Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Fiat Otto Vu: the obscure sports car

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1952_Fiat_8V_Demon_Rouge_VignaleNot at all a classic sports car shape has this 8V with bodywork by carozzeria Vignale. It looks like a show car but is actually a racing car which is still entered in events like the Mille Miglia in Italy.
Vignale has fitted a small number of Fiat 8Vs with bodywork; often very original angular designs which need some getting used to. This car is the most famous of them. Because of its sharp, slightly angry design and of course the distinctive red and black paint job it became known as the "Demon Rouge": the Red Demon.
Its panoramic "wrap around" windshield was quite a novelty at the time, as was the transparent roof.

1952_Fiat_8V_Demon_Rouge_VignaleThe rear of this cars shows also some original styling elements, like the panoramic rear window and the extended roof line, sculpted like a visor. Also note the finned shape of the rear fenders, which wasn't at all common then. American cars started to have "tail fins" from the 1955 model year, about 3 years after this car was introduced. European main stream cars got them even later.
This car may not be aesthetically beautiful, its aerodynamic design is certainly impressive and made a big impact in 1952, being not alike any other car.

1953_Fiat_8V_berlinettaAfter the first 34 cars with Fiat factory body its design was revised. Now both pairs of headlights were fitted in the front wings in a slanted layout (with headlight positions compliant to GT-category regulations) and the grille was less ostentatious. Also the rear wheel spats disappeared. The car still had a remarkable, original style, but now looked a bit more harmonious. This model became known as the second series 8V.
The Carozzeria Speciale FIAT berlinetta on these pictures has the second series bodywork, oddly enough still fitted with the old fashioned split windscreen. Later cars featured a modern single piece windshield with rounded edges.

1953_Fiat_8V_berlinettaThe V8 engines in these Fiats were nothing like their American counterparts. These units were compact, high revving and had a small displacement. The 8 cylinders were fitted in a 70 degree V configuration and combined they measured up a 1996 cc displacement. In standard trim the unit produced 105 hp @ 5600 rpm, enough to power this 996 kg car to a maximum speed of 190 kph. Torque was a limited 149 Nm @ 3600 rpm.
Because this was in essence a competition car there were also tuned versions, which had special camshafts and higher compression. With the original 2 double Weber carburetors fitted these tuned versions produced 115 hp @ 6500 rpm (typical for the second series 8V). There was also a rare competition engine which featured 2 four barrel Webers and special cylinder heads with four separate intake ports. These engines were rated at a maximum of 125 hp. Since the engine was originally designed for a luxury car the crankshaft only had 3 main bearings, so driving it at high revs was a bit risky.

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