Estates and stationwagons are the new black in the classic car scene. It’s a known fact which we’ve also put in writing previously here on ViaRETRO. But that’s clearly not just some new phenomenon. When a well-established Italian carrozzeria better known for sleek coupés set about designing and constructing beautifully shaped estates in the fifties, they were already then regarded as much more than just simple workhorses.
If you’re only into high performance sports cars and roadsters, then please move on. This one is not for you. But if you’re more turned on by the rare, obscure and stylish, then you might want to read on. Carozzeria Viotti was established as early as 1921 in Turin, thereby comfortably predating many of the later and bigger Italian coachbuilders known so well today. They did well for themselves too, designing several striking race cars in their early years where they were at the forefront of aerodynamic technology. In my humble opinion, Viotti’s masterpiece was his streamlined 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Coupé. In fact, not just was it the most spectacular design he ever penned, but perhaps even the most extravagant yet sublimely elegant of all the coachbuilt 8C’s – which is really saying something! With Viotti being capable of creating such beauty, I reckon just about anything else originating from his hand, is worth at least a look.
That applies even if it’s just an estate based on a humble 1950s Fiat. In the early fifties Viotti created a small niche market for himself by building stylish woody estates based on the innovative Lancia Aurelia. These were typically purchased by the wealthy in need of practical yet comfortable transport for the full-size Italian family. From here Viotti expanded by moving half a notch down market, as he started to offer similar woody conversions based on Fiat 1400’s. By the mid-fifties, the woodies started falling out of vogue, which led to Viotti creating this bang-up-to-date Fiat 1100 Giardinetta. It perfectly encompasses the time, mimicking the period and very popular 1955 Chevrolet Belair Nomad – only of course somewhat smaller and with a subtle European flair. While naturally being both cheaper and simpler than his Lancia based estates, this was still a rather expensive car in its time, and certainly not intended as a utilitarian van or workhorse of any sort.
This Viotti Giardinetta currently available on the market is of 1957 vintage. It’s ridiculously rare and seemingly in fabulous condition too. It appears to retain a large amount of originality, and presents very smart indeed in two-tone silver over light blue metallic. Judging by the pictures, brightwork looks to all be present (essential as you’re probably not going to find a missing piece on eBay anytime soon…) and with a good shine too, just as the interior equally presents very tidy. Sadly though, the selling vintage Rolls-Royce & Bentley specialist in the south of England doesn’t provide much other information. Instead though they do have plenty of good high-resolution pictures of both exterior and interior on their website. Here’s a small selection of them:
Admitted, I’m not entirely sure how to judge the £ 45,000 asking price. On the one hand, it’s certainly a lot of cash for a fifties Fiat 1100. But on the other, you could argue that it’s a bargain for a coachbuilt era-defining rarity in what appears to be largely perfect condition. If you have the financial means for this one, it would certainly offer a both stylish and charmingly Italian way of touring the country (or maybe even further) this coming summer. You would even have space to bring the kids…
Visit the dealers website to see the full advert here: 1957 Fiat 1100 Giardinetta
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org