oldcar

1922 Fiat 501 Targa Florio

Recommended Posts

Hello, are there any "Vintage" Fiat enthusiasts out there?

Many of the AACA people will already know my name but have not seen very much of me in this (Italian) part of the forum. 

I am about to embark on a new project and right now the most likely candidate is a early "20s Fiat 501. 

These are an interesting little car with a four cylinder, side valve engine of just under 1.5 Litres,  In 1922 the Fiat ran a team of three cars in that years Targa Florio. In this photograph you see Carlo Gasparin in one of the specially prepared Corsa Biposta cars. In various period photographs you see cars numbered 4 to 6. each with slight differences, i.e. At least one was fitted with wire spoke wheels and there were minor variations in the body design. In this photograph the car is fitted with standard factory "Sankey" steel artillery wheels. There are also variations to the amount of protection the driver and riding mechanic were given from the wind. In fact due to their pressed steel construction these are little or no heavier than the wire spoke wheels available at the time. Being "bolt on" type they avoid the expensive (to make) machined splines of "Knock-on" hubs. It would appear that a stock standard cast iron exhaust manifold is linked to the "sporting" outside exhaust pipe.

My first task will be to decide which of two basket case cars that are on offer to me to buy. The car in the second photograph may be one or two years later. It is different in a number of features. Most of the period photographs show cars wearing single digit race numbers, (4, 5 &  8)

 

Bernie j.

 

Carlo_Gasparin_in_his_Fiat_at_the_1922_Targa_Florio.thumb.jpg.cfce8f8756d65f3331517b858b5dbbf5.jpg

 

 

23fiat.jpg.97bc1631f9326d865d9f939bb660040b.jpg

 

5a5ed92f87de7_Periodphotoimages-4.jpeg.6d57f15962b78030dff6ad76ade77068.jpeg

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are quite a few 501s in NZ as you may know. I know of two which have the Silvani overhead valve conversion. I think there is another one in Oz. A friend of mine was something of an expert on them but unfortunately he passed away a couple of years ago. He was a talented fitter and turner cum engineer and project he had done was to produce gear sets to increase the ratio of the lower gears in the 501 box. I think some of his sets went to Oz. Once you get to know the local Fiat community you may hear about that. I rode in the Fiat several times. With the ohv conversion, a more modern carb and taller overall gearing it would cruise with the traffic. His container of parts is still at my place but I don't think there is much left on the way of Fiat stuff.

 

This is a well known local car whose owner I know. It has been in regular and enthusiastic use for many years.

 34270069175_3993bb36b4_b.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank You, both very interesting cars! 

My own background in Fiats has been in 1950s and 60s cars, An 1100 sedan, three 500 Topolinos, an 2OHC OSCA 1500 roadster and an 1100 hillclimb special.

 

Bj.

5a5f2934d60b8_FiatOSCA1500.jpg.266b1253e683d0c44db77a88f22819d1.jpg

 

5a5f2a02033a7_GillespieFiat1100_024.thumb.jpg.3654e1c9eabed7c816d69bc35cc4e274.jpg

 

 

 

 

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Paul

Good to see you along for the ride, nothing much will be happening for a week or two, I still have to decide which of two "basket case" Fiats to buy but I will keep you well informed. If I had more space I might buy both but then that would be going against all my principals. The old addage still holds true if only in my own case. "One at a time is good fishing! or should that be "Fiating"?

Bj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

VP155-Bergese-Fiat-501-TF1922.thumb.jpg.74a2723a8242220690e39a9a876a113c.jpg

 

Here is another example of a Targa Florio Fiat 501, this one probably 1923-4 as it has front brakes in addition to the wire spoke wheels. Interestingly it is still wearing bead edge (clincher) tyres. It is driven by 'Bergese". This one has just the one "cowl" in front of the driver. The riding mechanic does not enjoy this level of protection from the wind etc. The passenger's main duty was to maintain pressure in the fuel tank, using a dash mounted hand air pump. While on level ground or when travelling down hill,  gravity took care of getting petrol to the carb, going up hill it needed some assistance. All these cars have hand crank-handles for starting. There was some considerable weight saving to be made by deleting the electric starter motor and battery along with the generator. In addition the generator would have consumed a certain amount of power.

Looking at "period" photographs it seems as though there were minor variations to the bodies fitted to individual cars probably dictated by driver preference. I hope that all this is not too boring for you. All these seemingly minor details will come into play when it comes to building a new body on the yet to be purchased 501 chassis. The same could be said for the layout of the exhaust system. No two cars appear to be exactly the same. For example this car has seperate swept exhaust pipes feeding into the main large diameter pipe, this appears to be flattened where it runs inbetween the body and the rear tire. Again there are several versions of the "under- tray" running back from below the radiator and  underneath the engine and gearbox.  How many of you noticed the long, passenger, steam train in the background or the Policeman's Rain-cape worn in conjunction with short trousers and long "stockings"?  It is also worth comparing the road surface with today's silky smooth roads. It is easy to see why the mesh "stone -guard" in front of the radiator was so essential.

 

Bj

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello again

We have just returned from looking at our first possible project "car". I am sorry to have to tell you that we did not buy it. In effect it would have been an ideal car for us to buy. It was a completely dismantled 22 or 23 Fiat 501 unfortunately missing little things such as all the instruments etc and all the nuts and bolts etc required to put it back together again. The other unfortunate thing was that the vendor would not even start to discuss price over the telephone. This was a pity because it could saved us a trip across town. The amount he was hoping to be paid and the figure that I would have been prepared to pay were at completely different ends of the spectrum and could not be seen even as a basis for negotiation. One could safely say that we were many thousands of dollars apart! 

We do have another collection of bits to look at hopefully during the next week. At least we know that this vendor is much more realistic in his expectations. Just don't hold your breath.

 

Sorry, we did not even bother to take any photographs. Perhaps next time.

 

Bernie j.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bernie, I know you will let us know when you have any news. But just wanted you to know I'm keeping a close eye on the Italian car section of the forum. :)

 

Hope you are doing well, and touring in the Lagonda.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Paul. 
No but today I have actually done some work on the Lagonda which is fully reported on my Rapier thread. No one could be more frustrated than me when It comes to buying a "basket case"  Fiat. I have two in the possible pipeline. Both have been dismantled for some (many) years. One I have actually been to look at and have made what I thought was a generous offer. I am now waiting to hear again from the Vendor. The other I have spoken on the phone to the owner who has told me that he is anxious to sell. I have agreed to pay his price and I am waiting to hear from him. It seems that his phone is locked on to his answering service which he never checks for messages. I must have left at least a dozen. 

I may ring the first gentleman either later today or tomorrow to see if he has given the sale of his Fiat any more thought..

 

Bj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am definitely a vintage FIAT enthusiast,  particularly the 1910's and 20's cars. The good thing about a 501 is that there a lot of parts about, especially mechanicals. Every swap meet seems to have one of those brass hubcaps, so there must have been a lot come here (Australia) from new. There was also a 501S, which I think came to Australia, and the 501SS which was more of a works machine -I doubt that one made it here. The FIAT club of Victoria has a very active pre-war scene, and their newsletter FIATmonth Magazine has a section devoted to pre-war FIAT's.

Edited by Craig Gillingham (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yesterday I bought what I am told was over 40 years of collecting 501/3 parts, there is more than enough to assemble a complete rolling chassis along with almost enough for a second. It is going to take the vendor a couple of weeks to get it all out and loaded onto his trailer but he has very kindly offered to deliver it all for me. Now I have to organise myself and make room for it all. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

BjIMG_4840.thumb.JPG.ed638bce7db92901d2c1b28de2b87037.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Among the copious file of information that comes with the 'car' is the original 1923 Owners hand book and a collection of other really useful printed  material, photographs and hand written notes, unfortunately most of these are written in pencil and have faded quite badly. One of these records the prices of petrol over a range of years. During the years shown Australian currency was still in Pounds, Shillings and Pence. At the time of the change to Decimal ten shillings was equal to one Australian dollar, as shown in 1947 an Imperial Gallon of petrol cost about 35 cents.

There is also another Hand-book a 1964 reprint all in Italian. Even so the illustrations and diagrams are much

clearer,  the original 1923 English version of the wiring diagram also gives the translation,  Italian to English.5a84c3422d7a9_Chassisphoto2.thumb.jpeg.5cdd450b462875e600692a8a5ccbec09.jpeg5a84c34f906a0_Chassisphoto3.thumb.jpeg.7f731110cabb6dbb38841d6ccf2f3bae.jpeg 

 5a84bf812ecdf_Chassisphoto1.thumb.jpeg.af533a3c7fa6238e726f0c0ffa7028f1.jpeg5a84bc9602071_PetrolPrices.thumb.jpeg.9b160e9d038360be05c6a6388e748b9c.jpeg5a84bca29bba7_Chassisphoto.thumb.jpeg.ca92b5b2674548120b545092d7f14951.jpeg

5a84bbcde6c42_FiatOwnershandbook.thumb.jpeg.ecc75c275c78f2e2a9e1ddc99402a503.jpeg . 

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also included is a reprint of the 1923 English Autocar Magazine's Care & Maintenance series devoted to the Fiat. I have seen the relevant Articles related to other makes before but not the Fiat. These are an excellent reference and  often mention things that are not always covered in the owners hand-books.

Autocar  reprint.jpeg

Autocar  reprint 2.jpeg

Autocar  reprint 1.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only now I have discovered that the Fiat "basket case" I have bought but not yet have at home is actually a 1923 503. The main difference is an improved combustion chamber shape and front wheel brakes. These brakes have the added attraction of large finned drums.

You, as I do, will have to be patient! I do not expect to have it home for another week or possibly two.

 

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately Paul it is out of my hands, the vendor was extremely kind in offering to unpack it all out of his rather large garage, load it onto his trailer and deliver it for me. I really cannot argue with that.  

Bernie j.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to disappoint you Craig

It is definitely a 503, there are also some 501 bits mixed in. I really will not know exactly what is there until i have it all at home.

Bj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having actually managed to speak on the 'phone with the vendor yesterday, he tells me that he has almost got everything loaded onto his trailer and hopes to deliver it next weekend so there is some light at the end of the Fiat tunnel.  

Bj

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good news Bernie. Looking forward to pictures. I must say that thru your posts on the AACA forum I've learned about some interesting cars that I would have otherwise never known about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Paul

I am happy to assist... Living in Australia has its advantages, it has given us access to both the American and the European Car markets, and now, as with I suspect the rest of the world, we are swamped with  Korean and Japanese cars, those and for the well heeled, German luxury models.

Back in the days when these were somthing of a novelty ......... But that was a long time ago!

Recently my 12 year old Grandson, who is an absolute car nut, was excited to learn that I had bought New, first a Mazada 626 2 door coupe and then a Celica (Mustang look alike) fast back Coupe.

Both acted as tow cars for my single seat Rapier "special". We must have had some hairy interstate trips, leaving Friday after-noon to drive about 600 miles over night, scrutineering Saturday morning, practice Saturday afternoon, Party Saturday Night, Race Sunday. Then drive the 600 miles home to arrive in time to have a shower then off to work on Monday morning. We must have been mad!

 I remember being in a Highway All Night Coffee Stop when some one came in to ask who owned the RED racing car, one of my friends said that it was his. The fellow traveller then asked, "Did he know that he had left it in the centre of there road about 100 miles back ?". In the rush to get on the road and back home, He must have forgotten to tie it down. As a result it had quietly slipped off his trailer to come to rest in the middle of the highway, while he drove on unconcerned. Fortunately this was in the middle of the night so there was not very much traffic.

 

Bernie j

 

5a94813359b78_AmilcarRapier004.thumb.jpg.4e9f1c307b03e460c8f8b3e668dc3a99.jpg

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now