|Cars - Fiat|
Historics at Brooklands / Brooklands Motor Museum 6th June 2015 Cars - 06/06/2015 / 1969 Fiat Vignale Samantha Coupe / Lot 259
One of the most illustrious of Italian coachbuilders, Carrozzeria Vignale, had been founded in 1948 by Alfredo Vignale. Enzo Ferrari's favoured coachbuilder during the Maranello manufacturer's formative years, Carrozzeria Vignale also designed and built cars for Lancia and Maserati among others and in the 1960s, branched out into automobile manufacture in its own right. For Fiat, Vignale built show models, prototypes and some limited edition models. Based on the contemporary Fiat 124 and 125 models, the 1.6-Litre, Vignale-bodied Samantha was built in small numbers in the late 1960s. Vignale's sleek coupé body had very fluid lines, thanks to the recessed, 'pop up' headlights, yet nevertheless afforded comfortable seating for four and a decent amount of luggage space. With 100bhp on tap, delivered via a five-speed gearbox, the Samantha was similar in performance to the 125S donor car, with a 0-60mph time of 13 seconds and a top speed of 106mph. Production run of the Samantha 125S is estimated at approximately 100, and these cars were not distributed through Fiat main dealers, leaving foreign importation in the hands of independent specialists. Only a relative handful are believed to have survived, making the Samantha 125S one of the rarest twin-cam Fiats of the period. We could thank Greek casino tycoon, Frixos Demitriou for the right hand drive Samantha, as it is reputed that in exchange for a gambling debt, he went to visit the Vignale factory and was offered 200 of the company's cars, configured in right hand drive, for resale in the UK. A mixture of Gamines, 850s, 124 Evelines and 125 Samanthas were subsequently built and shipped, but in the end, the venture failed and a fleet of unsold cars followed Demitriou back to Cyprus. In 1970 Demitriou died under bizarre circumstances, when an army tank ran over his Vignale-Fiat while he was still inside!! The incident followed Alfredo Vignale's own unexplained passing, also in a Vignale-Fiat, in 1969 just three days after he had sold the Vignale factory to De Tomaso (Ferrari's bitter rivals), for preparing their Ghia bodied Pantera for production. This 1969 Fiat by Vignale Samantha Coupe, presented in turquoise, with beige leather interior was runner up in the 2012 'Classic Car of The Year' Awards by Practical Classics and Classic Car Weekly, Under its previous ownership, the car has undergone a 17 year on/off restoration by RM Restorations in Colchester, and the finished product is absolutely fantastic. When the car was first restored, the owner decided to have the original 1608cc twin cam engine rebuilt and during the rebuild, a larger 1995cc twin cam unit from a Fiat Argenta was fitted, which remains in the car today, however, the original 1608cc engine comes with the sale should the new owner wish to revert to the original. A large and comprehensive history and restoration file accompanies the beautiful Coupé, which makes fascinating reading and we believe this to be the only Vignale Samantha registered in the UK today, and perhaps the only surviving righthand drive model. This stunningly beautiful car is a legend which will continue to fascinate those with a love of motoring history and folk-lore. It is a thing of rare beauty that surely can only appreciate in value, considering that the Samantha Coupé, designed by Alfredo Vignale, had less than100 of these beautiful motorcars ever made, with only 27 in righthand drive.