One of One: 1953 Fiat 8V by Ghia

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Fiat is not associated with sublime cars. Mostly, you and I are thinking, “Fix It Again Tony” and picturing dwarfish sedans or troublesome spyders. But in the 1950s as Europe was accelerating away from the crater created by WWII, every business was scrapping for hard currency and that meant US dollars. Coachbuilders that barely survived the war were looking for partners that could give them projects or funding. Automakers were trying new designs to catch the eye of American buyers. So it was that Fiat’s engineers were tasked with building a V6-powered sedan for the American market. That project was shelved. But the board at Fiat insisted that the work not be a complete waste, so the Lancia-inspired motor was re-examined, and used as the basis for the first and only V8 Fiat ever built, cradled in a Siata-constructed chassis. The result, which Fiat called the 8V or Otto Vu, comprised only 114 copies bodied by all manner of coachbuilders, including Fiat’s own factory. Meanwhile, Ghia, almost bankrupt, was thrown a lifeline by Chrysler. This collaboration – spearheaded by Virgil Exner – would introduce Transatlantic designs to the US market. Ghia pitched Fiat for a few dozen 8V chassis with a design backed by Exner and penned by Giovanni Savonuzzi, and went on to make arguably the most spectacular subset of 8Vs on the planet. Here at RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale auction on January 26th, is a 1953 Fiat 8V coupe by Ghia, chassis number 000042, with an estimate of $1.1 to $1.3 million. Thanks to Araknid78 for this fabulous tip!

Just fifteen cars were bodied by Ghia, each with differences that made them unique – before mechanical issues put a stop to the project. This 8V is ostensibly the only Ghia that is not a Supersonic. Savonuzzi’s original design drew heavily on Jet Age inspiration – producing cues that show up in more mundane cars such as the Karmann Ghia and Volvo P1800. This car – which for unknown reasons was not given a Supersonic body – was even mistaken for a Siata at one point by a previous owner, who sold it as such. OttoVu, by Tony Adriaensens, a two-volume study of these rare cars, can be consulted for a more thorough history of all 114 8Vs.

The 1996 cc motor was certainly not the most powerful V8 ever invented. The initial design, breathing through two Webers, produced only 104 bhp; two later versions sequentially increased the compression ratio, and changed the camshaft timing and fuel delivery, finally attaining 125 bhp. This was enough, in the mid-1950s, to send the 8V to the winner’s circle several times in European two-liter races. The gearbox is a four-speed manual. This car has extensively documented history – thanks to RM’s research department, but scant details as to the originality of the mechanical components. Fiat made at least 200 of its V8 motors, which were used in Siatas as well as the 8V, so it’s entirely possible that one or more 8Vs have seen motor replacements.

The interior, like its nearly perfect exterior, is splendid. The Art Deco dash is unlike anything else I’ve seen. RM’s documentation includes a few restoration photos but we don’t know if this was the original color scheme. One thing is evident, however: this car has seen a kaleidoscope of owners over the years, one of whom commissioned a restoration and sold it before the work was even completed. Perhaps this jewel of a car will finally find a long-term owner willing to drive her now and again.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. TheOldRanger

    This is the first Fiat that I really like the styling. But in 1953, I was still a barefoot kid sweating the Kansas sun and never had an inkling of a car not made in the US. Oh wait, one lady in Forest Hills had an “English Ford” but I didn’t know about the other European countries.

    Like 9

    This car is so gorgeous it hurts, but 1.5 mill for a Fiat? It sure does look like a baby Ferrari, though. Absolutely beautiful! The interior is one of the reasons why Italian cars from this era bring in so much money, I could sit in it all day and not even have to drive it. One of those cars you put in your living room as art.

    Like 17
  3. Cathy Kirk

    I would put in an American V8, manual transmission and front disc brakes, then drive.

    Like 3
    • CarbuzzardMember

      Really? I’d suggest you do that to something not worth 1.5M, unless you have a million plus bucks to throw away.

      Like 4
  4. BA

    Buy a hellcat ! Way cheaper, way faster & IMHO better looking I know it’s a classic but for 1.5 can’t I have a Lancia Stratos HI FI instead ? Wait a minute I’m the guy who’s dying for 1996 Impala SS I better stick to that!

    Like 2
  5. Somer

    @Cathy Kirk A lot of them did have v-8’s stuffed in them. It didn’t help their resale later.

    Like 2
  6. Howie

    Wow what a beauty!!

    Like 4
  7. Allen L

    I see a lot of AC Ace/Cobra styling cues that might have come out of this design, imagine if there had been a fixed head coupe Cobra coupe like this!

    Like 2
  8. Lowell Peterson

    A other fabulous find. Thanks for sharing it. O will check it out closely when at the auction next week! Can’t wait!

    Like 3
  9. Kendall

    It’s interesting that there is no mention why this was called a 8V, versus V8.
    If I recall correctly it was thought that an American company had the rights to V8.

    Like 2
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      That is correct. I didn’t have space to discuss every interesting detail about this car, but Fiat was under the impression that Ford had trademarked “V8”. Two stories I found: either Ford had never done so, or the trademark time frame ran out.

      Like 2

    It is said that Fiat called it the 8V because they thought that V8 had been patented by Ford and therefore unavailable.

    Like 0
  11. David Harold

    I saw this car displayed at The Greenbrier Concours d’ Elegance back in 2020. It Is A Masterpiece !

    Like 2
  12. Pietro

    It’s true. In the years immediately running after WW2 Fiat’s top management made big efforts to please the US government in order to keep open the flush of monies coming over following Marshall aids program. The V8 was a prove of that but the mass manufacturing had never been planned.

    Like 0
  13. douglas hunt

    stunning car, I just love these early cars, unfortunately I was -9 years old [born in 1962] so I have never seen this car before, I like it, a lot

    Like 0
  14. Michael Michalak

    I have a 124 abarth spider, a total driving experience you can’t stop smiling,. I just don’t want a car like everyone has a cookie cut car , only made to go from0 to 60, the mail truck can do that! Several people with vettes an Porsches love the 124

    Like 0
  15. chrlsful

    2L bent8 is the least of interest here to me. They can B anything like the rest automotive – frnt engine, rear wheel drive; rear engine. frnt wheel drive, etc.

    What first Does catch my interest is Savonuzzi’s huge frnt gaping maw and todays repetition of that element (the only ugly design flaw on this Ghia). Did he have 50 yrs foresight, today’s copy his? No, it’s “today’s” trend:

    been alot nicer w/o it?
    Hey? new rhyme “maw flaw”? sure – bring back sq lines of early ’60s/80? rounded almost human (feminine) curves of the late 30’s? YES !

    Like 0
  16. Araknid78

    $1,105,000 USD | Sold

    Like 0
  17. douglas hunt

    as I stated previously, this car was 9 years old when I was born, would love to have found one as a relic when I was 16 or so………but I’m sure by then they were already being snatched up by those who knew what they would eventually become, extremely desirable

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds