Grand Prix winning Fiat to a star on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Grand Prix winning Fiat to a star on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

To mark Fiat’s 125th birthday

One of the greatest racers from the very early days of motorsport – the mighty Fiat 130HP – will be a star attraction on this year’s RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, on Sunday 3 November.


 
The legendary leviathan will be making its first ever appearance in the UK. Propelled by its monstrous 16.2-litre four-cylinder engine, it will be the biggest-hearted and most powerful machine ever to participate in the world’s greatest annual celebration of pioneering motoring history.


 
This illustrious Italian icon has recently undergone a meticulous, three-year restoration at the famous Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile in Turin, and its eagerly-anticipated debut on the Run will honour the 125th  anniversary of Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino – FIAT – which was founded in 1899.


 
Adding to the excitement, the big red chain-driven behemoth will also be exhibited within the Royal Automobile Club’s rotunda in Pall Mall, London, two weeks before its Veteran Car Run debut.


 
Originally created as one of three team ‘Corsa’ race cars in 1904, the Fiat 130HP reached its zenith in 1907 when its ace driver Felice Nazzaro (black and white photos below) won all three of Europe’s most prestigious road races driving it. First he won the fabled Targa Florio in Sicily;  then the Kaiserpries set on the tortuous 73-mile Taunus mountain track in Germany; and finally, most importantly, the French Grand Prix in Dieppe, where Fiat sensationally defeated the hitherto dominant French on their home soil.


 
Not wanting its race-winning technology to fall into rival hands, Fiat routinely destroyed its Corsas once their competitive days were over. However, Nazzaro’s victorious car was saved by Fiat’s French importer as a promotional tool.

 

The Dieppe victor was then acquired by Louis-Auguste Antony, an innovative cyclecar manufacturer and racer, for his personal transport before being abandoned to rot in his garden. It was then discovered and partially restored in the 1950s by Francis Mortarini, a renowned French purveyor of historic cars. Subsequently, this 130HP was purchased by Fiat and presented into the loving care of the museum in Turin.


 
“We are truly honoured to have this Grand Prix racing icon lining up for the 2024 RM Sotheby’s Veteran Car Run – moreover, what better way for Fiat to be celebrating its 125th anniversary,” said Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club. “The once-in-a-lifetime presence of such an incredible machine on the road to Brighton is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser – an amazing sight and, dare I say, sound. No car enthusiast will want to miss seeing it in action.” 

 

Cussons is also delighted this unique machine will be displayed in the Club’s rotunda, especially as a vivid Guy Lipscombe oil painting depicting Nazzaro’s epic 1907 French Grand Prix win graces the Clubhouse walls


 
As well as paying tribute to Fiat’s 125th birthday, this year’s RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run will also celebrate the 120th anniversary of The Ladies’ Automobile Club with a number of activities acclaiming the major roles women have performed in both motoring and motorsport ever since.


 
For all owners of pre-1905 veteran cars wishing to join the fearsome Fiat 130HP on the hallowed road to Brighton, entries for the 2024 event are now open with considerable savings for ‘early birds’ booking their participation before 2 July. Entries finally close on 18 September.  


 


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