The Only Two Surviving Fiat 600 Multipla Mirafioris Drop By Jay Leno’s Garage
Jay Leno’s classic car collection is one of the biggest and most impressive out there. And it includes an amazing amount of rare vehicles. However, Leno is missing the weird and somewhat anonymous Fiat 600 Multipla Mirafiori, an MPV-style hauler built in just five units in 1958. Only two survived and they’re owned by the same enthusiast and he paid Leno a visit to showcase them.
A quick look at today’s automotive offerings and you’ll notice that almost all passenger cars are front-engined, while most sports cars come with a mid-engined configuration. The Porsche 911 is the most known exception from this rule, having its engine mounted above the rear axle. The 911 isn’t the only rear-engined car on the market, the Smart ForTwo and ForFour, Renault Twingo, Tesla Model S, and Tata Nano have similar configurations, but all of them are part of the minority. However, it wasn’t always like this.
Decades ago, rear-engined vehicles were significantly more popular. The first notable rear-engined car dates back to 1886, when Karl Benz launched the Patent-Motorwagen. The concept gained more traction in the 1930 and remained somewhat popular until the 1980s. Mostly found in small, affordable cars, the layout allowed for the rest of the vehicle to be used for passengers and luggage. It was also preferred by many carmakers since the drivetrain can installed easily at the factory compared to front-wheel-drive layout where the driven wheels also steer the car.
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During the brass era of automobiles, from about 1900 to 1915, pretty much every car was a luxury car. Before Ford’s 1908 Ford Model T put the nation on wheels starting in 1907, automobiles were primarily seen as playthings for wealthy folks. Even Fiat, who’s known these days for more pedestrian economy cars and family vehicles, started out as a luxury manufacturer.
Fiat is one of the pioneers of the automotive age. The company built its first car in 1889. In addition to its forays into racing, Fiat was known for its luxury cars, and was one of the top importers of chassis into the U.S. Like most high-end cars of the time, early Fiats were sold as bare chassis and had coachbuilt bodies installed to the owners’ specifications. The bodies alone could cost as much as $4,000 in some cases. The first car to blend Fiat’s racing and luxury disciplines was the 60 HP, built from 1903 to 1907. The model range featured a pressed steel chassis and a massive 60 horsepower four-cylinder engine. The 50-60 evolved into the Tipo 6, like this example recently shown and sold at Pebble Beach. Popular with affluent American customers, the Tipo 6 was one of the most luxurious cars of its time.
Fiat was one of the best-known European manufacturers during the brass era. The company produced a range of vehicles, but it was the staggeringly expensive big-bore models that captured the attention of the public, and they were owned by royalty and dignitaries. The cars were low-production vehicles, with less than 100 built in most cases, and very few of them have survived the ensuing century.
Continue reading for my full review of this special Fiat.
It’s not often that a car becomes so indelibly tied to an automaker that the two become nearly synonymous, but that’s the case with the Fiat 500. While the new, third-generation 2007 Fiat 500 was created in 2007, its predecessor was first launched a half-century prior. Also known as the “Cinquecento” in Italian, the second-generation, or “Nuova” (“New”) 500 was originally billed as affordable, practical, small car for scooting around town. More importantly, it’s the model that marked the rebirth of Fiat and the beginning of recovery for post-war Italy. Nearly 4 million examples of the vehicle were produced over the course of its 18-year production, and today, it remains a true icon of European motoring.
Through the years, the 500 saw a few different body styles and minor equipment changes, but the basic formula remained unaltered from the original. The result was an enormous success for Fiat, and today, it remains part of the automaker’s identity, providing inspiration for the current model with the same combination of nippy performance, small packaging, big practicality and eye-catching looks.
Simply put, the Nuova 500 was, and continues to be, Fiat’s most famous car of the people.
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The Fiat S76 is the poster child for the "there’s no replacement for displacement" crowd. Developed over a hundred years ago to break the land speed record, its engine develops no less than 300 horsepower and 2,000 pound-feet of torque, and those aren’t even the most hair-raising figures. The Fiat S76 achieved those specifications using a four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 28.4-liters – which is over three times more than Bugatti Veyron or Dodge Viper powerplants.
Duncan Pittaway, the car’s new owner, and Lord March are two brave souls for having the courage to ride in the four-wheeled monster up the Goodwood Hill recently. Only two S76s models were built in 1911, and after finding the remains of one chassis, Pittaway mated it with the surviving engine from the other car. Nicknamed "The Beast of Turin" for obvious reasons, the S76 is probably the most insane vehicle that was ever built by Fiat, or any Italian carmaker for that matter.
Despite having been developed over a century ago, the humongous engine features multi-spark ignition, four valves per cylinder and a single overhead cam, and it’s simply amazing that it doesn’t disintegrate the chassis upon acceleration. The footage above is both breathtaking and terrifying, especially for the poor duck that almost gets run over at the 1:43 minute mark. If this behemoth of a vehicle doesn’t sound like the end of the world, then I don’t know what does. Perfect for showing up at an "Earth Day" picnic.
When the 8V Coupe was first introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1952, the car world collectively stood up and took notice. Developed in secret, the 8V, or Otto Vu, was Fiat’s first eight-cylinder vehicle, sporting a body and chassis that was both beautiful and groundbreaking. It was a watershed moment for the marque, boosting Fiat’s image to the same level as the other major Italian automakers. Part of this was the way in which the 8V catapulted Fiat onto the racing scene, garnering multiple top finishes and eventually going on to become the Italian 2-liter GT Champion in 1954.
In total, only 114 examples were created, 34 of which were classified under the Reparto Carrozzerie Speciali, or “Special Bodies Department,” which saw coachbuilders like Zagato, Pininfarina, Ghia and Vignale hammering out custom designs that further increased the car’s desirability and aesthetic appeal. Only nine 8V Vignale Coupes were built, including the turquoise and blue example you see here.
This hyper-rare, historically significant sports car was meticulously restored above and beyond show quality, taking multiple awards in various concours and driving events, including Best in Class at the 2002 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
It recently went up for sale at the Amelia Island Auction as a pristine example of one of the world’s most valuable collector cars, and while it failed to exchange hands, its quality and attention to detail both inside and out is a fantastic example of handmade craftsmanship from a bygone era.
Click Continue Reading to learn more about this 1953 Fiat 8V Vignale Coupe.
The FIAT Torpedo is a car that made history in 1939. Throughout World War II, the Torpedo chauffeured some of the worst guys to ever come out of Western Europe. Guys like Germany’s Adolph Hitler, Italy’s Benito Mussolini and Spain’s General Franco. After the war, the open air four door FIAT was used by the first prime ministers of Italy, Einaudi and De Nicola and remained in the garage at the Quirinale palace until 1963. The Torpedo is going to the highest bidder at the International Auction House, COYS in Monaco. This 1960’s limousine would be the perfect addition to any WWII nut’s collection, starting bid: $377,000.