One of the quintessential Italian sports cars is the Fiat 8V or Otto Vù. It is named after the peculiar 70º V8 engine which takes up little space in the engine bay. Fiat outsourced many 8V bodies to the Italian design houses, thus no two cars are alike and each has a unique style.
As early as 1945, Fiat was working on a eight-cylinder engine which was internally known as Tipo 106. The idea was a new engine for mass production but that never happened so instead a limited series of sports cars were produced.
Released at the 1952 Geneva Auto Show with factory-designed bodywork, the 8V was touted as a competition car and many of the very first 8Vs were also prepared for racing and sold to racing clientele. With a fully independent suspension from the Fiat 1100 and 124 mph top speed, it was competitive in the two-liter classes, winning the Italian GT Championship in 1954.
The 1996cc Ottu Vù engine was designed by Dante Giacosa in aluminum alloy. Its short stroke was suitable for high-revs and a steep power curve. The 8V engine wasn’t used in any other Fiat model, but because of its narrow dimensions several other companies adopted the design including Siata for their 208S.
The V8’s standard specification produced 105bhp at 5,600rpm and Fiat offered a factory option with twin Weber carburetors producing 115bhp. Some engines were fitted with huge four-throat Weber 36 IF4/C carburetors offering 120 bhp, but the intake manifold was very rare.
The engine was fit into a standard steel tube chassis with Fiat 1100 suspension components. With the body welded to the chassis it was a semi-unitary consturction.
Just enough 8Vs were made over to meet international homologation regulations. With lightweight bodywork, the 8V was competitive and won often won the the two-liter class. At Stella Alpini in August 1952, Ovidio Copelli won the 8V’s first trophy. This was followed by Elio Zagato who bodied many of the later competition cars and even won the 1954 Bari three-hour race as a driver.
In total 114 8V’s were produced. The first of these featured Fiat’s body by chief designer Fabio Luigi Rapi. These were built at Fiat’s own Lingotto shop and usually carry a “Carrozzerie Speziali” badge. The prototype used an art deco grill that extended into the hood. A second series was made featuring four headlights with some of the later cars have a full-width windscreen.
Subsequent cars were outsourced to other design houses including Zagato which made around 30 competition models, some in aluminum. Others were sent to Ghia to receive the extravagant supersonic coachwork.
In 1954 a Fiat 8V chassis and components were used to test a gas turbine engine.