Lot Number
61
1912 Fiat Tipo 56 Touring


CHASSIS NO: S1547
• Elegant brass era car retaining original coachwork
• Known history; Rare U.S.-built Fiat
• 75 horsepower six-cylinder power for strong touring and usability
• Competed in the International F.I.V.A. Rally
• Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance participant

8.6 litre L-head inline six-cylinder engine rated at 75 HP, four-speed manual gearbox, semi-elliptic leaf spring front and rear suspension, updated rear wheel hydraulic brakes; wheelbase: 135”


The roots of Fiat span more than 100 years of automotive innovation and engineering achievements. The company got its start in 1899 when Giovanni Agnelli gathered several investors together and founded the Italian Factory of Turin in 1899. The name was changed to Fiat in 1906 and Agnelli guided his company until his death in 1945. The early years were filled with many milestones as Fiat built its first truck in 1903 and exported their first car to the United States in 1908. The company also built quite a reputation on the race track and even manufactured an aircraft engine. In just one decade, Fiat had become the largest automobile company in Italy and a U.S. plant was opened in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1910. Owning a Fiat at the time was a clear sign of social status, as they were not inexpensive cars. While Henry’s Model T could be had for a mere $525, a Fiat started at $4,000 and could easily run close to $7,000 with custom coachwork. Not only were Fiat’s cars a mark of social status and beauty, but their engineering was superb. A Fiat was built to standards that were only attained by such names as Napier and Rolls-Royce. Indeed, the frame of a Fiat could support several thousand pounds and the engine was massive with engineering advances that were way ahead of its time. Sadly, World War I caused Fiat to close its Poughkeepsie factory in 1917, but not before it turned out some amazing cars.

Offered here is a survivor with a well-known history from the golden era of Fiat’s brief, but stellar U.S. history, a 1912 Type 56 Touring that is impressive in photos, but literally must be seen to be believed. The incredible size, width, and breadth of this large touring car can only be appreciated in person. This Fiat was purchased new by the owner of the Mohank Mountain House Hotel in Platz, New York. It then went to Herb Schoenfeld in Seattle, Washington who owned it for several decades. Its next owner was well-known international collector car dealer Charles Howard in the U.K. and then went to Earl Snodgrass of California in 1987. Its subsequent owner was Jim Adams who used it extensively for touring, even competing in the International F.I.V.A. Rally running from Edinburgh to Stratford on Avon in 1996. It then received a comprehensive restoration in the early 2000s and was shown at Pebble Beach two times, the last being in 2012. In the present day, this Fiat just received all new upholstery in its original diamond tufted leather, new carpets, and a new canvas top. Accompanying the car are the tool kit, tire jack, original sales folder and history file from new.

This amazing car carries the same features of any elegant Packard or Locomobiles of the day, but the brass badge up front lets the world know that this is a Fiat. As a touring car from the Golden Age, the elegance of this Fiat cannot be underestimated. Starting at the front, a tubular brass bumper is simple yet stylish and is a perfect match for the brass trimmed headlamps. A tall and imposing brass radiator showcases the Fiat name and more brass work is found at the cowl where lanterns, horns, and mirrors with beveled glass add just the right touch of elegance and all brass fittings still retain the Fiat logo. Full step running boards underlie the huge body with an elegantly styled wood tool box on the left while the right side carries a twin set of spare tires. Despite its size, the entry doors are small and simply designed for ease of entry and exit. No touring car is complete without exterior storage and this Fiat features a black leather trunk that offers plenty of room. Stepping into this car is like stepping back through the pages of time with a sea of fine leather, beautiful carpet, and exquisite wood work that is reminiscent of the finest furniture. The rear seat features finely bolstered seat cushions with folding jump seats for extra passengers. The driver’s compartment features a fine array of brass gauges, dual glove boxes, and finely finished wood work. Most impressive is a large steering wheel with fuel and spark advance controls and the combination of polished brass and wood makes for an artwork-like presentation. Clearly, a family of social status demanded only the best and the luxurious interior of this Fiat delivered on all counts. If one’s social status was determined by the number of cylinders in their motorcar during the early days, the Fiat outshined a number of its competitors with a huge six-cylinder engine that delivered 75 horsepower. Despite this being an early motorcar, the engineering behind Fiat’s large inline six is surpassed only by its beauty. Indeed, all fittings are highly polished and all wiring, gearing, and plumbing are neatly sorted in a way that makes the engine compartment an object of beauty. This Type 56 Touring has also undergone a few refinements that contribute to its drivability and safety. A modern clutch was fitted in the 1990s that makes shifting a breeze and hydraulic brakes were also fitted for safety. This Fiat also retains all its original coachwork including its wood framing, floorboards, and fenders.

For the very best in the world of collector cars, this Fiat is a car that has few equals. With its impressive size, abundance of power, and dedication to authenticity, this is a car that embodies the true spirit of the early days of motoring, is a welcome addition to tours, a joy to drive and a true investment grade motorcar.

1912 Fiat Tipo 56 Touring
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