Lot 346

Monterey 2023

1953 Fiat 8V Berlinetta by Zagato


$2,900,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Engine No.
104.000 000031
US Title
  • One of the most important and unique examples of the Zagato-bodied Otto Vu
  • Believed to be the only Zagato berlinetta equipped with the uprated Tipo 104.004 competition engine
  • One of approximately 32 total examples clothed by Zagato, including 25 berlinettas
  • One class win and one 3rd-in-class finish in period rally competition
  • Benefits from 30 years of long-term preservation by a former owner
  • Comprehensive three-year restoration by Dutch specialists completed in 2009
  • Class winner at the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza; exhibited at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance; 2nd in Class, 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance; numerous awards at regional concours d’elegance
  • Successful three-time finisher of the Mille Miglia Storica

Fiat’s groundbreaking Otto Vu commands a unique devotion among collectors today, having been built with a jewel-like V-8 engine, a Siata-fabricated chassis, and arresting factory coachwork. Among the 114 examples built, small quantities were coachbuilt by Ghia, Vignale, and Zagato, the latter of whom created a lightweight berlinetta that went on to achieve numerous victories in the Italian Sports Car Championship.

Boasting factory competition upgrades and a uniquely configured Zagato body that makes the car a virtual one-off, this painstakingly restored and show-awarded Otto Vu is a particularly desirable example of Turin’s rare sports-racing machine. According to a wealth of documentation, including an Auto Club d’Italia Estratto Cronologico, correspondence from Fiat Archivio Storico and Zagato, prior bills of sale, registrations, titles, the research of Strada e Corsa restorations in The Netherlands, and Tony Adriaensens’ definitive book on the 8V model, chassis number 106.000026 is equipped with the rare uprated Tipo 104.004-specification engine, chiefly characterized by the presence of dual four-barrel Weber carburetors.

Initially mounted with first-series factory coachwork designed by Rapi, the Fiat was dispatched for delivery in Turin in May 1953. The Otto Vu was purchased new by local resident Giuseppe Malinverni, and he registered the car in February 1954 with tags reading “214969 TO.” Following Malinverni’s passing within the next two years, the 8V was sold to Spanish national Esteban Sala Soler, who intended to campaign the car in rallies. To this end, Soler sent the Fiat to Zagato to be rebodied with the company’s distinctive lightweight alloy coachwork, which in this case featured a low nose, an oversized hood scoop for improved intake, bulging non-louvered side vents for better brake cooling, and the signature double-bubble roof. The 8V is one of just six Zagato-clothed Otto Vu berlinettas to feature the iconic double-bubble roof.

To further prepare for competition, Soler returned the 8V to Fiat’s competition department for performance modifications that included retuning the engine to Tipo 104.004 specifications (note that all 8V engine blocks were, however, apparently stamped “104.000” regardless of specifications) and lowering the car’s weight by the installation of lightweight seats, a new dashboard, and various alloy pieces. An altimeter was also installed with the expectation of mountain driving, probably to aid in the optimal adjustment of the carburetors at high altitude.

In late February 1957 Soler campaigned the 8V in the VIII Rallye Sestrières, an 1,800-kilometer multi-day event that stretched from Sestrières (a ski resort west of Turin near the French border) to Rome, traversing the Italian Alps en route. Entered on behalf of the Spanish Scuderia Barcelona as race #46, the Otto Vu was piloted by the owner in tandem with co-driver Ramón Vilaprino. The pair managed to finish 3rd in class and 19th overall. This strong result was soon improved upon with a class win at the 1958 Rallye Automovilista Iberico.

Following its retirement from racing, the 8V was imported to the United States by the well-known distributor Otto Linton of Exton, Pennsylvania, from whom the car was purchased by Harold Berger of nearby Gwynedd Valley. By early 1962 Berger sold the berlinetta to Ed Jurist’s well-known Vintage Car Store of Nyack, New York.

In April 1962, the Fiat was acquired by Karl Anderson of New York City, and he went to considerable lengths to service the car, corresponding with a number of European manufacturers and American specialists. After 12 years of ownership, Mr. Anderson sold the Otto Vu in 1974 to Homer Tsakis of Katona, New York.

Circa 1976 the 8V was purchased by Jere Brown, a racing enthusiast residing in Oakland, California, who retained possession of the rare car for a remarkable period of 30 years, during which it was largely garaged in a prolonged state of ideal storage. In 2007, the Fiat was discovered in Brown’s garage by Lennart and Jurriaan Schouwenburg, the proprietors of the highly respected Dutch restoration shop Strada e Corsa. The Schouwenburg brothers were duly impressed by the 8V’s remarkable state of preservation and its ideally complete and authentic character. A purchase was arranged and the brothers returned the berlinetta to their shop in Haarlem, where a comprehensive restoration was commenced. By late 2008 the Otto Vu was sold to an esteemed collector in Belgium who leapt at the opportunity to steward the refurbishment of such a special car.

Every care was taken to ensure that the Fiat was restored with the greatest possible accuracy and fealty to its 1953 configuration, including the sourcing of unobtainium NOS parts such as model-specific RIV bearings. However, the brothers chose to tastefully integrate some mechanical upgrades that would improve performance and the overall driving experience, including forged pistons, uprated valves, and a limited-slip differential.

Following completion of the restoration in the spring of 2009, the Otto Vu was immediately presented at the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza, where it handily won its class. The berlinetta collected an additional class win at the 2012 Zuote Concours d’Elegance, and it received special prizes at the 2011 Unique Special Ones in Florence, and the 2015 Chantilly Concours d’Elegance. Also displayed at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the 2013 St. James’s International Concours, the Fiat successfully completed the Mille Miglia Storica three consecutive times (2010 to 2012).

In 2015 the Fiat was acquired by the consignor, a respected collector based in Northern California. During his ownership the car has been tended by Raffi Najjarian’s esteemed The Pit Stop, including additional measures to improve the car’s mechanical performance and cosmetic presentation. Among these measures, the factory four-speed transmission was removed and replaced with a five-speed unit; the four-speed gearbox is separately included in the sale. In 2016, the car again returned to Pebble Beach, where it earned 2nd in the competitive Fiat Custom Coachwork class.

Distinguished by its period competition pedigree, three decades of preserved storage, and the three-year refurbishment by one of Europe’s most respected restoration firms, this outstanding show-awarded 8V Zagato is arguably the most rarely configured and desirable example, as it retains the numbers-matching dual-carbureted engine and the rare double-bubble berlinetta coachwork. Ideal for further display and vintage event use, the special virtual one-off Otto Vu would make an outstanding addition to any collection of important post-war sports cars.