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. It was an ideal time, then, to climb 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!