In 1951, Fiat designer Dante Giocosa created a new high-performance sports car, the legendary 8V, or "Otto Vu" in Italian, a two-liter, V8-engined two-seater. It was designed specifically to take on the two litre class, which was a highly contested class of the Italian championship. Fiat faced competition from Maserati, Ferrari and Lancia, who all had a two litre racer.
The Fiat 8V made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show in March of 1952. Fiat was supposed to build 200 8Vs to homologate the car for competition, but the cars were not moving, so the company eventually offered chassis to coachbuilders. While Fiat did not race the 8V, cars were placed with drivers who did, and the first of these, owned by Franco Auricchio, took fifth in class at the 1952 Mille Miglia. Ovidio Capelli, the Milanese Fiat dealer, commissioned Zagato to develop a full-race 8V with a lightweight, aerodynamic body in record time for the Giro della Toscana. There, it placed third in class and went on to take the national two-litre GT championship.
Fiat ended 8V production in September 1954, although many were not completed until 1955 and even 1956. In 1955, Elio Zagato, the famed coachbuilder's son, really put the 8V on the map by winning the two-litre championship, followed by more victories until 1959.
Only 114 examples of Fiat's 8V were built between 1952 and September 1954. Zagato bought 32 chassis in a joint venture with Franco Cornacchia. Four of which already had partial bodywork installed by Fiat. These were modified with aluminum double-bubble top and modified windows appended to the face-lifted steel lower bodywork. These Coupes were called 'Elaborata'. One chassis was used to build a Spyder.
The remaining 27 chassis were fitted with all new lightweight alloy bodies. This small Coupe was simply called 8VZ. Only five of these Coupes feature the famous double-bubble roof. As each car was hand-built to customer order until 1959, each Zagato-bodied 8V Berlinetta was unique, representing a bespoke automobile with subtle variations noted from one car to another.
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