An exhibition of 258 cars has just opened in a former transmission factory within Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ famous Mirafiori plant in Turin.
The latest showcase for FCA’s Heritage department, it displays Fiats, Lancias, Alfa Romeos and Autobianchis partly with the idea of inspiring ideas and inspiration within the company.
The 15,000m2 Heritage Hub opened with several long rows of car arranged in echelons, the centre of the building houses eight themed exhibitions of cars. Among them are ‘Archistars’, these being segment-defining models such as the 1936 Fiat Topolino, 1955 Fiat 600 and the 1980 Fiat Panda, as well as concept and personalised cars, eco and sustainable concepts, rally cars, racers, style landmarks, safety car concepts and cars that have achieved epic journeys.
The display is open to the public, and includes a handful of cars offered for sale by FCA Heritage under its ‘Reloaded by Creator’ restoration programme – let’s take a look at some of the treasures of the collection:
An extensive collection
These twin rows of cars don’t begin to convey the scale of the space, or the extent of the collection.
Nearest are a Fiat Uno facelift and a Fiat Tempra (left), and behind those several examples of Fiat’s Defender-rivalling (briefly) Campagnola off-roader. On the right are an Autobianchi A112 and Fiat 500 Giardinera.
And there are plenty of big names
Fiats of the 1990s, including, from left, the forgotten European Car of the Year winning Fiat Tipo, Cinquecento, Punto Cabrio, Punto hatch, Barchetta, Coupe, Bravo (another CoTY winner) and more, with the unmistakable contours of a Multipla hiding behind.
1908 Fiat S61
Housing a mighty 10-litre eingine, this is just one of five S61s built for the Fiat Racing Team. It wasn’t merely brute cubic capacity that propelled this car – amazingly, its four enormous pistons were fired by twin plugs and four valves per cylinder, to produce 130bhp.
1953 Fiat 600 prototype
Progetto 100, as it was called, aimed to carry four adults and luggage at a cruising speed of at least 53mph, in a car weighing no more than 450kg (990 lb).
Just five prototypes were built; this a rare survivor. Recognisable as a 600, it nevertheless differs in many details, among them aluminium taillight castings that double as engine air intakes.
1955 Fiat 600
This is a production 600, of which almost five million were built. When the millionth was made in 1961, Fiat was manufacturing the car at the rate of 1000 a day.
It was built in countries as distant as Chile, Malaysia, Australia and Colombia, while its manufacture by Yugoslavia's Zastava contributed almost one million units to the 2.7 million built by Fiat.
1972 Fiat X1/23
This pitch-roofed two-seater protoype was Fiat’s exploratory city car for the 1970s. Originally petrol-engined, it reappeared in 1976 with a 13.5bhp electric motor driving the front wheels.
Its range was only 50 miles despite regenerative braking and a top speed of only 45mph, relatively primitive lead-acid batteries and an 820kg (1804 lb) weight responsible for these discouraging statistics. A prototype it remained.
1936 Fiat Topolino
Fiat’s first 500 soon became known as the Topolino – Little Mouse – and was one of the smallest cars you could buy. Despite this, it was offered in convertible, two-door saloon and van forms, and later as an estate.
During the 19 years it was made there were three generations and 520,000 were built, contributing significantly to the motorisation of Europe both before and after World War Two.
1966 Fiat 124
The 124 saloon (the nearest green car) became the second most-produced cars of all time because Fiat sold a licence to Russia's Lada, which manufactured it in profusion until 1988.
The 124 was also made by Seat, Turkey’s Tofas, India’s Premier and Asia Motors in Korea, and there were Bulgarian and Egyptian factories too. The blue nose of the nearest car is a 124 Coupe.
1971 Fiat 130 Familiare
This impressive wagon is one of four specially built for the founding Agnelli family that owned and ran Fiat. The 130 saloon was one of a number of cars that began to establish the idea that Fiat was not so good at developing large cars, an idea reinforced by the contemporary 132 saloon and the later Croma.
The Pininfarina-designed 130 Coupe was, and is, a thing of beauty.
1972 Fiat E.S.V. 1500
You might recognise Fiat 126 doors and windows in this oddball bumper car, which was actually based on the preceding 500. An Experimental Safety Vehicle built by Fiat in the early 1970s, it was a response to America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration project exploring safer cars for the 1980s.
Besides Fiat’s multi-car effort, Toyota, Nissan, Volvo and Mercedes also built prototypes. This Fiat’s extra reinforcements, soft cladding and interior padding pushed its weight to 1500lbs (682kg) – hence the name. Fiat built 13.
1975 Lancia Stratos
A spectacular car in spectacular colours, the Stratos won the World Rally Championship three times in succession in 1974, ’75 and ’76 driven by Sandro Munari and Bjorn Waldegard.
Probably the best-looking rally car ever, the Fiat Dino V6 mid-engine Stratos was one of the most successful too.
1982 Pininfarina 124 Spidereuropa
Pininfarina produced the 124 Spider for Fiat and towards the creaking end of its long life (it was launched in 1966), branded the car too. The europa element of its name indicated European rather than emission-choked US spec to produce 104bhp.
Not so much, but it weighed 1060kg (2332 lb) – much the same as today’s Fiat 124 Spider, incidentally. This car is for sale, having been restored under FCA Heritage’s ‘Reloaded by Creators’ programme.
1988 Lancia Delta Integrale
Lancia’s most famous model, now worth sizeable sums. Next to it, in yellow, is the second-generation Delta, which was nowhere near as effective or desirable as the original.
1993 Fiat Scia
The Scia was a finger in the wind to test the reaction to a new Fiat sports car. Designed by Fiat Centro Stile and built by coachbuilders Maggiora, the Scia was inspired by small luxury boats – barchettas – and was indeed the trigger for the Fiat of that name.
Like the Barchetta the Scia was based on Punto hardware, its interior as elegantly spare as its body.
1995 Fiat Barchetta
The more you look, the more of the 1993 Scia concept you can see in the Barchetta. Relatively low weight (1056kg – 2323 lb) and 129bhp delivered decent zest, and it handled well despite the preponderance of Punto parts. Built for 10 years, almost 58,000 were sold.
1999 Fiat EcoBasic
The man who designed this is now the head of FCA Heritage. Roberto Giolito’s EcoBasic, now 20 years old, still looks like tomorrow’s car. Designed to cost no more than £4000 (or around US$6000 at the time) in 2000, an amazing 88% of its internal volume was dedicated to passengers and luggage, yet it had a Cd drag coefficient of only 0.28.
The body structure was aluminium, the engine a 1.3 turbodiesel. Fiat built 10 prototypes.
Line of Lancias
There are Lancias from the beginning to what is now not quite the end, the current Ypsilon supermini to be replaced after all.
There are landmark models like the Lambda, the first production car with a monocoque body, the Aurelia, the Fulvia and the Delta Integrale, as well as the Beta in its various bodystyles, this the model whose bodywork’s urge to return to earth dealt Lancia a near mortal blow.
2003 Lancia Fulvietta
This exceptionally pretty update of the 1965 Fulvia Coupe was intended to spearhead a renaissance of Lancia, the meat of the range to be the new Ypsilon and Delta, as well as a badge-engineered Chrysler 300C to replace the Kappa saloon.
It’s so nice and represents such a lost opportunity for this revered brand it gets two pictures here…
2003 Lancia Fulvietta
The relaunch was due to come to the UK, too- Fiat dealers even had the banners and bunting at the ready, but the idea was ditched at the last moment.
2004 Fiat Panda 4x4, tracked
Among Italy’s Dolomite mountains can be found the company-owned restaurant Chalet Fiat, which uses small tracked Fiats to carry skiers up pistes. This Panda looks as cool as the snow it was built to crawl on.
2006 Oltre Fiat
It has a kerb weight of around 4000kg (8818 lb), has 50cm (20in) of ground clearance, four-wheel drive, a roll-over cage, assorted diff locks and the ability to shield its occupants from roadside bombs. Which is why the Iveco LMV (Light Multirole Vehicle) weighs so much.
Despite its heft, this glamourised Hummer-alike concept built for the 2006 Bologna motor show could gather itself for an 81mph escape, propelled by a 3.0 litre, four cylinder common rail turbodiesel grunting out 336lb ft of torque and 183bhp.
2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider
This one’s for sale, with no refurbishment required, having covered a handful of kilometres during its life within the company. Checked over by Heritage and issued with a certificate of authenticity, it’s effectively a new car.
The 444bhp 8C was a limited edition appearing first as the Competizione coupe and then a Spider, Maserati building 500 of each for Alfa.
2011 Fiat 500 Zagato
Lightly reworked by Zagato to feature the coachbuilders signature double bubble roof, this coupe version of the 500 appeared at the 2011 Geneva show, where it also showcased the more powerful 104bhp version of the fizzy little Twinair engine. It didn’t make production, sadly.