Vignale was one of the most important Italian coachbuilders. Described as ‘the man who sculpted steel’, his success was largely due to designer Michelotti, who worked with him until 1961. Appreciated by the VIP clientele who had unique examples of Ferraris made, in the early 1950s, Vignale widened its gaze to include the more popular cars to create special and unique versions in the “Vignale” style. After the release of the middle class car, the New Fiat 1100 103, Vignale also offered its own version of the saloon, which could only be called “Elite”, which identified the target clientele for which this car was intended.
Again designed by the inexhaustible Michelotti, whom we recognise by the unusual rear end (not the one on the TV, of course), the car has some unique features such as: The front mask, important, with two fog lights incorporated, which brings us back to more prestigious cars (Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale ed.). The rear tail with a wave above the line of the rear fins, reminiscent of the trim on some American cars. The car-specific aluminium side trim. A larger rear window. In the boot we find the spare wheel under the carpet and the fuel filler no longer outside but inside the boot. The rear backrest folds down to give more space in case you needed to load special objects. Michelotti is said to have had paintings or works of art in mind (ed.) Of course, the two-tone metallic livery immediately personalised these designs, separating them from traditional production cars. In this case, the first owner was a textile entrepreneur from Biella (then part of the province of Vercelli), who at the age of 35 wanted to distinguish himself with an agile but unique ‘elite’ car.
It seems that he fell in love at the 1956 Turin Motor Show, held in spring from 21 April to 2 May, and the decision was almost impromptu, so much so that a car was chosen that was part of the last 1636 chassis of the 1100 103 (including Bauletto and TV first series) and registered on 5 June 1956 (chassis 255,364). In fact, from chassis 257,000 the second series of the 103, called 103 E, went into production. The car is a matching number, largely preserved with original plates and documents. The car has been kept running at all times and has an electric fuel pump. The car has had a few awards, at concours d’élégance and has been published with various features in trade magazines, most recently, on the cover of the Italian Fiat Register Members’ Magazine with a 3-page feature inside. It is not a TV, but as it is a 103 from 1956 it can aspire to be entered in the Mille Miglia Storica. The production numbers of this Elite Vignale are not known. What we do know is that you are unlikely to find another car like this at a rally. A car for many, but not for all… “Elite” indeed.
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110 – 103 Vignale