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Coachwork by Designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi Coachwork by Ghia
Formerly the Property of Paul Farago and Paul Lazaros
The story of this extraordinary Italian sports car begins on May 8, 1953, when a bare 8V chassis was shipped from the Fiat factory to Carrozzeria Ghia. Upon arrival, the necessary steps were taken to transform the rolling chassis into the first Supersonic.
As the first of 15 examples completed, this 8V features a number of distinct differences from those that followed, especially with regards to materials, trim, and detailing. In typical Italian fashion, the first 8V Supersonic succeeds in combining the height of contemporary style with the classical tradition of understated elegance. While the overall design was exuberant, the color scheme selected was rather restrained – the fine alloy bodywork was painted burgundy and the interior was upholstered in tan leather with piping to complement the exterior finish.
After leaving Ghia’s workshop, the Supersonic remained in Continental Europe for some time, leading some to believe that it was used as a display at the season’s various European auto shows. Two photographs from 1953 confirm that the bodywork was not initially fitted with its distinctive tubular bumpers, but acquired them at some time prior to 1955. Apparently, these early photographs were reproduced for publicity purposes and distributed to potential customers at the 1953 Paris Auto Show.
When the Supersonic arrived in the US, Farago was there to collect his new car and, when the time came for its long-anticipated Motor City debut, he was also there to welcome a swarm of admirers. For many American enthusiasts, it was not only the first glimpse of the new Savonuzzi design, it was the first chance they had to see the new Fiat sports car, with its compact V-8 engine and fully independent suspension.
In the months following its arrival, the show- stopping Supersonic was featured in several automotive publications, including All the World’s Cars, 1954 Cars, and Motor Trend. The Ghia-bodied wonder also spent time in Chrysler’s design department, where Exner and his team of stylists examined the peculiar new Fiat.
It was also around this time that Paul Lazaros first became involved with the history of this remarkable car.
During the early 1950s, Mr. Lazaros worked for Farago as an engineer and machinist. With a background in automobiles and keen eye for design, it is understandable that he would be attracted to the bespoke Italian sports car. In 1955, after admiring the car for some time, Mr. Lazaros struck a deal with Farago.
Throughout the 1950s, Mr. Lazaros displayed the Supersonic at a number of local meets, receiving great fanfare and many Best of Show honors. One notable exhibition occurred in 1956 at the prestigious Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where the 8V was displayed alongside a Ferrari 250 Europa GT and a Bertone-bodied Aston Martin.
After many years driving and showing the Supersonic, Mr. Lazaros retired the car from regular use and stored it in his garage, where it remained for over 55 years. Other than short drives around the neighborhood, the 8V all but disappeared from the public eye, and its existence was known to only a select few.
Throughout his long career in the automotive engineering and machining business, Mr. Lazaros had the opportunity to work on countless projects and was fortunate enough to own a number of exciting Italian sports cars, including a Lancia B20 and a Maserati Ghibli. However, over the years, no other car was ever able to match the appeal and emotional connection of the 8V and, for obvious reasons, the Supersonic was his favorite car and most prized possession.
In 2010, event organizers urged Mr. Lazaros to display his prized 8V at the prestigious Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance, where it was honored and displayed in a special exhibit. After much consideration and soul searching, Mr. Lazaros decided to part with his beloved Supersonic and sold the wonderfully original car at the 2011 Gooding & Company Scottsdale Auctions.
The current caretaker, a New York collector with a passion for fine Italian automobiles, has served as an appreciative and sympathetic steward over the past two years, sharing this wonderful automobile with a wider audience. In August 2011, the Supersonic was invited to take part in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was displayed in the Post-war Preservation class. Hugely impressed with its rich history and marvelous untouched character, the judges selected this car as the class winner from an impressive field of contenders.
It is safe to say the Supersonic has led an unusually protected and secluded existence. At the time of cataloguing, the odometer displayed a mere 26,700 km – just under 17,000 miles. This astonishing figure is supported by the car’s highly original condition, minimal use, and airtight provenance.
The paint appears to be 80% original and possesses a lovely, uniform appearance, with all the wonderful traces that come with decades of continuous use and interaction with its long-term caretaker.
The Supersonic is, quite literally, original down to the wheels and tires. The Borrani knock-offs still wear the factory-installed Pirelli Cinturato tires, and the unique polished wheel discs are the only original set known to have survived intact.
The cockpit is just as complete and original as the exterior and remains in fine order throughout. The leather upholstery wears its great age beautifully and has a wonderfully inviting feel. In addition, the carpets, headliner, rubber, and hardware have a consistent patina. Almost every component on the car, from the Securit glass to the Marchal lamps, was fitted at the factory and remains undisturbed.
The engine bay is largely untouched, and its tidy appearance is consistent with the low mileage. The instantly recognizable V-8 engine is the correct, original matching-numbers unit and is topped with twin Weber DCZ3 carburetors (serial no. 131 and 132) as well as a unique air-intake system. Elsewhere, one finds the factory-delivered data plates, Marelli equipment, original fasteners, and correct factory finishes.
Another interesting feature is a decal affixed to the windscreen that displays the crest of Racing Club 19. Founded in 1947 by a team of Italian drivers, Racing Club 19 is known for campaigning sports and racing cars, 8Vs included, in major European events throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. While this car does not have a competition record, Farago was a member of the racing team and proudly affixed the insignia to his new Italian sports car.
As would be expected of such a well-kept automobile, all of the important accessories are present, including the original key and spare tire, as well as the tool kit and jack stowed in the factory-delivered canvas pouches.
Largely unseen since the mid-1950s, the 8V is an ideal entry for the most premier concours and has already demonstrated its potential with a prominent win at the highly competitive Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. With appropriate preparation, the Supersonic could even serve as a sensational mount for a variety of exclusive classic tours and rallies.
After spending time in the presence of this car, it is hard not to be captivated by its extraordinary appearance, magnificent patina, and impeccable history. Each and every detail exudes character and speaks to the single-minded dedication that has helped to preserve this 8V in its remarkable state.
Cars like this one-of-a-kind Supersonic shape automotive culture and define the spirit of historic preservation. For the collector with an appreciation for design, fine engineering, and exceptional original character, this magnificent 8V is a prize like no other.