77 mm. Claimed power output was unchanged at 23 PS (17 kW), but torque was increased from 39 N·m (29 lb·ft) to 43 newton metres (32 lb·ft). The 594 cc engines were still available in early 1983 production. In Italy, the car was produced in the plants of Cassino and Termini Imerese until 1979. By this time 1,352,912 of the cars had been produced in Italy. The car continued however to be manufactured by FSM in Poland, where it was produced from 1973 to 2000 as the Polski Fiat 126p.

Fiat 126

Fiat 126

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Sunday 26th November 1972

44 years ago

The Bertone X1/9, a badge-engineered version of the discontinued Fiat X1/9, was introduced at the Birmingham (UK) Motor Show.

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Wednesday 20th December 1972

44 years ago

Adolfo Orsi (84), Italian industrialist, known for owning the Maserati marque, died. In the late 1920s he started his own business as scrap iron, steel mill and farm equipment manufacturer, eventually employing hundreds of people from Modena and the surrounding area. Orsi soon started pursuing interests outside of the company, including running the trolley company of Moden, and being involved with the local soccer team, Modena F.C. in its successful early years. With his brother, Marcello, he was also involved in a Fiat dealership, the Fiat A.M. Orsi (1935). In 1937 Orsi bought the financially troubled Maserati company, employing his son, Omar Orsi, as managing director; three of the Maserati Brothers were retained on ten-year contracts on the engineering team (1937–47). In 1940 Orsi moved the Maserati headquarters from Bologna to Modena, near the premises of his steel plants and spark plug manufacturing company, Fonderie Riunite. In 1949, with Maserati temporarily closed for restructuring, a steel mill workers' strike action following Orsi's refusal to hire communist workers resulted in a series of hard encounters on 9 June 1950, leaving a few protesters dead.[5] When the foundries were reopened in 1952, Orsi decided to sell the company, splitting it with his siblings. Adolfo kept the Maserati car manufacturing business, his brother Marcello kept the foundries, and their sister Ida Orsi took charge of the motorbike manufacturing (the Società Anonima Fabbrica Candele Accumulatori Maserati, 1953–60). The 1950s proved to be a successful decade for Maserati. Orsi hired his brother in-law Alceste Giacomazzi as new general director, and succeeded in luring Ferrari employee Alberto Massimino to Maserati (1944–52), as well as hiring the Argentine driver ace Juan Manuel Fangio (1953). Fangio went on winning the Formula One World Championship for Maserati in 1954 and 1957. In 1954 Orsi made a lucrative deal with Juan Perón when the motor racing enthusiast president of Argentina placed a large order for machine tools to be imported in his country. However, following the Revolución Libertadora and the exile of Perón, receiving payments for the order turned out to be problematic. Orsi encountered similar issues with the Spanish government, and the ensuing financial problems resulted in Maserati entering administration.[6] The remnants of Maserati was handled by the creditor, Credito Italiano. Orsi remained active within the management of Maserati until 1968, when he decided to sell his remaining shares to Citroen, who at the time was a major stakeholder.

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Wednesday 6th June 1973

43 years ago

Production of the first Polski Fiat 126 constructed from Italian parts was built at the FSM car factory in Bielsko-Biała. It cost about 69 000 zlotys (an average monthly salary at that times was about 3,500 zlotys).

Polski Fiat 126

Polski Fiat 126

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Wednesday 1st January 1975

42 years ago

Iveco was created by FIAT manager and mechanical engineer Bruno Beccaria through the merger of five companies operating in Italy, France and Germany; Fiat Veicoli Industriali (located in Turin), OM (Brescia), Lancia Veicoli Speciali (Bolzano), Unic (Trappes) and Magirus (Ulm).

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Thursday 1st May 1975

41 years ago

The Vauxhall Chevette, Britain's first production small hatchback, which was similar in concept to the Italian Fiat 127 and French Renault 5, went on sale, prices starting at £1,593. It was Vauxhall's version of the "T-Car" small car family from Vauxhall's parent General Motors (GM). The family included the Opel Kadett in Germany, the Isuzu Gemini in Japan, the Holden Gemini in Australia, the Chevrolet Chevette in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina, and in the U.S. and Canada was re-badged as Pontiac Acadian/Pontiac T1000.

Vauxhall Chevette

Vauxhall Chevette

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Friday 8th August 1975

41 years ago

The last Fiat 500 was produced.

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Friday 3rd September 1976

40 years ago

The Ford Fiesta was formally launched. It was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127 (although shorter than some other rivals, like the Peugeot 104, Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo), but with an overall length shorter than that of the Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in December 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta belonged to General Motors when the car was designed, as they had used the name for the Oldsmobile Fiesta in the 1950s; however, it was freely given for Ford to use on their new supermini. Ford's marketing team had preferred the name Bravo, but Henry Ford II vetoed it in favour of the Fiesta name. The motoring press had begun speculating about the existence of the Bobcat project since 1973, but it was not until December 1975 that Ford officially announced it as the Fiesta. A Fiesta was on display at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in the UK in January 1977. Mechanically, the Fiesta followed tradition, with an end-on four-speed manual transmission of the Ford BC-Series mounted to a new version of the Ford Kent OHV engine, dubbed "Valencia" after the brand new Spanish factory in Almussafes, Valencia, developed especially to produce the new car. Ford's plants in Dagenham, England, and Saarlouis and Cologne (from 1979) in Germany, also manufactured Fiestas. To cut costs and speed up the research and development, the new powertrain package destined for the Fiesta was tested in Fiat 127 development "mules". Unlike several rivals, which used torsion bars in their suspension, the Fiesta used coil springs. The front suspension was of Ford's typical "track control arm" arrangement, where MacPherson struts were combined with lower control arms and longitudinal compression links.The standard rear suspension used a beam axle, trailing links and a Panhard rod, whilst an anti-roll bar was included in the sports package. All Mk1 Fiestas featured 12-inch wheels as standard, with disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear.[3] Ford paid particular attention ease of service, and published the times required to replace various common parts.UK sales began in January 1977, where it was available from £1,856 for the basic 950 cc-engined model.[7] It was only the second hatchback mini-car to have been built in the UK at this stage, being launched a year after the Vauxhall Chevette, but a year before the Chrysler Sunbeam and four years before the Austin Metro. The millionth Fiesta was produced in 1979.[1] The car was initially available in Europe with the Valencia 957 cc (58.4 cu in) I4 (high compression and low compression options), and 1,117 cc (68.2 cu in) engines and in Base, Popular, L, GL (1978 onward), Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. The U.S. Mark I Fiesta was built in Saarlouis, Germany but to slightly different specifications; U.S. models were Base, Decor, Sport, and Ghia, the Ghia having the highest level of trim.[8] These trim levels changed very little in the F iesta's three-year run in the USA, from 1978 to 1980. All U.S. models featured the more powerful 1,596 cc (97.4 cu in) engine, (which was the older "Crossflow" version of the Kent, rather than the Valencia) fitted with a catalytic converter and air pump to satisfy strict Californian emission regulations), energy-absorbing bumpers, side-marker lamps, round sealed-beam headlamps, improved crash dynamics and fuel system integrity as well as optional air conditioning (a/c was not available in Europe). In the U.S. market, the Ford Escort replaced both the Fiesta and the compact Pinto in 1981. At the beginning of the British government's Motability scheme for disabled motorists in 1978, the Fiesta was one of the key cars to be available on the scheme. A sporting derivative (1.3 L Supersport) was offered in Europe for the 1980 model year, using the 1.3 L (79 cu in) Kent Crossflow engine, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced a year later, which featured a 1.6 L version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added to the exterior and interior. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones resulting in the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. With a quoted performance of 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 9.3 seconds and 105 mph (169 km/h) top speed, the XR2 hot hatch became a cult car beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. For the 1979 auto show season, Ford in conjunction with its Ghia Operations in Turin, Italy, produced the Ford Fiesta Tuareg off-road car. It was touted in press materials as "a concept vehicle designed and equipped for practical, off-road recreational use." Minor revisions appeared across the range in late 1981, with larger bumpers to meet crash worthiness regulations and other small improvements in a bid to maintain showroom appeal ahead of the forthcoming second generation. In 1978, the Fiesta overtook the Vauxhall Chevette as Britain's best-selling supermini, but in 1981 it was knocked off the top spot by British Leyland's Austin Metro and was still in second place at the end of 1982. The Fiesta has sold over 16 million units over 6 generations making it one of the best selling Ford marques behind the Escort and the F-Series.

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Sunday 14th August 1977

39 years ago

The world’s longest ever rally, the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney rally, started in Covent Garden, London. The race was won at Sydney Opera House on 28 September by the British team of Andrew Cowan, Colin Malkin and Michael Broad in a Mercedes 280E. They were followed home by team-mate Tony Fowkes in a similar car. Paddy Hopkirk, this time driving a Citroën CX, took the final podium spot. The 1977 London-Sydney Marathon was the first-ever rally to have a competing truck, several years ahead of the Paris Dakar. It had two former Grand Prix drivers; several front-line international rally drivers; Fiat entered a team of prototype diesels - the first time for a diesel works-rallycar on an international event. There were works-factory teams at one end, and privateers at the other in everything from a fibreglass kit-car, the Magenta; the first time a kit-car had ever been accepted into an international rally; a Mini Clubman and even a Mini Moke. In between, there were Range Rovers, Jeeps, Peugeots, Mercedes of various descriptions, Ford Escorts, a Mazda rotary-engined car, Datsuns, Volvos, Saabs, even a mobile-home camper van. Crews came from around the world to take part… professionals, experts, adventurers, more than one crew were on their first-ever rally, including a couple who literally drove straight from a dealer’s showroom direct to the start-ramp. It was also the first big-time rally for a Subaru 4WD.There were several instances of cheating that would have made Dick Dastardly proud, including a crew that left London and then flew their car to India, cheekily trying to check in at the time-control table set up outside the hotel in Madras without even bothering to remove the car still strapped to the back of a truck, having come straight from the airport. The route took in mountains, rivers wild enough for a Datsun to float off downstream, and several deserts – the Australia section was a marathon drive in its own right. When the ship arrived late into Freemantle, rather than cancel sections to get the rally back on schedule, it was decided to make up the lost time by simply running it non-stop – for seven days and nights.

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Tuesday 9th January 1979

38 years ago

Just 33 months after its launch, the millionth Ford Fiesta was built at Ford's Cologne (Germany) facility, breaking all previous European production records. The Fiesta was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" (not to be confused with the subsequent rebadged Mercury variant of the Ford Pinto) and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972, just after the launch of two comparable cars – the Fiat 127 and Renault 5. The Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini segment, and was the smallest car made by Ford. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with overall length shorter than that of Ford's Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in late 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta (meaning "party" in Spanish) belonged to General Motors, used as a trim level on Oldsmobile estate models, when the car was designed and was freely given for Ford to use on their new B-class car. After years of speculation by the motoring press about Ford's new car, it was subject to a succession of carefully crafted press leaks from the end of 1975. A Fiesta was on display at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in January 1977. Its initial competitors in Europe, apart from the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, included the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Chevette. Chrysler UK were also about to launch the Sunbeam by this stage, and British Leyland was working on a new supermini which was launched as the Austin Metro in 1980.

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Tuesday 26th October 1982

34 years ago

The Bertone X1/9, a badge-engineered version of the discontinued Fiat X1/9, was introduced at the Birmingham (UK) Motor Show. With a transverse engine and gearbox in a mid-mounted, rear-wheel drive configuration, the X1/9 was noted for its excellent handling, lightweight-removable hardtop, front and rear-storage compartments — and for being designed from its conception to meet the late 60s U.S. safety regulations.

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Thursday 24th February 1983

34 years ago

The Peugeot 205 was launched. Shortly after, the similar sized Fiat Uno narrowly pipped it to the European Car of the Year award, but ultimately (according to the award organisers) it would enjoy a better image and a longer high market demand than its Italian competitor.

Peugeot 205

Peugeot 205

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Friday 22nd July 1983

33 years ago

The Ford Orion was introduced in Europe. Over 3.5 million Orion’s, which was in essence a saloon version of the Ford Escort, were sold throughout the car's 10-year life. In the early 1980s, Ford's model line-up and image was changing, reflecting shifting patterns in the new car market across Western Europe at this time, as front-wheel drive gradually became more popular than rear-wheel drive and hatchbacks began to eclipse traditional saloons and estates. The company's older saloon line-up was replaced mainly by hatchbacks, starting with the Escort MK3 in 1980 and the new Sierra (which replaced the Cortina) in 1982. By 1985, even the top-of-the-range Granada would offer a hatchback bodystyle, with the saloon and estate models not debuting until the early 1990s, while a booted version of the Sierra was finally launched in 1987. The Orion was designed to fill the market demand for a traditional four-door saloon, which had been absent from the Escort range since the end of MK2 production in 1980, and also in larger cars by the demise of the hugely popular Cortina in 1982. The Orion looked similar to a contemporary Escort at the front apart from the different grille design, but the rear of the Orion had a long flat boot (making the car a three-box saloon design) rather than a hatchback or estate body like the Escort. Although the Orion's length was similar to that of the contemporary Ford Sierra (then only available as a hatchback) it had more rear legroom and a larger boot. This concept was similar to the Volkswagen Jetta, the saloon version of the Golf hatchback which had been on sale since 1979. Ford initially offered the Orion in only GL and Ghia trim levels, missing out on the lower specification levels available on the Escort, as well as the basic 1100cc engine. Only 1300 cc and 1600 cc CVH engine options were available from launch (though with both carburettor and fuel injection options on the 1.6 Ghia). A lower specification L model was introduced in 1984 as was the option of a 1.6 diesel engine on L and GL models. The Orion Ghia 1.6i standard features included central locking, sunroof, sport front seats, electric windows, rear head restraints, tachometer and an information binnacle informing the driver when the vehicle needed maintenance. All of these features were rare equipment on a small family car in the 1980s, giving the Orion upmarket pretensions. The Orion 1.6i shared an engine with the Escort XR3i and offered similar performance and handling without the insurance unfriendly tag that the XR badge started to command in the late 1980s due to its popularity with car thieves - and it was also less frequently targeted by thieves than the Escort XR3i or RS Turbo. The 1.6i was topped by a luxury limited edition called the 1600E in the autumn of 1988, the 1600E name harking back to the Mark II Ford Cortina 1600E from 20 years earlier, as both were considered to be well-equipped saloon cars with decent performance for the working person. The Orion 1600E was available in black, white and metallic grey and had RS alloys, wood cappings on the dashboard and doors, and grey leather seats. Only 1,600 were made, of which 1,000 had leather trim. With the facelift in 1986, Ford brought the styling and engineering of the Orion closer to the Escort's and lower-specification models crept into the range along with equipment levels being brought together between the two cars, and helped Orion sales increase further. The Orion also gained the new 1.4 "lean burn" petrol engine which was added to the Escort at this time. The success of the Orion across Europe, particularly in Britain (where it was among the top 10 selling cars every year from 1984 to 1990), was followed by several other manufacturers launching saloon versions of their popular hatchbacks. By 1986, General Motors had launched a saloon version of its Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra hatchback, which was sold as the Vauxhall Belmont on the British market. Austin Rover, on the other hand, made use of a Honda design for its new Rover 200 Series saloon, which was launched in 1984 and gave buyers a booted alternative to the Maestro hatchback, although with a totaly different platform, as the true booted variant of the Maestro was the larger and more upmarket Montego. The Orion was launched around the same time as the Fiat Regata, saloon and estate versions of the Ritmo (Strada in Britain), although the Regata was aimed further upmarket at cars like the Ford Sierra. The Orion was a strong seller in Britain, peaking as the seventh best selling car in 1987 and 1988 with over 70,000 sales.

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Wednesday 9th April 1986

30 years ago

The French government ruled against the privatisation of leading French carmaker Renault. The privatisation of Renault, France's second largest carmaker to PSA Peugeot, has remained a highly debated issue since the 1986 decision. In 1994, the government sold shares of Renault to the public for the first time at 165 francs per share. The sale dramatically increased the company's revenue, but the French government remained the majority shareholder. Between 1996 and 1997, the market for cars in Europe grew precipitously, with the most marked increases in France. Renault, often scorned for its "public sector" policies, failed to capitalise on the growing markets. Instead foreign competitors like Volkswagen and Fiat took advantage. In 1996, Renault lost over $800 million. Renault and Peugeot were the two weakest of Europe's Big Seven carmakers. Economists blame the French carmakers lack of success on its protectionist policies, and more specifically on the unwillingness of PSA Peugeot and Renault to merge, a manoeuvre that would radically lower production costs for both auto-making giants. The question remains whether or not the government will fully privatise Renault. With economic boundaries in Europe falling rapidly, the days of France's nationally run car company may be numbered.

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Thursday 6th November 1986

30 years ago

The destitute Alfa Romeo company approved its takeover by fellow Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat, shortly after rejecting a takeover bid by the Ford Motor Company. Alfa Romeo was founded by Nicola Romeo in 1908, and during the 1920s and 1930s produced elegant luxury racing cars like the RL, the 6C 1500, and the 8C 2900 B. Alfa Romeo saw its peak business years during the 1950s and 1960s, when Alfa Romeo chairman Giuseppe Luraghi oversaw a company shift toward more functional and affordable cars. The Giuletta, the Spider, and the Giulia series received enthusiastic responses from consumers, and Alfa Romeo flourished. However, during the 1970s, the company fell out of touch with a changing market, and, like many other automobile companies, failed to meet the demands of recession-era consumers who preferred fuel efficiency and reliability to luxury and design. By the mid-1980s, Alfa Romeo was bankrupt, and Fiat took over the company, assigning it to a new unit called Alfa Lancia Spa, which opened for business in 1997.

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Sunday 14th August 1988

28 years ago

Enzo Ferrari, founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team, and subsequently of the Ferrari automobile marque, died in Maranello, Italy, aged 90. Enzo grew up with little formal education. At the age of 10 he witnessed Felice Nazzaro's win at the 1908 Circuit di Bologna, an event that inspired him to become a racing driver. During World War I he was assigned to the third Alpine Artillery division of the Italian Army. His father Alfredo, as well as his older brother, Alfredo Jr., died in 1916 as a result of a widespread Italian flu outbreak. Ferrari became severely sick himself in the 1918 flu pandemic and was consequently discharged from Italian service.Following the family's carpentry business collapse, Ferrari started searching for a job in the car industry. He unsuccessfully volunteered his services to FIAT in Turin, eventually settling for a job as test-driver for C.M.N. (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali), a Milan-based car manufacturer which redesigned used truck bodies into small passenger cars. He was later promoted to race car driver and made his competitive debut in the 1919 Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb race, where he finished fourth in the three-litre category at the wheel of a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder C.M.N. 15/20. On November 23 of the same year, he took part in the Targa Florio but had to retire after his car's fuel tank developed a leak. The prancing horse emblem was created when Italian fighter pilot Francesco Baracca was shot down during World War I. Baracca gave Enzo Ferrari a necklace with the prancing horse on it prior to takeoff. Baracca was tragically shot down and killed. In memory of his death, Enzo Ferrari used the prancing horse to create the emblem that would become the world famous Ferrari shield. However the world first saw this emblem on an Alfa Romeo as Ferrari was still tied up with Alfa Romeo. It was not until 1947 that the shield was first seen on a Ferrari. This was the birth of Ferrari. In 1924 Ferrari won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, a success that encouraged Alfa Romeo to offer him a chance to race in much more prestigious competitions. Deeply shocked by the death of Antonio Ascari in 1925, Ferrari turned down the opportunity to focus instead on the management and development of the factory Alfa cars, eventually building up a team of over forty drivers, including Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari. Ferrari himself continued racing until 1932, before he left Alfa Romeo to found Scuderia Ferrari. Alfa Romeo agreed to partner Ferrari's racing team until 1933, when financial constraints forced them to withdraw their support – a decision subsequently retracted thanks to the intervention of Pirelli. Despite the quality of the Scuderia drivers, the team struggled to compete with Auto Union and Mercedes. Although the German manufacturers dominated the era, Ferrari's team achieved a notable victory in 1935 when Tazio Nuvolari beat Rudolf Caracciola and Bernd Rosemeyer on their home turf at the German Grand Prix. In 1937 Alfa Romeo decided to regain full control of its racing division, retaining Ferrari as Sporting Director. Unhappy with the arrangement, Ferrari left and founded Auto-Avio Costruzioni, a company supplying parts to other racing teams. Although a contract clause restricted him from racing or designing cars for four years, Ferrari managed to manufacture two cars for the 1940 Mille Miglia, driven by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni. With the outbreak of World War II in 1943, Ferrari's factory was forced to undertake war production for Mussolini's fascist government. Following Allied bombing of the factory, Ferrari relocated from Modena to Maranello. At the end of the conflict, Ferrari decided to start making cars bearing his name, and founded Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947. The team's open-wheel debut took place in Turin in 1948 and the first win came later in the year in Lago di Garda. The first major victory came at the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a Ferrari 166M driven by Luigi Chinetti and (Baron Selsdon of Scotland) Peter Mitchell-Thomson. In 1950 Ferrari enrolled in the newly-born Formula 1 World Championship and is the only team to remain present since its introduction. Ferrari won his first Grand Prix with José Froilán González at Silverstone in 1951. The first championship came in 1952, with Alberto Ascari, a task that was repeated one year later. In 1953 Ferrari made his only attempt at the Indianapolis 500 Miles. In order to finance his racing endeavours in Formula One as well as in other events such as the Mille Miglia and Le Mans, the company started selling sports cars. Ferrari's decision to continue racing in the Mille Miglia brought the company new victories and greatly increased public recognition. However, increasing speeds, poor roads, and nonexistent crowd protection eventually spelled disaster for both the race and Ferrari. During the 1957 Mille Miglia, near the town of Guidizzolo, a 4.0-litre Ferrari 335S driven by Alfonso de Portago was traveling at 250 km/h when it blew a tyre and crashed into the roadside crowd, killing de Portago, his co-driver and nine spectators, five of whom were children. In response, Enzo Ferrari and Englebert, the tyre manufacturer, were charged with manslaughter in a lengthy criminal prosecution that was finally dismissed in 1961. Many of Ferrari's greatest victories came at Le Mans (9 victories, including six in a row 1960–65) and in Formula One during the 1950s and 1960s, with the successes of Juan Manuel Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorn (1958), Phil Hill (1961) and John Surtees (1964). By the end of the 1960s, increasing financial difficulties as well as the problem of racing in many categories and having to meet new safety and clean air emissions requirement for road car production and development, caused Enzo Ferrari to start looking for a business partner. In 1969 Ferrari sold 50% of his company to FIAT, with the caveat that he would remain 100% in control of the racing activities and that FIAT would pay sizable subsidy till his death for use of his Maranello and Modena production plants. Ferrari had previously offered Ford the opportunity to buy the firm in 1963 for US$18 million but, late in negotiations, Ferrari withdrew once he realised that he would not have been able to retain independent control of the company racing program. Ferrari became joint-stock and Fiat took a small share in 1965 and then in 1969 they increased their holding to 50% of the company. (In 1988 Fiat's holding rose to 90%). Following the agreement with FIAT, Ferrari stepped down as managing director of the road car division in 1971. In 1974 Ferrari appointed Luca Cordero di Montezemolo as Sporting Director/Formula One Team manager. (Montezemolo eventually assumed the presidency of Ferrari in 1992, a post he held until September 2014). Clay Regazzoni was deputy champion in 1974, while Niki Lauda won the championship in 1975 and 1977. After those successes and another title for Jody Scheckter in 1979, the company's Formula One championship hopes fell into the doldrums. In 1981 Ferrari attempted to revive his team's fortunes by switching to turbo engines. In 1982, the second turbo-powered Ferrari, the 126C2, showed great promise. However, Gilles Villeneuve was killed in May, and team mate Didier Pironi had his career cut short in a violent end over end flip on the misty back straight at Hockenheim in August after hitting the Renault of Alain Prost. Pironi was leading the driver's championship at the time; he would lose the lead as he sat out the remaining races. The Scuderia went on to win the Constructors Championship in at the end of the season and in 1983, but the team would not see championship glory again until Ferrari's death in 1988. The final race win for the team he saw was when Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto scored a 1-2 finish at the final round of the 1987 season in Australia.

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari

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Monday 27th November 1995

21 years ago

Giancarlo Baghetti died of cancer in Milan, Italy aged 60. Baghetti was selected for F1 by the Federazione Italiana Scuderie Automobilistiche (FISA), a coalition of independent Italian team owners who acquired a new Ferrari 156 for the 1961 French Grand Prix at Reims. And won. He was promoted to the works Ferrari line-up for 1962, but took just two points finishes, 4th at the Dutch Grand Prix and 5th at the Italian Grand Prix, as Ferrari was outclassed by the British teams. After the ill-fated switch to ATS in 1963, he accepted to race the Scuderia Centro Sudís outdated BRM P57. A 7th place at the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix and three more one-off drives in the following years, all at the Italian Grand Prix, would see his career in F1 fading away. He then achieved some success in the European Touring Car Championship with Alfa Romeo and Fiat Abarth, but retired from driving after a huge accident at the 1968 Monza F2 Lottery. He went on as a journalist and photographer in motorsport and fashion.

Giancarlo Baghetti

Giancarlo Baghetti

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Monday 4th December 1995

21 years ago

Rudolf Hruska (80), Austrian automobile designer and engineer, most famous for his design of various Alfa Romeo cars, died. At Alfa Romeo (1954-59) he assisted Orazio Satta Puliga in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, before joining Simca and Fiat (1960-67), working on the Simca 1000 and Fiat 124/Fiat 128. Hruska then designed the Alfa Romeo Alfasud and established a new plant in Pomigliano d'Arco near Napoli (1967-73). He worked in a design firm in Arese (1974-80) and at I.DE.A Institute in Torino.

1963 Simca 1000

1963 Simca 1000

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Sunday 31st March 1996

20 years ago

Italian Dante Giacosa (91), an automobile designer whose small, economical cars, particularly the popular Fiat 500, helped motorize Italy in the 1950s, died. He was the head of design for Fiat for more than 40 years and managed the creation of some beloved cars, led by the Topolino. Maybe now that Fiat is returning to the U.S. through Chrysler in the form of the Cinquecento, he will be more broadly recognized. Giacosa was born in 1905 and took his studies at the Polytechnic in Turin before arriving at Fiat in 1928, following officer candidate school for the Italian armed services. The monstrous S.p.A. was under control of Giovanni Agnelli, with Cesare Momo as engineering chieftain, but Giacosa's true first boss at Fiat was Carlo Cavalli, a notable character in his own right: Trained as a lawyer, descended from a long line of Italian justices and barristers, but enthralled with engineering first. One of Giacosa's first projects was a highly advanced, multi-articulated road tractor for the military called the Pavesi. Its basic concept (much) later was revisited as the M561 Gamma Goat, evaluated by the U.S. Army during the post-Korea era, at first with Corvair power. That's probably the least-well-remembered vehicle with whose design Giacosa was ever associated. The best is unquestionably the Topolino, which came after he'd worked on Fiat rarities such as the C Cabriolet and the SS sports roadster, along with a record-shattering aero engine. By this time, chronic illness had forced Cavalli's retirement, elevating Giacosa to the post of lead engineer at Fiat. The company's lead product, at that time, was the 508 sedan, known widely as the Balilla. Italy was in the grip of Fascism by then, the early Thirties. Rome decreed that Fiat should build a new, miniature car, its price set at 5,000 lire, less than half the cost of a new Balilla. In hindsight, the original Fiat 500 shows that Giacosa's mind was envisioning eventual fundamentals of monocoque design principles, the Topolino's bodywork serving as part of its load-bearing structure and its tiny engine hung ahead of the radically light-drilled, dual-spar frame. The first 500 also incorporated a very basic form of independent front suspension, not what most might have expected from a Thirties car constructed to meet a government-dictated cheapness objective. Of course, it's fair to say that the like-minded regime in Germany was also building innovative, inexpensive cars around the same time, and that both self-declared nationalist dynasties collapsed spectacularly. Their best automotive engineers, on the other hand, prospered anew. Post-war, Giacosa redefined the light Fiat more than once. The first true, fresh effort was the Fiat 1400 sedan of 1950, which, as rebodied by Pinin Farina, became the Cisitalia. The addition of 500cc made it a much more usable engine. Money issues limited the Topolino to rear-wheel drive, but Giacosa insisted on transverse front drive for the Autobianchi Primula of 1964 and then, the Fiat 128 of 1969, a bigger-than-Mini car (with MacPherson struts) that beat both the Honda Civic and the first Volkswagen Golf to market. A true giant of European auto design, Giacosa died in 1996.

Dante Giacosa

Dante Giacosa

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Wednesday 26th February 1997

20 years ago

Giuseppe Bertone, called "Nuccio", famed automobile designer and constructor died aged 82. After racing Fiats, O.S.C.A.s, Maseratis, and Ferraris, Bertone moved to construction, agreeing to build his first car, a series of 200 MGs, at the 1952 Turin Motor Show. He drew attention at the Paris Motor Show that year with an Abarth concept, and was chosen to design the replacement for the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante. These so-called BAT (Berlina Aerodinamica Technica) cars used the Alfa Romeo 1900 Sprint chassis. Two years later at Turin, Bertone introduced the Storm Z concept based on a Dodge chassis alongside his latest BAT concept and a prototype of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, which would become the company's main product for the coming years. Bertone built more than 31,000 bodies in 1960, including Fiat 850 Spiders, Fiat Dinos, Simca 1200S coupes, the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and Lamborghinis. His 100th design was a special Ford Mustang, introduced at the 1965 New York Auto Show and commissioned by Automobile Quarterly.

Giovanni Bertone (left) with his son Giuseppe

Giovanni Bertone (left) with his son Giuseppe "Nuccio" Bertone (right)

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Saturday 26th June 2004

12 years ago

The largest parade of Fiat cars was one of 220 Fiat 126s arranged by the 126 Fan Slovakia club in Zvolen, Slovakia.

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Monday 18th April 2005

11 years ago

Danilo Elia and Fabrizio Bonserio began a great adventure from Fiat's Lingotto headquarters in Turin, with a 1973 Fiat 500. The 16,000 km journey from Turin and Beijing, symbollically linking the next two Olympic capitals. Driven for 100 days by Danilo Elia and Fabrizio Bonserio, the old and tiny car was followed along its journey by newspapers and television from all over the world. The route Danilo Elia They started their epic journey at the Fiat headquarters at Lingotto, on the roof top-test track made famous in the film, The Italian Job and left Turin by major and minor roads and they went to Verona, Treviso and over the border into Slovenia at Gorizia. They continued through Eastern Europe, Hungary and Ukraine to the Russian border. In Russia they passed through Volgograd and Astrakhan, and into Kazakhstan at the delta of the Volga. They will followed the northern coast of the Caspian Sea and on to the Aral Sea. They crossed Kazakhstan to the former capital of Almaty and then turned West into Kyrgyzstan and then Uzbekistan. Once they reach Tashkent, they visited the legendary cities of Bukhara, Samarcand and ancient Khiva, and then headed straight for Turkmenistan and the capital Ashkhabad, where they turned East once again, along the ancient Silk Road into China, After the long journey which ended in July, Elia wrote a book entitled La bizzarra impresa.

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Tuesday 6th September 2005

11 years ago

Italy's Fiat SpA announced it would launch a new version of its Punto, Fiat's most popular model. The company had sold more than 6 million Puntos since launching the car in 1993. In 1997 the Punto became the best-selling car in Europe, with 600,000 models sold.

Fiat Punto

Fiat Punto

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Friday 5th May 2006

10 years ago

The Fiat 500 was announced. Redesigned by Roberto Giolito it was in essence a modern copy of Dante Giacosa’s 1957 original rear-engined Fiat 500 or ‘Nuova 50’. Within 3 weeks of the 500’s launch (2007), the entire year’s production of 58,000 had sold out. The millionth Fiat 500 rolled off the production line on 19 November 2012.

Fiat 500 (2007)

Fiat 500 (2007)

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Sunday 9th July 2006

10 years ago

The Fiat 500 Club Italia, an organization formed in appreciation of the iconic 500 ("Cinquecento" in Italian) car produced by the automaker Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino), earned what the Guinness Book of World Records called the world's largest parade of Fiat cars, between Villanova d'Albenga and Garlenda, Italy with a record-high number of participants (754 teams) gathered to make up a parade of 500 Fiats.

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Tuesday 25th July 2006

10 years ago

Italian car maker Fiat and India’s Tata Motors announced they had signed an agreement for a joint-venture in India to make passenger vehicles, engines and transmissions for Indian and overseas markets.

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Thursday 5th April 2007

9 years ago

The one millionth Fiat Panda rolled off the production line. A city car from the Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat, it is now in its third generation. The first generation Fiat Panda was introduced in 1980, and was produced until 1986, when it underwent several changes. From 1986 until 2003, it was produced with only a few changes. They are now sometimes referred to as the "old Panda". The second generation, launched in 2003, is sometimes referred to as the "New Panda" or "Nuova Panda" (in Italian), and was the European Car of the Year in 2004. The third generation debuted at Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011 and assembled in Italy at Pomigliano d'Arco. Fiat has sold over 6.5 million Pandas globally, with more than 4.5 million being the first series Panda.

Fiat Panda

Fiat Panda

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Tuesday 17th April 2007

9 years ago

"Fiat Veicoli Commerciali", a subsidiary for FCA Italy's (formerly Fiat Group Automobiles) light commercial vehicles and their passenger variants , was rebranded as "Fiat Professional". It is only present in the EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions; the Fiat Automobiles brand is used in the Latin America region. Since 2013, certain Fiat Professional models are reengineered and marketed by Chrysler (FCA US) for the NAFTA region under the Ram Trucks brand.

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Wednesday 4th July 2007

9 years ago

50 years to the day after Giacosa’s famous car debuted, the redesigned Fiat 500 was introduced in Turin, with 250,000 people in attendance. It was also displayed in the squares of 30 cities throughout Italy. The new 500 was based on the mechanical elements of the popular Fiat Panda, but modified significantly. Though its retro styling evoked its iconic predecessor, the strong performance and extensive safety features (including seven airbags) were all its own.

Fiat 500 (2007)

Fiat 500 (2007)

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Friday 10th August 2007

9 years ago

Founder of the French automotive brand Alpine, Jean Rédélé (84), died. He created the brand Alpine in 1955. The first model was the A106; the 106 is a reference to the power pack of the Citreon 4CV of the 1060 series. In 1971 Alpine won its first European rally title. In 1973 Alpine was the first world champion of rallying with 155 points followed by Fiat (89) and Ford (76).

Alpine A106 Mille Milles 1955 (First Alpine)

Alpine A106 Mille Milles 1955 (First Alpine)

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Tuesday 16th December 2008

8 years ago

In Italy Fiat Group SpA for the first time shut down most of its Italian plants for a month, laying off nearly 50,000 workers for an extended holiday as it copes with the precipitous drop in demand for new cars.

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Monday 30th March 2009

8 years ago

U.S. President Barack Obama issued an ultimatum to struggling American automakers General Motors (GM) and Chrysler: In order to receive additional bailout loans from the government, companies needed to make dramatic changes in the way they ran their businesses. The president also announced a set of initiatives intended to assist the struggling U.S. auto industry and boost consumer confidence, including government backing of GM and Chrysler warranties, even if both automakers went out of business. In December 2008, GM (the world’s largest automaker from the early 1930s to 2008) and Chrysler (then America’s third-biggest car company) accepted $17.4 billion in federal aid in order to stay afloat. At that time, the two companies had been hit hard by the global economic crisis and slumping auto sales; however, critics charged that their problems had begun several decades earlier and included failures to innovate in the face of foreign competition and issues with labor unions, among other factors. President Obama’s auto task force determined that Chrysler was too focused on its sport utility vehicle (SUV) lines and was too small a company to survive on its own. In his March 30 announcement, Obama gave Chrysler a month to complete a merger with Italian car maker Fiat or another partner. Shortly before its April 30 deadline, Chrysler said it had reached agreements with the United Auto Workers union as well as its major creditors; however, on April 30, Obama announced that Chrysler, after failing to come to an agreement with some of its smaller creditors, would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, then form a partnership with Fiat. The move made Chrysler the first big automaker to file for bankruptcy and attempt to reorganize since Studebaker did so in 1933. As for General Motors, according to the conditions Obama announced on March 30, the auto giant had 60 days to undergo a major restructuring, including cutting costs sharply and getting rid of unprofitable product lines and dealerships. Over the next two months, GM said it would shutter thousands of dealerships and a number of plants, as well as phase out such brands as Pontiac. Nevertheless, on June 1, 2009, GM, which was founded in 1908, declared bankruptcy. At the time, the company reported liabilities of $172.8 billion and assets of $82.3 billion, making it the fourth-biggest U.S. bankruptcy in history.

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Sunday 26th April 2009

7 years ago

Chrysler and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union reached a tentative deal that met government requirements for the struggling auto manufacturer to receive more federal funding. As part of the deal, the UAW agreed to let Chrysler reduce the amount of money it would pay toward healthcare costs of its retired workers. The month before the deal was announced, President Barack Obama issued an ultimatum to Chrysler that it must undergo a fundamental restructuring and shrink its costs in order to receive future government aid. Obama also gave Chrysler a month to complete a merger with Italian car maker Fiat or another partner. Although Chrysler reached a deal with the UAW as well as its major creditors shortly before the one-month deadline, Obama announced on April 30 that Chrysler, after failing to come to an agreement with some of its smaller creditors, would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, then form a partnership with Fiat. The move made Chrysler the first big automaker to file for bankruptcy and attempt to reorganise since Studebaker did so in 1933.

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Thursday 30th April 2009

7 years ago

Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection after overnight talks broke down with a small group of the company's creditors. Canada's government said it would take an ownership stake in Chrysler in exchange for more than $2 billion in loans, under a sweeping North American rescue plan. Ottawa and Washington demanded the Detroit company partner with Fiat as a condition for funding.

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Monday 4th May 2009

7 years ago

In Germany, Sergio Marchionne, the boss of Italy's Fiat, drummed up support in Berlin for audacious plans to snap up General Motors' European arm and merge it with the bankrupt Chrysler to create a new global auto giant. Germany's economy minister said Fiat Group SpA wanted to take over GM's Opel unit without running up debt and would preserve the three main German assembly plants if successful.

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Wednesday 10th June 2009

7 years ago

Italy's Fiat became the new owner of the bulk of Chrysler's assets, closing a deal that saved the troubled US automaker from liquidation and placed the new company in the hands of Fiat's CEO.

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Wednesday 23rd December 2009

7 years ago

Italian carmaker Fiat became a majority owner of Serbian car manufacturer Zastava with a 67% stake.

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Thursday 11th February 2010

7 years ago

Italy's Fiat SpA and Russian automobile company Sollers announced a $3.3 billion joint venture to produce up to 500,000 vehicles per year in Russia in a bid to become the country's second-largest car maker.

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Friday 19th November 2010

6 years ago

The Los Angeles Auto Show opened. Fiat, now associated with Chrysler, introduced its tiny Fiat 500 to the US public. Fiat sales in America began in January 2011, following a 27-year absence.

The old Fiat 500 (1966 version) and the new 500.

The old Fiat 500 (1966 version) and the new 500.

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Monday 10th January 2011

6 years ago

Italian auto giant Fiat said it had increased its stake in Chrysler to 25% from 20% as part of a deal signed after the iconic US brand emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

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Saturday 4th June 2011

5 years ago

Italy-based Fiat offered $125 million to buy the Canadian government's stake in Chrysler Group LLC as it moved swiftly to strengthen its control of the US automaker.

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Monday 19th November 2012

4 years ago

The 1 millionth Fiat 500, a Lounge model ‘dressed’ in elegant three-layer Bianco Perla (white pearl) exterior paint, rolled off the Fiat Auto Poland production line. This, like every '500', was a unique car. In fact, thanks to more than 500,000 possible combinations of exterior colorus, interiors, engines, equipment and accessories, it is difficult to find two identical Fiat 500 vehicles.

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Sunday 10th February 2013

4 years ago

A pair of British adventurers smashed two world records driving 10,300 miles from Cape Town to London - in just 10 days, 13 hours and 30 minutes. Philip Young and Paul Brace shaved more than three days off the previous record for the route. They averaged 43mph along the route and covered more than 1,000 miles per day in a tiny 875cc Fiat Panda

Philip Young and Paul Brace

Philip Young and Paul Brace

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Thursday 2nd January 2014

3 years ago

Italy-based Fiat secured full ownership of Chrysler in a $4.35 billion agreement.

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Thursday 8th January 2015

2 years ago

A British stunt driver set a new world record for parallel parking after spinning his Fiat 500 into a space that had just 7.5cm spare. Alastair Moffat performed the stunt at the Autosport Show in Birmingham in front of a packed crowd of 2000 people. The driver had originally set the record with 8.6cm to spare but was removed from the top spot after rival stunt driver Han Yue set the record in a MINI with just 8 cm.

Alastair Moffat

Alastair Moffat

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Saturday 9th January 2016

1 years ago

Maria Teresa de Filippis, the first woman to compete in a world championship Formula One Grand Prix, passed away at the age of 89. The Italian made three Grand Prix starts for the Maserati team in 1958, with a best result of 10th at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. She also failed to qualify for the 1958 and 1959 Monaco Grands Prix, her second attempt being in a Behra-Porsche, and she walked away from the sport after the death of team boss Jean Behra later that year. Naples-born De Filippis began racing after her brothers bet that she wouldn’t be fast enough, the result being that she won her first event in a Fiat 500. She went on to enjoy success in sports cars, before getting her F1 chance with Maserati.De Filippis returned to a motorsport role in 1979 when she joined the Club Internationale des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1 for retired drivers, eventually going on to become its honorary president. She was also a founding member of the Maserati Club. Only one other woman has recorded an F1 race start. The late Lella Lombardi, also Italian, started 12 Grands Prix between 1974 and ’76.

Maria Teresa de Filippis

Maria Teresa de Filippis

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