TEXT: LA ESCUDERÍA / PHOTOS FIAT BALILLA BERLINETTA AERODINAMICA: CATAWIKI
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In 1935 Fiat´s special coachwork and racing department introduced a pretty little coupe with advanced aerodynamics known as “Berlinetta Aerodinamica Mille Miglia”. Designed by the well-known stylist, Mario Revelli de Beaumont, with the help the University of Turin´s Aerodynamic Laboratory, the little coupé was notably elegant and modern for its time.
This coachwork was mounted on the well-known and proven Fiat 508 Ballila, this being the second series introduced in 1934, the engine being the 508CS. The 508CS was a new more sporting version with a new ohv head giving 36 bhp, being the engine which had powered the Balilla Coppa d´Oro spyders to competicion success.
It is thought that about 30 Berlinetta Aerodinamica were built, all with aluminium doors and boot lid. The car was soon entered into races such as the Mille Miglia, the entry of Fancesco Borgo/Lia Dumas finishing 2nd in class and 14th overall in the 1936 Mille Miglia. Only around 12 units are known to have survived, so values are high, one car selling for over 300,000€ at auction in Monaco, May 2018.
Fiat Balilla Berlinetta Aerodinamica: The Spanish Car
Amazingly, a completely unknown example of the Berlinetta Aerodinámica has surfaced in a village garage in the centre of Spain. After many years hidden in the back of the garage, the coachwork is in poor condition, and sits ignomoniously on the chassis of a 1920s Citroën 5CV.
Almost certainly the only Fiat Berlinetta Aerodinamica to be imported to Spain, this car must have arrived shortly before the start of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936. Nothing is known for sure, but many interesting cars were hidden away, comandeered or destroyed in the war and its long aftermath. In this case, at some point the coachwork was mounted on a Citroen chassis, and the original front wings and radiator were replaced by one-off hand-made items.
Panels, wooden frame and trim are original, although front wings and radiator grille are not. Fortunately, the main coachwork was kept intact, as was its wooden framework, floors, trim mouldings and windscreen. The doors and boot lid are the original aluminium items, and the boot floor retains the 3 fixtures for a spare wheel.
This important find will be auctioned on Catawiki from 7 Septemeber, in a special auction dedicated to pre 1940 vehicles. As a project, it is interesting and complicated in equal measure. Finding a Fiat Balilla chassis and components is straightforward, but the reproduction of the original wings and front, or of the interior will be more challenging. However, it will certainly be a worthwhile project to resurrect a car which is so very eligible for the Mille Miglia.