This remarkable landaulet coachwork on the Fiat 1900 was a trademark design of Carrozzeria Savio. The Savio landaulet was first seen on a Fiat 1400 in 1950, but this 1953 version was not only more up to date, with sharper lines and two-tone paintwork, but was on the more upmarket Fiat 1900.
First, therefore, some history of the Fiat 1400/1900. The 1400 was introduced at the 1950 Geneva Motor Show. It was Fiat’s first post-war model, its first monocoque car, and its first passenger car offered with a diesel engine. The Fiat 1900, introduced in 1952, used the same body as the 1400, but came with a 1.9-litre engine and more standard features. About 179,000 1400s and 19,000 1900s were built.
There were several coachbuilt versions, including a Michelotti 1400 Cabriolet – but it was Savio who came up with the most unusual special bodies for the 1400 and 1900.
Now for the Savio story. In 1899, the brothers Antonio and Giuseppe Savio became apprentices of Carrozzeria Alessio in Turin. They subsequently worked for Rothschild and some other significant coachbuilders, and for the car manufacturer Diatto. In 1919 the brothers set up their own workshop in Turin and obtained a contract from Itala to produce 900 complete car bodies. They were passionate about quality and comfort, and in 1925 adopted Silentbloc bushes for the body structure, using them first on a Ceirano saloon.
Savio also built bodies on Lancia, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Isotta-Fraschini chassis, and carried out subcontract work for other coachbuilders, including Ghia, Farina and Boneschi. They were adventurous enough to follow American trends by building a wood-panelled station-wagon body on a Fiat 1100 in 1937. That theme would be repeated, at least partially, after World War II in a convertible estate car on a 1951 Fiat 1400, again with wood panelling.
Savio concentrated mainly on subcontract work during the war. They lost their factory to bombing in 1943 and Antonio retired in 1944. The company nevertheless survived a slow post-war period and made bodies on multiple Fiat models, including the 1400 and 1900, a Spider on a 1200 and the 2300 coupé.
Giuseppe died in in 1954, but his son-in-law Alfredo Caracciolo took over the company and proved to be a highly competent and far-sighted businessman. Savio moved into new, modern premises in Moncalieri in 1959, and began to produce school buses and small buses. Savio built the bodies for the Lancia Delta S4 rally cars, but after 1989 they moved totally into production of commercial vehicle bodies, and were still in operation in 2015.
Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk