Wednesday, 17 July 2013

1954 Fiat Turbina

Words & photos: Daniel Bevis

Look at this Fiat. Now look away, rub your eyes, and look again. See? It's still there. This thing actually exists.

The 1954 Turbina prototype represents the concatenation of everything that was wonderful about nineteen-fifties aspirational design: scallops, fins, a Batmobile-esque afterburner... the fact that it was a workable experiment in alternative propulsion is almost a side issue. The eye is drawn by the gorgeous weirdness, the drivetrain comes as a surprising bonus.
Of the various post-war experiments with gas turbine powered road cars - remember Rover's brutal efforts? - Fiat's Turbina was one of the prettier and more resolved. It was effective too; the slippery shape had an amazingly low drag coefficient, and with its two compressor stages and one turbine stage, it produced around 300bhp at 22,000rpm. The project was ultimately abandoned due to insurmountable overheating issues and spectacularly high fuel consumption, but you have to admire the effort. Imagine the dapper Italian gents of the mid-fifties, standing atop the factory on the aerial test-track, clipboards and stopwatches in hand, watching this fantastical slice of cartoonish lunacy scythe through the air. What a superbly characterful creation.

Click here for more photos from the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed

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