1905 Fiat 24-32 HP Series 2 Rear Entry TonneauSOLD

RM Auctions - Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction - August 16-18

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Estimate: $150,000-$200,000 US

Offered Without Reserve

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $209,000

24/32hp, 6,908 cc. T-head four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, solid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and double chain drive, two-wheel mechanical brakes with mechanical driveline brake. Wheelbase: 117-3/8"

On the first of July, 1899, four young Italian gentlemen met in Turin: Emanuele Cacherano di Bricherasio, Giovanni Agnelli, Cesare Goria-Gatti and Roberto Biscaretti di Ruffia. Keen horsemen, they were also interested in the emerging motor industry. Before they parted, they had drawn up the articles of association for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Automobile Factory of Torino). In the Italian penchant for acronyms, it became F.I.A.T., after 1906 “ FIAT ” , and, today, usually simply “ Fiat. ”

To start, the new F.I.A.T. absorbed a bicycle company owned by Giovanni Ceirano, who had built a prototype car called the Welleyes, and acquired Ceirano ’ s patents. Aristide Faccioli, designer of the Welleyes, was appointed technical director. The first Fiat car, propelled by a 3-1/2 horsepower horizontal twin, was derived from that prototype. By 1901, Fiat was producing 80 cars, with a front-mounted 8-hp vertical twin; the first four-cylinder car, the 12/16, appeared later in the year, replaced by a larger 16/20 hp, 4,181 cc model in 1903. This was a T- head design (earlier cars had atmospheric intake valves), with low tension magneto ignition, pump-circulated water cooling, a four-speed selective transmission and dual chain drive. This would be the pattern for Fiats over the next three years. Production in 1903 was 135 cars, but profitability was yet to come, as losses in 1900 and 1901 had been followed by two break-even years.

For 1904, Fiat made a dramatic change from steel-reinforced wood chassis to pressed steel frames. The 16/20 hp model was exported to America, where Hollander & Tengeman of New York, sole agents for the U.S. and Canada, sold most of the 200-car output for prices of $6,700 and up. “ Find It All There ” read their advertising, in a play on the acronym, “ and use your hands for steering only, ” referring to the clutch, brake and accelerator located in close proximity on the floor.

In 1904, George R. Agassiz and his bride Mabel were honeymooning in Europe. The son of scientist Alexander Agassiz and grandson of Swiss-born naturalist and geologist Louis Agassiz, George was an amateur astronomer and philanthropist. Harvard University ’ s George R. Agassiz Radio Telescope is named for him. The Agassizes selected a 24/32 hp tourer, a mid-range model selling between the 16/20 and the huge 60 hp, 10.6-liter car. The Agassiz family owned property on Cape Cod, just south of Boston, to which they brought the Fiat. For a number of years it was used by Mrs. Agassiz ’ s brother. After the brother ’ s death it was put into storage. Around 1932, having a sentimental attachment to the car and not wishing to see it sold or broken up, Mrs. Agassiz had it buried on the property.

In 1942, it came to the attention of Ted Robertson, a Boston enthusiast and a founder of the Sports Car Club of America, and friends Jack Duby and Al Paradis, while the three were visiting friends nearby. Locating the buried car by poking long rods into the sandy soil, they exhumed it. Good drainage had helped preserve the car in its ten-year grave, by Robertson ’ s account “ on its back with the wheels removed and folded across its chest. ” Although the seats were gone, the rest of the car seemed fairly complete, and, after negotiating with her nephew, Robertson bought the car from Mrs. Agassiz for $50. Roberson sold the car to the noted Chicago collector D. Cameron Peck in 1944. Peck put wheels on the chassis, but did little else before selling it to Clay Clayberg for $500 in the late 1940s. Clayberg then gave it to Tom Carstens of Tacoma, Washington, who rebuilt the unique oiler before giving the chassis back to Clayberg. In 1952, Clayberg wrote to David Uihlein, offering him the chassis for free, provided that Uihlein pay the freight from Washington State to Milwaukee and promise to perform a quality restoration. Unable to resist such a proposition, a deal was struck and the Fiat entered into the Uihlein Collection where it has remained for the last 55 years. Mr. Uihlein entrusted the engine to Ron Hoettels, while Dave Hentschel rebuilt the transmission. Meanwhile, Joe Silnes fabricated the body, which was painted by Dave Hentschel. John Beaufort of Mercer Island, Washington, owner of a similar car, was very helpful in providing patterns and information for the reconstruction. The body is painted deep red, with a brighter red on the chassis. Seats are upholstered in black leather, and a black canvas top is fitted over bows from a 1907 Mercedes. The car has no fixed windshield, but a transparent “ front curtain ” rolls down for driving in inclement weather. The Fiat recently received a freshening and accordingly we understand it to be fit running and driving car. It is a fine example of an archetypal Italian tourer, and will be an outstanding addition to any collection.

Reference Number 10091

as of 6/1/2007

Car 1905 Fiat 24-32 HP Series 2 Rear Entry Tonneau
VIN 222 
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