Richard Dredge
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Richard Dredge

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Richard Dredge
Author

Richard Dredge

Fiat 1100 cabriolet by Allemano

Back in the 1950s, the Italians loved to rebody anything they could, including cheap family saloons

Fiat’s Nuova 1100 (sometimes known as the 1100/103 after its internal project number), made its debut in 1953 as a thoroughly modern replacement for the 1100E, which was an evolution of the pre-war Balilla. The Nuova 1100 ushered in a new era of monocoque construction with a fully enveloped 'ponton' body style, and while this new mid-sized family car was attractive, as is the Italian way, dozens and dozens of coachbuilders felt there was room for improvement and they quickly began reinterpreting the design.

Coachbuilding in much of the world was rapidly disappearing in the early 1950s, but in Italy it was enjoying a remarkable renaissance. As such, most of the major Italian coachbuilders introduced their own versions of the Nuova 1100 at the 1953 Turin Salon, or soon after. Some of these carrozzerias included Balbo, Fissore, Ermini, Gianni along with OSI, and also in there was Carrozzeria Allemano, which displayed both a cabriolet and coupé designed by Giovanni Michelotti.

Michelotti’s design was the subject of much appreciation at the show, with Auto Italiana writing “Finally the two magnificent ... versions of an original and beautiful 2-seater based on Fiat’s ‘New 1100’ with a very personalised front and lines styled by Michelotti.”

In a review of the most important styling themes seen at the show, the Michelotti Nuova 1100 Allemano models were repeatedly featured and highlighted due to their distinctive design. One reporter also noted that they were priced at “a very tempting 1,800,000 Lire” ($2880 or £1056) – when the standard Fiat 1100 saloon weighed in at 975,000 lire, or £572.

The Allemano-bodied Fiat's design was certainly elegant, clean and unfussy in the signature style preferred by Michelotti and his carrozzeria boss Serafino Allemano. Perhaps the most notable feature of the body is the distinctive split grille that tapers to an aggressive point in the centre. Some seven years before the Ferrari 156 F1 car and the 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Bertone coupé that was inspired by it, Michelotti had drawn his own ‘shark nose’ for this handsome little Fiat.

These special Allemano Fiats were produced in a very small series through 1953 before being succeeded by a different Michelotti design in 1954. It's thought that just two coupés and four cabriolets were produced, with only one coupé and two cabriolets known to exist today.

This example, #019195, was built in autumn 1953 and received its Statement of Conformity on 31 December 1953. The first owner, Augusto Scalese, paid a hefty 2,511,000 lire for it. That was the equivalent of $4016, which was enough to secure a Cadillac Series 62, while in the UK the £1473 that this equalled, was the same value as a Citroen Big Fifteen and £400 more than an Austin Healey Hundred.

The car pictured was sold by Hyman Ltd, which comments:

The car was registered on 5 September 1954 with the registration number NA 86282, a plate which it still wears to this day. Prior to restoration it was discovered that some slight modifications to the bodywork were made in the late 1950s to meet the ‘nuova codice stradale’, the most important component of which dictated rear lights with separate amber lenses. As was common at the time, 1959 production Fiat 1100 rear light units were used. In order to accommodate the larger lights, the rear wing line was modified and once fitted, a new bumper was made and fitted. A light restoration in the early 1980s saw the Fiat finished in an ivory colour with a black canvas soft top and red vinyl interior. The original wheel covers were also replaced at this time, and for unknown reasons, a number of pieces of original badging were left off the car.

Since then, a thoroughly researched and meticulously executed restoration has brought this historic design back to its original and correct form, specifically through recreating the rear wing line and the correct tail lights as designed by Michelotti in 1953. The badges as seen on the car when delivered were recreated and returned to be fitted in the exact place, as shown by the holes uncovered in the original panels when the car was stripped for restoration.

The original-style wheel covers were painstakingly recreated from new to finish the appearance. During the restoration preparation, the original color of the body, Azzurro metallizzato, was found and a remaining fragment of the correct original Bordeaux vinyl trim was matched for the upholstery, returning this fabulous design back to the condition it was when Augusto Scalese first took delivery of his very special Fiat.

 

Vital statistics
Produced 1953-1954, Italy
Number built 6
Engine Front-mounted, 1089cc, 4-cylinder
Transmission 4-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power 35.5bhp at 4400rpm
Top speed 77mph (standard 1100)
0-60mph 26.4 seconds (standard 1100)
Price 2.5m lire ($4000, £1473)

 

Many thanks to Hyman Ltd for the use of its pictures to illustrate this article.

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