Fiat 8V "Demon Rouge" - coupe body by Vignale - manufactured in 1952
The most prominent classic car event in Holland is the annual Concours d'Elegance at Paleis Het Loo, one of the royal palaces. This year's best of show award was presented to the owner of the car pictured above. It's an unique Italian sports car based on the rare 8V chassis made by Fiat during the early 1950s, fitted with avant-garde bodywork made by Carrozzeria Vignale and designed by Giovanni Michelotti.
This remarkable car was conceived when both the Vignale firm and Michelotti were at the beginning of their careers and meant to be a showcase at concourses and car shows. At the time it was extremely modern with a compact streamlined body, tail fins, panoramic windows in the front and the rear (complete with visor) and a transparent roof section. It incorporated a wide number of fresh and original design cues which found their way into production cars for decades to come. As a whole however it was a bit too wild and unbalanced for easy appreciation by the public. A few years later therefore Vignale presented a new Demon Rouge coupe with more traditional lines, especially at the rear section. In retrospect however the original Demon Rouge is regarded as one of the highlights in the works of both Vignale and Michelotti, which is abundant.
The car itself these days is a well-known museum piece and shown regularly at classic car shows around the world, so within the line-up of the cars at Het Loo it was no real surprise to most of the public. On the other side it is an expertly maintained car in perfect running order and a milestone in design history; in that regard the international jury probably picked the rightful winner. Still, choosing a non-Italian designed entry from outside Holland for once wouldn't hurt the status of the event, and there was enough quality present to choose from. Other than that it was a perfect (5th) edition of this event, blessed with remarkably dry weather this time (during the wettest August month in Dutch history) and an interesting variety of classic cars. Although this year's introduction of sprints with classic racing cars on the driveway of the palace, inspired by the successful Goodwood Festival of Speed, looked a bit silly really...
You can find more info about the wonderful Fiat 8V models at RitzSite's "Fiat Otto Vu: the obscure sports car" section. There also is an impression of the first (and still best) Concours d'Elegance at Paleis Het Loo edition present on this site which you might enjoy.
© André Ritzinger, Amsterdam, Holland