Debut at the 1000 Miglia in 1947
Our weekly look back at cars from yesteryear takes us to post-war times when Fiat brought us the aerodynamic 1100…
In 1947, Fiat expanded the 1100 range with an original, sleek and sporty berlinetta with sophisticated mechanicals, of which just a few hundred were built. The rare car – belonging to the FCA Heritage Collection – is on show at the Fiat Historic Centre.
The Fiat 1100 S was designed by Dante Giacosa at the end of the Second World War, with inspiration from the pre-War 508 C Mille Miglia. It had an aerodynamically contoured body without bumpers and featured fender skirts covering the rear wheels. The tail section was tapered, but the standout feature was the nose, including a grille divided into three distinctive parts with chromebars arranged horizontally at the sides and vertically in the centre, creating sequences of parallel and transverse lines that would become the hallmark of the 1100 S.
If the design hinted at the car’s racing potential, the mechanicals removed all doubt. To cope with the considerable power increase, the 1089 cc four-cylinder engine was fitted with an oil radiator and a centrifugal water pump. The camshaft was gear-driven. The result was a remarkable output of 51 hp at 5200 rpm and a dry weight of 825 kg that combined to propel the Fiat 1100 S to a top speed of 150 km/h.
Racing success soon followed. At the 1947 1000 Miglia, four 1100 S berlinettas finished among the top ten overall: they took fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth places.
The crews that achieved this impressive feat in the splendid Brescia-based race were all Italian: Capelli-Gerli fifth, Della Chiesa-Brandoli sixth, expert race mechanic “Pasqualino” Ermini seventh and Balestrero-Bracco ninth. The 1100 S left its mark not only for its racing exploits, but also due to the unmistakable nose line that was to bring it a lasting fame still showing no signs of dimming today.
401 Fiat 1100 S cars were built between 1947 and 1950 but, as in the case of many cars intensively used for racing in that period, very few have survived. The rare car belonging to the FCA Heritage Collection is normally on show at the Fiat Historic Centre in Turin.