By the time Fiat introduced its new 1100 unit body sedan for 1953, Italy's postwar economic recovery was in full swing, and Fiat must have noticed how specialist builders like Cisitalia and Stanguellini were making use of Fiat running gear. Near the end of 1953, Fiat released a Turismo Veloce (TV) version of the sedan, with a bit more power and special styling tweaks. Around the same time, Fiat supplied running gear to Pinin Farina, which made its own coupe body for the 1100TV through 1956. The PF coupe, with prominent "TV" logo in the grille, was cute enough to sell around 780 copies.
Ghia (the red car below the gray PF) and Vignale also made some coupes, but it was Carrozzeria Allemano who offered a glassy, slender masterwork worthy of comparison with their (similarly rare) bodies on the Maserati A6G2000. Deft handling of proportions and details concealed the car's small size, and moved beyond the cuddly toy character of the PF.
By this time Fiat management decided to jump into the game of making special Fiats entirely in-house, and Fabio Luigi Rapi, who had designed the Fiat 8V* a few years earlier, produced an American-influenced roadster with panoramic windshield and plunging fender profiles accentuated by a nearly-vertical chrome spear curving back to connect to the rear bumper and recalling the contemporary Cadillac. This new 1100TV Transformabile (convertible) appeared in 1955.
From the beginning, the new convertible was more a car for transporting starlets to movie premieres than running the Mille Miglia, but gave Fiat something to offer sporting drivers just as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta caught the public's attention. Perhaps in response, Fiat made frequent improvements. After the first 571 cars, they added 3 horses and a revised rear suspension. After making 450 of those Series 2 cars, they increased the engine size and power with the 1200TV in 1957. Those cars, including the red one at the top of the page, also gained swivel seats to help driver and passenger avoid the dogleg shape of the wraparound windshield. Chrysler would offer the same feature on its 1959 cars. Fiat made about 2,360 of the 1200TV, for a total of just under 3,400 Transformabile TVs. That makes them fairly rare cars, very much like the first 3 years of the Corvette. And like that Corvette, they led to cars which were more performance-oriented and more popular. During the 1960s, Fiat offered new 1200 and 1500 spiders, the Fiat OSCA 1500 and 1600 spiders, and beginning in 1966, the long-running 124 spider, all styled by Pininfarina. But anyone interested in tracking collector's interest in small, sporty postwar Fiats could do a lot worse than just watching the TV…
*The Fiat 8V and related Siata 208S are an etceterini saga in themselves, and the subject of a future post.
Top: 1958 Fiat 1200TV (craigslist)
2nd: 1953-54 Fiat 1100TV coupe PF (wikimedia)
3rd: Fiat 1100TV Ghia coupe (carandclassic.uk)
4th: 1954 Fiat 1100TV Allemano coupe (pinterest.com)
5th: 1954 Fiat 1100TV Allemano coupe (flickr.com)
6th: 1955 Fiat 1100TV Transformabile (Fiat S.p.A., reprinted on tumblr.com)