Showing posts with label 1950s Classic Sports Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1950s Classic Sports Cars. Show all posts

Fiat 8V

Fiat 8V 1950s Italian classic sports car

Had the 8V - or, Otto Vu - been built in the US, it would have been dubbed the V8! But since it was, of course, built in Italy, the Fiat powers that be opted to call it the 8V. Then again, countries often do things different ways round - like letting people drive on the wrong side of the road, for instance! Anyway - the engine in question was a 2-litre 70° V8 ... in American money, that is. Whatever the nomenclature, once put through its paces, Fiat declared itself well-pleased with the result.

The 8V was released in '52. At the beginning of the Fifties, the upper echelons at Fiat were in disarray. Rumours spread that chicanery and sharp practice were rife. In fact, it was an ideal time to consider climbing Fiat's corporate ladder. Young Dante Giacosa - head of testing - saw the new car as a chance to impress. Amidst all the chaos, his superiors made it clear the 8V needed to deliver.

The 8V was conceived as a luxury sedan. So impressive, though, was its V8 motor, that thoughts soon turned to the sports car market. Initially, the 8V served up 105bhp. That was later upped to 115. After still more development, it finally maxed out at 127bhp. Top speed was a handy 190km/h. The 8V's price tag was 2,850,000 lire. Value was added by all-round independent suspension - a first for Fiat. Originally, the idea was to lengthen - and co-opt - the Fiat 1400 chassis. Then have Pininfarina work its stylistic magic on top. Excess weight, however, put the kibosh on that plan. Into the design breach stepped Fiat's Fabio Rapi. It was his proprietary bodywork which bewitched visitors to '52's Geneva Motor Show. Just 114 8Vs, though, would subsequently be built. By '54 - a mere two years after its launch - it was game over for the 8V coupé. A bit of a damp squib, then, all in all? In a way - but, during its brief lifespan, the 8V returned Fiat to the sports car fold. It got the illustrious Italian firm back on track - manufacturing classy, fast and agile automobiles!

Riley RM

Riley RM 1950s British classic sports car

By the time the RM series was launched - in '45 - Riley's glory days seemed gone. Dating back to 1898, the firm had produced a steady stream of successful saloon and sports cars, throughout the '20s and most of the '30s. At race circuits, too, Rileys met with much success. Sales had been consistently impressive. By the late Thirties, though, financial fissures were forming. As a result, '38 saw Nuffield take over the Riley reins. It worked. Before long, there was a resurgence of interest from investors. And, the post-war launch of the RM series saw Riley right back on track.

The RMA and RMB models were stylish saloons. Timber frames were wrapped in swooping steel bodywork. Topping it all off was a woven removable roof. Both A and B were fitted with Riley's high-cam inline-four engine. The A was good for 75mph. The B took that out to 95mph. Riley's motor had the longest stroke of any post-war British production car. As you would expect, then, torque came by the barrelful. Again, both A and B featured torsion-bar independent front suspension. So, good handling was also a given.

The most glamorous member of the RM club was the C. Since it was a tilt at the American market, it came with column gear-change. Well, it was only polite! Other notable updates were a fold-flat screen and lower bonnet-line. The RMC was pure roadster - to wit, an open 3-seater, with cutaway doors. In due course, the RMD appeared - as a 4-seater drop-head. It reverted to a more traditional body than the C. Completing the series were the RME and RMF. Improvements included hydraulic brakes, a hypoid back-axle and larger rear windows. In '54, Riley revisited the E version. It received the honour of the final RM makeover. Its running boards were removed - and headlight pods streamlined. A set of rear wheel spats was grafted on. By this point, though, Riley were clutching at straws, commercially. Revered as it had been, the brand-name was now in decline. There would be one final throw of the Riley dice - in the form of the Pathfinder. But - according to critics - its four-cylinder motor was about all it had going for it. Back in the day, however, Riley combined British panache with sporting prowess. The RM series had made that abundantly clear!