We always think of the first production fiberglass car in America as being the 1953 Corvette – and for all intents and purposes that assertion is right. As Raffi Minasian has discussed with me many times, production infers consistency in product, design, and build. A few hand-crafted cars would rarely if ever be identified as “production” per se by most in the industry familiar with the term and definition of the word “production.”
And that means that our 1950’s fiberglass cars are more properly identified as “hand-crafted” cars – a term I’m entirely comfortable with and proud of. And one we’ll be celebrating at the 2013 Milwaukee Masterpiece in August of this year.
So why the opening here in this story concerning the concept of “production?” Well… what would constitute the first foreign production fiberglass car? While we can begin that debate over time let me toss in something I saw recently on David Greenles’ wonderful website called “The Old Motor.” David highlighted something new to both of us – A Fiat 8V in fiberglass.
“Very interesting…it must be a prototype built to demonstrate how fiberglass could be used,” I thought to myself. “Fiberglass,” after all, was the “carbon fiber” of its day back in the early to mid 1950s. But I wanted to know more so I dug a bit deeper.
I found a Motor Trend article printed in November, 1954 discussing the same prototype but suggesting that the remaining Fiat 8V’s would be welded together using sheet steel. This contrasted with other websites (click here to see one such website) that suggested more than 100 Fiat 8V’s were built out of fiberglass – exactly the opposite of what was said back in the day by Motor Trend.
Finding contradictory information is not a new thing here at Forgotten Fiberglass. And…if I were a bettin’ man I do believe that the prototype was the only one built from ‘glass. Otherwise…I’m sure we would have heard of more fiberglass Fiat 8V’s out there. And we haven’t. Or at least I haven’t. And that’s where each of you comes in.
So…are any of you willing to research this mystery a bit more – a beautiful mystery that is with the 1954 Fiat 8V leading your way? I know that all of us here at Forgotten Fiberglass would be interested in what you find. The Fiat 8V is a striking car in every way and one whose relationship to the use of fiberglass may be an individual ‘glass prototype – or very much more – the first production fiberglass sports car outside of America. The results of your research will let us know 🙂
Go get ‘em gang!
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
Update on 11/21/19 from Dan Palatnik
Photo with info on the fiberglass Fiat 8V below: