On The Go Outtake: 1957-1958 Fiat 1200 Spyder – Pre-Pininfarina

This caught my attention in traffic heading out West 6th Avenue, and I was just barely able to peel off a couple of Hail Mary shots, as it wasn’t moving and my lane was. It’s a car I’ve never caught in the wild before, and not likely to do so again: a Fiat 1200 Spyder, from about 1957-1958.

It’s not exactly a styling gem; in fact, I’ve never really liked it all that much, as it’s clearly aping an early-mid-50s Cadillac, with the chrome leading edge of its bulbous hips and wrap-around windshield. A Fiat Series 1.2 Convertible.

Fiat’s first crack at the fast-growing sports car market in the fifties was the 1200, which arrived in 1957, based on the popular Fiat 1100 platform. This was not a Pininfarina design, as if that wasn’t all-too obvious. An in-house design by Fabio Rapi, it was trying way too hard to look American, and ends up looking like an amusement park kiddie-ride-mobile.With 53 hp, it probably wasn’t much faster.

Too stubby and bulbous, with overwrought details, including that very badly cribbed vertical chrome strip on the hips à la Cadillac. An Allante, three decades too soon (oops; that was by Pininfarina).

Fiat quickly saw the error of its ways, and hired Pininfarina to design its elegant successor, the 1200 Spyder of 1959. Of course, like so many PF jobs, its themes were also to be soon found on the Peugeot 404 Coupe/Cabrio, as well as of course on Ferraris, in more extravagant versions.

The 1200 became the 1500 Spider/Cabrio, and I spotted one nearby a few years back. The full write-up is here.

I did get a second shot, obviously from my old truck, but it doesn’t reveal much more than the first. We do have a restoration shop that specializes in old Fiats and other Italian cars, so it may well  be coming or going to it.