Lender: Collection of Paul Gould, Pawling, New York

Sponsored by: Michael P. Ralsky, GlobalGR

Giovanni Savonuzzi, who would later become the chief designer for Carrozzeria Ghia, created the design of the Fiat 8V Supersonic as a one-off design for his friend, Virgilio Conrero. The aircraft-inspired Supersonic design would become influential in performance and styling and helped establish Savonuzzi as perhaps the most important but one of the least known of the Italian designers from 1945 to 1975.

Savonuzzi not only designed the chassis frame and suspension tweaks for the Alfa components Conrero used, he also came up with this startling shape, including the aggressive, missile shaped headlamps. Applying what he had learned from wind tunnels while studying engineering, and from his experiences with Cisitalia racing cars, Savonuzzi achieved an on-the-road drag coefficient lower than the best cars in production at that time. Fiat built only 114 copies of the 8V Supersonic, and sold approximately one hundred additional bare chassis carrying its unusual narrow-angle (70-degree) V-8 engine to Turin-based sports car specialist Siata, and other coachbuilders such as Ghia. The Supersonics were relatively fast, but they were not really competition cars, as they were too big and heavy for serious racing. That did not prevent some of them from running in the classical Mille Miglia (1000 Miles) races post WWII, where they performed respectably.

—Adapted from the exhibition catalogue essay by Robert Cumberford

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