110 MPH Terror From Italy: A Tuned Fiat 1100 TV by Pininfarina
Photography by: Rosario Liberti
The summer is dedicated to car enthusiasts: the Mille Miglia, Goodwood, Villa d’Este, and so many others are among the major events that we wait for all year long, plus every weekend, you can go to different local car gatherings.
Even if your Sunday involves a relaxing walk in a park with your beloved better half, you cannot avoid stepping into some vintage iron awaiting for you at your destination…which came as a disappointing surprise for my girlfriend! A surprise car show made me enjoy my Sunday afternoon ice cream even more, however!
A local club parked all the cars inside the park right under the trees. It was a classic combination of Porsche 356s, Jaguar E-Types, Beetles, Giuliettas, and…a Fiat 1100 by Pininfarina!
After this year’s Mille Miglia, I developed quite an affection to the Fiat 1100. It is a fun, usable, and competitive little car. It is fun to drive, light, and mesmerizingly beautiful. You can imagine my surprise when I first saw the Pininfarina bodied cousin of our “Confetto” under the light of the sunset.
This particular Fiat came as a pleasant surprise and I was determined to make an article out of it: it’s not possible to have enough millecento in your life!
The owner of the car you see pictured here is a true gentleman driver: an energetic and generous person who works hard during the week and loves to share his passion for cars with other enthusiasts. His Pininfarina is one of his most treasured possessions, and one of the cars he has owned and raced for a long time.
After we met at the park, we organized a first meeting in a local mechanic shop and then a photoshoot in the park of the small town of Rovellasca. The owner, Giancarlo, was keen in showing me a particular feature of the car: the Branca tuned engine.
As a long term racing enthusiast, Giancarlo handed over the 1,100-cc inline 4-cylinder to famous Milanese tuner Aquilino Branca, one of the most successful “magicians” of the ’50s and ’60s. With great pride, Giancarlo told me that he sent the engine over to Branca while he was restoring the car in the 1990s. With a big smile on his face, he proudly states that this engine was the last ever made by Branca and that it is capable of 8,000 rpm and has 100 bhp. “You can have it up to 110 mph if you want,” said Giancarlo with a smile on his face: and he wasn’t joking. The engine is probably the single aspect that matters the most to Giancarlo, as it continues the heritage of a great car enthusiast and a legend .
“Aquilino Branca was one of the greatest Italian tuners,” he says. “He was a friend of mine and a capable race car builder: during his career he almost got into Formula 1. He was successful in F3 and Formula Junior, and was a true expert on 1100 engines. On this one in particular, he installed new carburetor, intake, exhaust, ported heads, high compression pistons…the usual tune up. The results were impressive.”
Giancarlo purchased the car from a friend of his in 1985—then it took 20 years to restore. This one is his own special car: he drives it only for occasions, and he doesn’t race it anymore.
“I use it because I want to keep it clean, but it is no garage queen. It’s a fabulous little thing to drive that brightens up your mood. Every time I drive it, I just smile. That’s how it is,” Giancarlo says.