Cool 1948 Fiat Topolino panel delivery gasser tribute. Fiberglass body, 350 Chevy with dual quads, automatic transmission, Ford 9-inch. Nicely finished interior. Runs and drives great!
For drag race enthusiasts, it made sense that using a smaller car meant less weight and more performance, so city cars like this Topolino were extremely popular in the 1960s. Combined with the gasser movement and you got wild and wonderful creations like this 1948 Fiat. It’s worth noting that this is a fiberglass re-creation of an original Topolino, and given the willowy construction employed at Fiat in the 1940s, this is probably a superior car in every way. Panel fit is surprisingly good and someone clearly spent a lot of time prepping, smoothing, and sanding the bodywork before the vivid green paint was applied. The entire nose tips forward for excellent access to the Chevy V8 underneath, but the rest is very much the way it would have been if it were built the Italians. The doors open suicide-style, as original, and the rear door opens to allow access to a good-sized cargo area that makes this little car even a bit practical.
Inside, it’s quite a bit more polished and comfortable than your typical gasser, with handsome two-tone gray upholstery, bucket seats, and a surprising amount of room. Power windows are a nice bonus, and while you may laugh at the tiny sparkling green steering wheel, it makes it much easier to climb behind the wheel and provides a direct connection to the front wheels—it’ll feel natural after just a few minutes of driving. The dashboard is full of white-faced Auto Meter gauges to monitor the engine, plus a Sunpro tach strapped to the steering column, racer style. A custom overhead console houses a Kenwood AM/FM/CD stereo head unit, which powers speakers in the cargo bay that actually sound pretty good. Plush carpets with plenty of sound-deadening materials underneath help it feel a little more civilized and the one -piece headliner looks great and adds to the polished feeling.
Tip the nose forward and you’ll find out why those big tires out back are required. That’s a 350 cubic inch Chevy V8 topped by a pair of Edelbrock 4-barrel carburetors. Beautifully assembled and a very strong runner, this engine gives the 1500-pound Topolino some explosive performance, to say the least. However, it’s also quite docile, and if you stay out of the second carb, it’s happy to putter around town without getting cranky. It starts quickly and easily, and no matter how many times you fire it up, you probably won’t get used to the healthy V8 cackle from the exhaust coming out of this little car. Pure cognitive dissonance. It runs and drives beautifully, showcasing an engine and chassis that are properly dialed-in, and once it was running right, they dressed it up. There are chrome air cleaners up top with a matching alternator, a set of aluminum valve covers, and bright yellow plug wires to add some contrast. A big radiator up front keeps everything cool and all the wiring is new. Special long-tube headers tuck into the fender wells in true gasser fashion, with a pair of Flowmasters and full tailpipes that exit out back, so the sound is more than manageable at speed.
Obviously there’s not really any room for a clutch or shifter, so it sports a built TH350 3-speed automatic transmission with a high-stall torque converter and shift kit, but it retains fully automatic operation so you can keep both hands on the wheel at full throttle. The chassis is too diminutive to fit on our lift, so we can’t show you photos, but it’s a custom-built frame made from box-section steel with reinforced crossmembers and satin black paint. The front suspension is a tubular axle on leaf springs, while out back you get a custom modified Ford 9-inch with easy-cruising 3.25 gears inside with a set of hairpins and coil-over shocks. Wilwood disc brakes up front and big drums in back give you more than adequate stopping power for such a flyweight vehicle and steering action is light thanks to the gasser front end. 15-inch Rocket wheels have a traditional race look that suits the car just fine and wear a big-n-little tires.
We know this car isn’t for everyone, but if you were there, you know this thing is way cool. Fast, fun, and funky, you’re guaranteed to have the only one at every show you visit and with its surprisingly user-friendly nature, you won’t be afraid to drive it—this is no trailer queen. Get in, turn the key, and be ready to be the center of attention. Call now!
For more details and photos, please visit www.HarwoodMotors.com