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Coachwork by Vignale
One of Only Nine Vignale-Bodied Fiat 8Vs | Multiple Concours Award WinnerRichard Egizi, Woodland Hills, California (acquired 1958)Paul Forbes, California (acquired from the above in November 1992)Bruce Milner, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in Ocotober 2000)Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in 2012)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2002 (First in Class)Cavallino Classic, Classic Sports Sunday at Mar-A-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida, January 2013Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island, Florida, March 2013 (Best in Class)McCall Motorworks Revival, Monterey, California, August 2013Quail Motorsports Gathering, Carmel Valley, California, August 2013 (Best in Class)St. James Concours d’Elegance, London, September 2013Concours d’Elengance Paleis Het Loo, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, June 2014
Developed in secret, Fiat’s spectacular 106 Series 8V, Otto Vu, made its debut at the 1952 Geneva Motor Show, where it was immediately greeted with accolades from all who caught a glimpse of the sophisticated two-liter sports car. The 8V was an appropriate new vehicle for one of the great names in motor racing history, and it provided Fiat with a proud postwar competition legacy befitting the esteemed marque. As its name suggested, the 8V was equipped with an aluminum V-8 engine, ensuring that it was a serious contender in the popular two-liter class.
The aesthetic styles of the 8V were equally impressive with distinctive bodies produced in-house and a remarkable variety of stunning custom coachwork created by Italy’s most distinguished carrozzerie. Zagato, Ghia, Pinin Farina, and Vignale all created special series bodies for the 8V, including a number of dramatic one-of designs.
Although the 8V is best remembered for its unique engine and avant-garde styling, the chassis was arguably the most advanced aspect of the car. Featuring fully independent suspension and innovative construction techniques, the 8V possessed a chassis that made the contemporary Alfa Romeos, Maseratis, and Ferraris seem dated. As a result, the 8V offered phenomenal handling, yet retained a degree of comfort unheard of in such a short-wheelbase car.
The 8V made its mark as a very fast two-liter sports car driven by well-heeled private owners who, throughout the 1950s, campaigned their cars with success in the great road races, hill climbs, and rallies of Continental Europe. Only 114 of these marvelous Italian gems were produced from 1952 to 1954, yet they maintain a reputation as the most important sporting Fiats produced after WWII.
Of the 114 8Vs, 58 were factory-bodied cars (the first six chassis were built by Siata for Fiat) designed by Rapi and built in two series (30 Series 1 single headlight cars and 28 Series 2 cars with slanting quad headlights). In addition, there were three chassis shipped from Torino with no records as to their eventual destination. Pininfarina bodied one car. Zagato outfitted 21 cars of its own design and an additional six coupes known as Elaboratas, essentially a factory Rapi body modified by Zagato to include the typical double-bubble roofline, a feature common to many Zagato cars. Ghia completed 15 cars, and included in this total are six futuristic Supersonic cars with their space age design features. Vignale built a total of 10 cars comprising one convertible and nine coupes, each distinctly different. This particular car, 000051, is one of the nine Vignale-bodied coupes.
Alfredo Vignale’s cars had a reputation of being masterfully designed, thanks to head designer Giovanni Michelotti, and exquisitely finished to the uncompromising standards of Sig. Vignale, who was routinely seen in the workshop laboring on his creations himself. According to 8V authority Tony Adriaensens, 000051 was built in mid-1953 and featured a wraparound windshield and rear light, and a conventional trunk. It is artfully elegant and sporting in its details.
The initial ownership of 8V 000051 has not been uncovered, but it is thought to have spent its earliest years in France, arriving in the US around 1957. Soon thereafter, the coupe came into the ownership of Richard Egizi, who purchased the car from a French restaurant owner in Encino, California around 1958. Mr. Egizi eventually stored the Fiat as a project car behind his family’s home in Woodland Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Nearly 30 years passed before Mr. Egizi retained well-known 8V historian Anton Krivanek to assess the car for restoration. In 1992, news of the 8V’s existence began to circulate locally and the car was sold, still unrestored, to collector Paul Forbes. In 2000, Mr. Forbes sold the 8V to enthusiast Bruce Milner of Los Angeles. The Fiat was then entrusted to classic car restoration specialists Auto Restorations of Christchurch, New Zealand, for a multi-thousand-hour, concours-level restoration led by Alan Stanton and Allan Wylie.
Upon disassembly, the restorers were pleased to uncover samples of the car’s original finishes that had never been exposed to light or the elements. As a result, the Fiat’s original two-tone blue metallic paint scheme, leather, and carpets were re-created in their original shades and finished to its as-delivered appearance. The interior, in particular – the work of New Zealand upholsterer George Lee – is nothing short of stunning with the original square stitch pattern of the seats faithfully redone. The leather-covered dash – with its compound curves – is, in itself, a work of art.
When finished, the stunningly detailed Vignale Coupe made its concours debut at the 2002 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where Fiat 8V cars were featured in a dedicated class. 000051 earned top honors among seven other Otto Vus with a well-deserved First in Class award. Following its win on the Monterey Peninsula, the Coupe was proudly displayed in Mr. Milner’s world-class collection of sports cars for the next decade.
Finally in 2012, 000051 was sold to a Southern California collector who exhibited it at The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Quail Motorsports Gathering, and the exclusive concours at St. James Palace in London. During this period, the car was reunited with the engine believed to have been installed when new, numbered 000084. The engine was prepared and re-installed in the 8V’s immaculate engine bay, further enhancing the Fiat’s desirability. In late 2013, the 8V was acquired by the consignor.
When new, Fiat 8Vs were at the cutting edge of technology, the top of their racing class, and were the chosen platform for one-off coachbuilt masterpieces. Exceedingly beautiful and truly unique, 8V Vignale 000051 is ready to please its next owner on top-tier driving events, at the world’s finest concours or as the centerpiece of a deserving collection.