This 1973 Fiat 238 Officially Served Belgium’s Biggest Ferrari Dealer
Normally, an old Fiat panel van wouldn’t brighten the eyes of a supercar enthusiast. Oh, sure, they may be quirky and cute, but they’re not exactly an appealing addition to most collections. But this one, a 1973 Fiat 238, may be a little more desirable for most: not only is it painted in Ferrari colours, but it comes by those honestly with the provenance of being the shop van for one of the most important European Ferrari dealerships in history.
This Fiat 238, offered for sale by RM Sotheby’s on their online ‘Open Roads, the European Summer Auction’ from July 12 to 20, was used by Garage Francorchamps in Belgium in the 1970s. The shop was founded by Belgian race driver Jacques Swater, who raced Formula 1 and sports cars in the 1950s. He had also formed a race team in the early ’50s, Ecurie Francorchamps, which was involved in F1 and endurance racing up to the 1970s, with its highlight being an overall win at the 1965 500km Spa.
Having bought a Ferrari 500 Formula 2 car for racing, he was asked by the carmaker in 1952 to clear up a customs problem, which he did, and as a reward he was appointed the official dealer for Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg the same year. His relationship with Ferrari was so good that the Prancing Horse decided to unveil its then-new 456 in Garage Francorchamps in 1992, as well as introduce a new colour to the brand, ‘Blue Swaters’, all to celebrate a 40-year partnership. He also was an avid Ferrari collector, and displayed a collection of rare Ferraris as well as many personal gifts from Enzo himself in his Galleria Ferrari museum. Maranello itself took over the Garage in 2004, and Swaters passed away in 2010.
The 238 originally owned by Garage Francorchamps is in unrestored condition, and while it has a bit of rust eating at it here and there, it still retains its hand-painted logos of both the garage and Ferrari. Front-wheel drive means it has a low, flat load floor, but the engine is currently seized and will need work to get running. Regardless, with its wonderful patina and historic background, this little van would be right at home beside gleaming, million-dollar Ferraris in any collection. It’s being offered at no reserve.
*Images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s