1951 Fiat Stanga Barchetta
VIN: 040351 Engine: 750cc Fiat 4 Cylinder Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
Of all of the Italian competition cars that ever graced the race track, Fiat was a name that loomed large. Formed in 1899, Fiat’s cars were running races long before many other companies were even building a car. Fiat’s cars dominated many competitive events for decades and they performed well in their own right, but they also served as the perfect platform for many of Italy’s best competition cars. In 1949, brothers Gianfranco, Sandro, and Camillo Stanga formed a company with the sole purpose of assembling competition cars using the best possible components throughout Italy. By the early 1950s they were offering some of the fastest cars in Europe when they set about to create a masterpiece. With a modified Fiat chassis from the Stanga brothers, an engine from Giannini, and styling by Motto, they created a car car that resembled a smaller scale Ferrari 166 barchetta both in looks and speed like no other Fiat Topolino.
The story starts with Stanga acquiring a Fiat chassis and upgrading it with a redesign using lightweight tubular steel and also reworking the suspension and steering components to competition specifications. Next came a competition engine by Giannini. Brothers Attilio & Domica Giannini were building some of the finest competition engines in the country and were considered the best at what they did. Giannini’s race tuned Fiat engine had been bored to 750cc and was also paired with twin Weber carburetors, a four-speed close ratio gearbox, and a high-compression head. The combination of the Giannini brothers engineering skills and Stanga’s chassis refinements made for a car like no other, but there was one more element needed to bring about a legend and that was a body.
The great coachwork of Motto of Turin proved to be the finishing touch on what would become this historic Italian race car. Although Motto was best known as a carrozzeria for lightweight competition cars on a one-off basis, they were no strangers to the business of custom coachwork for road cars as their designs were found on such great marques as Ferrari, Delahaye, Renault, and Lancia. The secret to Motto’s success for their light-weight competition cars was a clean and elegant design with simple lines that were smooth and flowing and were void of any unnecessary trim or adornments.
It was through the combination of these three entities that this offering, a 1951 Stanga Barchetta with custom coachwork by Motto was created. The refinements to the chassis made by the Giannini brothers coupled with Motto’s lightweight body made for a car that could race with the very best in its class and attract attention on the road. This particular car started out as a 1939 Fiat Topolino race car that formerly ran at the Mille Miglia. Later in 1950-1951 the chassis was modified by the Stanga brothers and fitted with the custom Motto coachwork that it wears today. The early history with its Motto coachwork is unknown, but it was most likely a road car built for a private owner for use on the road and privateer racing. It is possible that this was one of the two Motto barchetta Stangas that ran in the Mille Miglia in the 1950's. Later in its life it was acquired by a dutch collector and competed in many vintage racing and ralley competition events in the 1980's through the 1990s.
The overall condition of the car today is very original showing how well cared for and how well preserved this car has been through the years. It wears an older repaint and has been reupholstered, but under the hood and the undercarriage show it most likely hasn't been touched since 1951. An incredible original example of a custom bodied Fiat. Mechanically it runs and drives extremely well and is capable of speeds in excess of 70 MPH.
It takes a distinct set of circumstances to create a work of art, but at one shining moment the efforts of Stanga, Giannini, and Motto all came together to create a very special part of Italian custom coachwork history. This 1951 Stanga Barchetta is a car that carries a pedigree from several sources and this is proudly displayed in the badges it wears from all of its creators, as such, it is a car that deserves a special place in a special collection of famous unusual race cars and custom road cars. Its rarity, value, and condition are surpassed only by its longing for the open road.