1949 Fiat-Patriarca 750 Berlinetta Sport by Faina
$200,000 - $250,000 USD
Lot Location: Monterey, California
RM | Sotheby's - MONTEREY 24 - 25 AUGUST 2018
- Offered on Friday
- 1950 Mille Miglia class winner
- 3rd in class at the 1950 Targa Florio
- Original Giannini-tuned Fiat engine
- Authenticity confirmed by Bruno Patriarca
- Mille Miglia Storica eligible
Please note that we understand that this car was reconstructed by Bruno Patriarca in 1987. Contrary to the printed catalogue, we are unable to confirm the originality of the engine or the Genova license plates. The car is listed in the Patriarca Registry and has received its FIVA identity card in the US.
After World War II, the rapidly expanding automotive industry in Italy was keenly focused on racing. With most of the pre-war Alfa Romeos and Maseratis being taken out of their wartime shelter, there was a thriving environment of enthusiastic people keen to resume motor racing competitions after the dark years of the War. And with production car offerings limited to small economy cars like the Fiat 500 A and B, the 1100, and the Lancia Aprilia, there was a whole cottage industry of ingenious mechanics, tuners, and coachbuilders dedicated to turning these humble little cars into true racing machines.
In this budding class of cars, Rodolfo Patriarca was among the most successful and famous. Renowned for building excellent Fiat-based specials, Patriarca was able to obtain major fame when this very 750 Sport Berlinetta, driven by Sesto Leonardi and Agostino Prosperi, obtained a class victory at the 1950 Mille Miglia. With a stunning time of 15 hours, 55 minutes, and 40 seconds and a recorded top speed of 157 kph, it was one of the very first cars to arrive back in Brescia. They incredibly finished 24th overall and 1st in class. The average pace of 105.789 kph it maintained during the race was enough to keep this small coupe close to the powerful Alfas, Ferraris, and Jaguars from start to finish!
The 750 Berlinetta Sport had been the second car Rodolfo Patriarca built for the gentleman driver Sesto Leonardi. It was based on a Fiat 500 C chassis, which was bodied by coachbuilder Mario Faina in all aluminum and powered by a tuned Giannini 750-cc engine, producing 81 bhp. Thanks to Patriarca’s engineering and especially to the Berlinetta’s performance at the Mille Miglia, Sesto Leonardi was crowned Italian Champion for the 750-cc class in 1950.
Between 1949 and 1955, the 750 Berlinetta Sport is believed to have competed in a number of races, including at least two appearances at the Mille Miglia. It raced to 3rd in class at the 1950 Targa Florio and also appeared at the challenging Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti. Its greatest success, however, was its 1950 Mille Miglia class win. In later years, it went on to a more tranquil life, changing various owners in the Genova area before arriving in the U.S. more recently. Although suffering an accident at the 1950 Coppa della Toscana, the unique 750 Berlinetta Sport continued to be enjoyed for many years in the Genova area and retains its original 1953 Genova registration plates and copies of the original ACI paperwork recording ownership changes back to new. More recently it has also been “blessed” by Bruno Patriarca, son of Rodolfo, and has been featured on the cover of the ASI book on the Roman manufacturer.
With a remarkable history and provenance, the Patriarca Fiat 750 Sport Berlinetta is the perfect entrant for many prestigious car events in the world, including most notably the Mille Miglia Storica.