Fiat 1100-103 Sport Abarth by Ghia

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1100-103 Sport Abarth by Ghia





In 1953, the 1100 was completely redesigned as a compact four-door sedan, with a modern monocoque bodywork and integrated fenders and front lights. The new model was called the 1100/103 after its project number, and was offered (as usual at that time) in two different versions: "economica" (cheaper) and "normale" (standard). In October 1953, the car became available in a sporty version, the 1100TV (Turismo Veloce) with a third light in the middle of the grille and 51 PS (38 kW) rather than the 36 PS (26 kW) of the regular versions. It was also available in station-wagon version, with a side-hinged fifth door at the back.

Stanguellini, best known for its Fiat-based front-engined Formula Junior single-seaters, had its roots in pre-war European racing and became closely associated with the Fiat brand, thanks to constant modification and tuning on Fiat engines. While most efforts focused on competition applications, a limited number of road cars also bore the Stanguellini badge.

Nuccio Bertone's rise to the forefront of the Bertone organization was cemented in 1954 with the introduction of his sensational Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint at that year's Turin Motor Show. Bertone's association with that marque had attracted international attention with the first of the aerodynamically styled, visually sensational Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica (BAT) show cars, the Alfa Romeo BAT 5, introduced in 1953. This series would see a further two cars, the BAT 7 and BAT 9, introduced in 1954 and 1955, respectively.

In March 1955, the 1100/103 Trasformabile, a two-seater roadster, was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Equipped with the mechanics from the 1100TV, the American-inspired design was the work of the special bodies division of Fiat (Sezione Carrozzerie Speciali). 571 of these first series Trasformabiles were built. In 1956 it received a more powerful engine (three more horsepower) and a modified rear suspension; 450 more of these were built. From 1957 the Trasformabile was equipped with the more powerful 55 PS (40 kW) "1200" engine (1,221 cc). Production of this model continued until 1959, with circa 2,360 of the 1.2 liter Trasformabiles built.The 1.2 also received slight changes to the front and rear design, with bigger headlights being the most noticeable difference.

Between 1956 and 1960, the new 1100 underwent several slight changes in fittings and details, e.g. newly designed grille, more rectangular profile, dual color dressing, and eventually small fintails with spear-shaped backlights. A special version, the 1100 Granluce (i.e. "Large light"), no longer with rear-hinged-doors, launched in 1959, had both fintails and wider windows. As an option it could be fitted with a new powerful 1221 cc engine.

The Fiat 1100/103 was imported and sold by Premier Automobiles Limited (PAL). The older model was known as the Millecento and the one with the center light on the front grille as the Elegant. In 1958, the fintail model was introduced as the Select. It was followed by the Super Select in 1961. By 1964, the 1100D was introduced and it was assembled in India by PAL. This model has most of the parts manufactured locally. In India it was considered a sportier alternative than the Hindustan Ambassador.

1957 Bertone acquired a Fiat 1100 TV (Touring Veloce) that was factory-uprated to 1200 specifications and then modified by Stanguellini for greater chassis performance. Under commission number 8900, the car was labeled as prototipo 8901 and clothed in completely unique bodywork styled by the renowned Bertone designer Franco Scaglione.

Pronounced rear tailfins echoed elements of Scaglione’s celebrated Alfa Romeo BAT cars, while the Fiat’s overall shape presaged the Sprint Speciale prototype he would soon design for Milan. Large door scallops and a wraparound one-piece windscreen aesthetically evoked an aggressive competition profile.

The one-off Bertone prototype was dubbed the Spider America and presented by the coachbuilder at the Turin Auto Salon in late October 1957. As period photographs confirm, the car was next seen at the Concorso d’Eleganza Cortina d’Ampezzo held at the Hotel Miramonti-Majestic in July 1958. The Fiat-Stangellini was later shipped to Argentina, where it was exhibited in December 1960 at the Salon del Automovile in Buenos Aires, and from there it is believed the car was sold into Argentine ownership.

            1100-103 Sport Abarth by Ghia

The last of four Abarth 205 competition chassis to be constructed, from the new Fiat 1100-103, as well as the only example bodied by Ghia. Believed to have been designed by Giovanni Michelotti, it was constructed concurrently with the Ghia-bodied Chryslers of the same period. The Abarth echoed the Chryslers’ broad oval grille opening, wide low stance, and canopy-like roof element, but with a delightful smaller scale.

Ghia exhibited the car on its stand at the 1953 Turin Salon, the same show at which the 1100-103 made its debut, thus emphasizing the abilities of Abarth and Ghia to maximize the performance and style of the new model. Aldo Farinelli, in his report for the Italian magazine Motor Italia, described the car as “A Masterpiece of Design.”

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