Right from its foundation in 1899 Fiat served the high volume automotive market with reliable, low cost products. The high performance market, low volume and high cost, was left to others. This policy left tuning firms like Siata, Abarth and Nardi to serve the demand of higher performance Fiats. In 1950 Fiat's policy changed abruptly with the development of the Fiat 8V. In 1951, Fiat designer Dante Giocosa created a new high-performance sports car, the legendary 8V, or "Otto Vu" in Italian, a two-liter, V8-engined two-seater. Some development tasks were outsourced to Rudolf Hruska, at the time working at Siata. Development took place in absolute secrecy. As not to stress the experimental department of Fiat, production was taken up by Siata. The 8V was designed specifically to take on the two litre class, which was a highly contested class of the Italian championship. Fiat faced competition from Maserati, Ferrari and Lancia, who all had a two litre racer.
The Fiat 8V made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show in March of 1952. Fiat was supposed to build 200 8Vs to homologate the car for competition, but the cars were not moving, so the company eventually offered the chassis to coachbuilders. While Fiat did not race the 8V, cars were placed with drivers who did, and the first of these, owned by Franco Auricchio, took fifth in class at the 1952 Mille Miglia.
Presented at the Geneva Autosalon in 1952 the Fiat 8V was a sensation. It was made available in different body styles offered by the factory and by various coachbuilders, both as Fiat 8V and as the slightly modified Siata 208S. Fiat ended 8V production in September 1954, although many were not completed until 1955 and even 1956. Only 114 examples of Fiat's 8V were built and 96 examples were constructed under the Siata name.
The 8V by Ghia in this gallery is named "Supersonic", an allusion to the car's rocketship styling. The Supersonic design first appeared on a Conrero-tuned Alfa Romeo 1900, which was entered in the 1953 Mille Miglia. Designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi, it was crafted in metal by Ghia, which built eight examples on the 8V Fiat chassis. The Supersonic body was also applied to three Jaguars XK120, an Aston Martin DB2/4 and an even more extreme version was built on a DeSoto Adventurer chassis.
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