The first genuine Italian subcompact automobile, the Fiat 508 holds an important place in the country’s automotive history. Developed by a “who’s who” of the country’s best engineers, including Dante Giacosa, it was popularly nicknamed ‘Balilla’ after a military hero of the 18th century who was becoming well known again in this era of Italian nationalism. By the admission of one of its designers, Antonio Fessia, “there was nothing original” in the design, but where the 508 succeeded was in getting so much of itself right the first time. It was comfortable enough for those who desired comfort and economical enough for those who required economy while also being priced attractively at 10,000 lire—versus the 25,000 lire charged for the Fiat 509 built only three years prior.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ‘Balilla’ became an immediate success both in the Italian press and in the salesrooms, with 112,000 being built between 1932 and 1937. It was manufactured not only in Italy, but also in locations as diverse as Germany, France, and even Poland, thus seeing Fiat’s popularity spread across the European continent. The significance of the ‘Balilla’ to the company’s success in the 20th century cannot be overestimated.
First delivered on the 18th of September 1935 to the Azienda Elettrica Governativa in Rome, this particular Fiat Balilla is one of the few examples produced from the factory as a Van. Over recent years this FIAT Servizio Course Van has been restored to its former glory and a special note goes to its mobile front screen and beautifully restored woodwork in the rear.
Due to their rarity, these Fiat Balilla 508 Van’s are very desirable cars for many collectors. Sold with a bill of sale.