Another SS cousin: FIAT Stanguellini Bertone Berlinetta

1954 FIAT Stanguellini Bertone Berlinetta *071366*. This car is for sale now through Fantasy Junction, but is doing residence at the Petersen Automobile Museum in southern California -worth a visit even if this wasn’t there.  If the Sprint and SS have an extended family, this car would be considered an older second cousin, perhaps a first cousin even, and definitely a near sibling of the Sprint and BAT cars.  The list of cars Franco Scaglione had a hand in creating is impressive, and includes many of Alfa’s most coveted one-offs, listed one after another (1900L, Sportiva, BAT 5,7,9 etc) and many others like this little guy.  Truly art in automotive form.  This is a car that demands a place in your house -not your garage.  For $295,000 you’ll be in an exclusive club.

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This is a beautiful car from some angles and a challenging car from others -but then a lot of Scaglione’s creations are.  You have to look at it for a few moments, then remember that this is a hand made car.  Panels were hand formed, gas welded together and married to some seed of a FIAT 1100 chassis.  Color is great -not a color one would typically associate with Italian sports cars, but common in the palette of early 1950’s Italy.

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There is some of the ordinary Giulietta Sprint in here, as well as hints as to where he would go with the SS.  There is a good chance this design project and the Giulietta Sprint design project had some overlap.  I’m not sure how I feel about the grill area on this.  I’d have to spend more time with it in person before I made a firm judgement.

There are three roads to going quicker/faster: decrease weight, increase power and lower drag.  Franco Scaglione was a man driven to bring aerodynamics to sports cars -not fake ‘make it look slippery’ shapes, but quantitatively derived bodies systematically developed to lower the drag coefficient.  Add to this a performance tuned Fiat 1100 TV based engine from Stanguellini and two thirds of the above recipe for speed would be addressed.

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Little fins out back, a split window on a hatch back, faired in tail lamps, vents on the side behind the front wheels -what more could you want?

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There must have been a shop in Italy, probably down the street from the Bertone factory, where custom glass could be floated/bent.  What are the chances this is the windshield from some other production car?  

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Neat.  Dark gray, burnt orange and yellow never looked so good together.  I guess it wouldn’t be too hard to find parts to restore this from since a car like this would be fitted with whatever components Bertone or Fiat had on the shelves that fit the application. 

I know some of you are reading this and thinking about the Fiat 1100, and wondering why anyone would start with that engine.  Practically speaking, powering your race car with a proven reliable, commonly available and readily serviceable engine makes a lot of sense.  This didn’t escape most would-be racers and what today might be called a spec race environment flourished with all manner of Fiat 1100 based cars finding their way onto tracks around Italy in the early 1950’s.  Doing a coach built sporty berlinetta with this formula in mind made a lot of sense.

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Good grief -look at that steering box placement!  This has a variation on the typical hood prop theme.  My Sprint and Appia both have similar.  Another application for the 40DCO3.  This looks perfect to me -not over done but clean and purposeful.

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Two of the early Sprint prototypes were hatch backs of this sort.  If only…  I’m guessing that’s the Stanguellini ‘S’ badge.

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Engine number.  Not very often you see a body-color engine block.

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Even looks petty good under here.  

Cars like this are pretty interesting.  Imagine the efforts made to bring this from crusty incomplete project to what you see here.  I get calls from guys trying to figure out what empty screw holes in their Sprint were for, what the finish on some parts should be, or how I would tackle some tricky task.  Who do you call for a car like this?

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11 thoughts on “Another SS cousin: FIAT Stanguellini Bertone Berlinetta

  1. A very good example of a highly successful (in racing as well as on the street) car that used the Fiat 1100 engine as a basis is Cisitalia (D46 and 202 models, in particular). In that case, the engine was seriously worked over. Any idea what all went in to engine mods on this car?

      • I had the pleasure of restoring this car. The crank in this motor was completely polished to a mirror finish so that it would splash thru the 7 qts. of oil with minimal resistance. The head is ported, polished and match to the intake. There are also large aluminum finned drum brake that are stamped Stanguellini fitted to this car. Before the car was restored, someone offered to by the brake setup for $10K!

  2. Very delicate to say “a beautiful car from some angles and a challenging car from others.” In fact to me it looks like the “Little fins out back, a split window on a hatch back, faired in tail lamps, vents on the side behind the front wheels” are all inharmoniously, and amateurishly, mashed together. And I thought the Sprint prototype hatchbacks hinged at the top, not the side. I certainly wouldn’t want to live with this under the same roof, as you suggest.

    • Jeffrey,

      I’ve seen this in person a few times and it’s better (a lot better actually!) in person than the pictures suggest, though not for everyone I’m sure. I’d have it hanging around, but not for the asking…

      Matt

      • I would agree with Matt. It’s one of those cars that must been seen in person. Having taken this car to many car shows including Pebble Beach, I can say the car gets the “Rock Star” treatment at every show. It really peaks peoples interests into what Franco Scaglione was designing at this stage of his career with Bertone. This car was designed right before the BAT cars and its roots are reflected in these great cars.

  3. What a surprize !!! Great to see our little “Luigi ” still drawing attention.My son gave our Stang it’s name when we got it in 06. Joe’s sooo right where ever wehave taken the car to show , it;s a rock
    star…I have many.many pictures of Joes Wonderful restoration, and of the car back in the day when it was owned by my seller,he had the car for 50 years. The cars been a winner whereever
    we have shown it. One thing it’s no longer consigned with Fantasy Junction….but is again availble
    contact secapete@gmail.com.

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