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Exceptional Motor Cars and Automobilia, Christies (6 December 2005)

Red with black leather interior

Engine: four cylinder, side valve, 1,438cc, 35bhp at 3,500 rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: front and rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive

By the end of the 1920s the first mass-production Fiat, the much-loved Tipo 509 was growing a little long in the tooth, and so the company opted to replace it with a new slightly larger car of similar aims, which they designated the '514' - a type name rather than specific reference to an aspect of the model. This new car did not carry the same appeal as its forebear, possibly more due to the economic climate of the 1930s than the car itself. Offered in saloon, convertible, two door coupé and torpedo forms, these were made in numerous quantities, some 30,000 by NSU in Germany. But while mass-production continued, there remained a highly specialised division devoted to building special versions of the chassis.

Surely the most successful applications of the chassis, three variants were built, a Sport 'S', Coppa delle Alpi 'CA' and this, the Mille Miglia 'MM'. To give an idea of how modest the production of these cars was relative to the main business, just 6 MM cars were built in 1930! These sporting variants featured a developed version of the 1,438cc engine, with hotter camshaft and raised compression ratio amongst other tweaks, increasing the bhp by 25 they also sported elegant two seater bodywork which in retrospect looks like the origins of their later Coppa d'Oro 'Balilla' sports cars.

Just two of these cars survive today, this car and another which lives in the Fiat Centro Storico collection. It seems that this example was sold new in Italy in 1930. Although no early competition history is known, a cursory review of Mille Miglia entries for this period show a number of 514 MMs on the event, so there may still be some racing history to be discovered. After 5 years it was imported to the UK by the legendary British Bugatti Concessionaire Jack Lemon Burton, and at this time there is again some suggestion that the car might have been campaigned, possibly being raced at Brooklands, but, if it is true, this has yet to be substantiated. The car next surfaced in the Sunbury area in 1952 and it was at around this time that it came into contact with the current owner, who immediately fell in love with it and having grown tired of his own Austin Seven project, negotiated its purchase.

By the early 1960s the car was looking a little worse for wear, so a restoration was undertaken by Hoffman and Burton in Henley. On its completion, at a sports car meeting at Silverstone, the Fiat gained the praise of Bill Boddy who recorded it is in his Motorsport review of the event as a 'peach of a car'! A more accurate or succinct description is difficult to find for this jewel-like model, which from its flared wings to compact tail looks every bit as attractive as some of the larger competition cars its country produced and perhaps even more fun. In more recent times the car has once again been restored, this time by Classic Car Workshop of Sussex.

With just two of these sporting Fiats surviving and an allusion to earlier racing history, this is not only a rare car but an intriguing example of the marque. With the added benefit of its long term ownership and the possibility of future use in events such as the Mille Miglia, it is an extremely attractive proposition.

Lot Details
Auction Exceptional Motor Cars and Automobilia
Christies, Jack Barclay Showroom, London
Lot Number67
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)£54050
Condition rating0
Registration numberKMG 867
Chassis number226945
Engine numberTba
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors