1965 FIAT 1300S Vignale CoupeView vehicle description
Long before Ford used the name for a premium-spec version of one of its popular cars, Vignale was a successful coachbuilder, producing cars based on Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia, and Fiat, among others. Carrozzeria Vignale, as it was called, lasted for more than two decades, producing, sometimes with the help of Michelotti, extremely pretty cars, which also turned out to be rare and thus, in many cases, out of reach for many.
Vignale churned out some striking coupes based on Fiat saloons in the early 1960s, namely the 1300 and 1500. The Fiat 1300S Vignale was pushed away from its four-door saloon origins and given a two-door fastback-style coupe body. One doesn’t even need to put it side-by-side to the saloon to appreciate the remarkable transformation. But the improvements didn’t stop there, either. The engine was marginally more powerful, the car had power windows, there was a lovely looking Nardi wooden steering wheel, and the Cromodora alloys just made the car look even more beautiful.
This is a 1965 Fiat 1300S Vignale. It’s got a Greek registration and is now on sale in the Netherlands. The vendor has got some work done on it to ensure that the clean exterior (more details on that below) is complemented by a mechanically solid package. The odometer displays around 23,000 km, and for the last five years, it’s been stored in a dry/heated garage.
The Vignale-made cars are rare, no doubt, which explains why one doesn’t see many of these. But owning a classic like this is likely to be a momentous occasion, not just because of rarity but also due to what this 1300S offers in terms of the overall condition and, of course, the almost arresting design by none other than Michelotti.
The vendor mentions that the car is a charming Italian classic with handsome styling from the 60s and a smart colour scheme. We can’t disagree with him, and we’re certain anyone who’s looking for a coachbuilt car, especially one that’s usable in 2021 will find a lot of appeal in this Fiat 1300S Vignale.
On the Outside
The Fiat 1300S Vignale is like a Spaghetti Western; with the fastback shape, it’s bound to appeal to buyers globally, but it doesn’t leave its Italian roots. Imagine if someone chopped the saloon’s roof and gave it a fastback shape, opted for fewer doors, and on the whole, made the car flowy, that would, theoretically make it better-looking than the saloon. But it couldn’t have done without the finesse that Giovanni Michelotti’s final design exhibits.
If you’re looking to see how well a Vignale looks in the flesh, this 1965 example might be a good place to start. Its green paint looks great for its age, the bodywork hasn’t suffered much, although it has some age-related wear and small scratches, stone chips and dents. The biggest of the scratches is on the right front wing, some of the chrome trims do tell that it’s an old car, and the bumpers have a few marks, too, adds the vendor. The 13-inch Cromodora wheels look great, but the vendor points out that the Fiat centre caps have some scratches and there are some paint blemishes present, too. Despite all that, its overall condition suggests that age has been kind to the car. Look beyond the little imperfections, and its styling captures attention unlike anything else, making a strong case for such cars now.
On the Inside
The Fiat saloon it was based on wouldn’t have ever got the kind of attention the Vignale-made coupe gets, and that’s largely down to its looks. But the interior isn’t too far behind, either. The sloping roofline and fewer doors mean that it’s not as spacious as the saloon, but there’s no mistaking the 1300S Vignale for anything else. The saloon it’s based on looked ordinary, the coupe is anything but that, even inside the cabin. The instrument console is shared between the cars, but everything else looks and feels more modern and upmarket. It also has electric power windows, front seat backs that fold downwards at an angle to enable easy access to the rear bench (clever!), push-button radio, etc.
This 1965 example shines when it comes to its interior, too. The red seats aren’t too gaudy. The Nardi steering wheel is going to be the centre of everyone’s attention because it looks that good, the buttons and switches work, including the power windows, and the wraparound dashboard looks great.
As far as the condition goes, the seats appear to be in an exceptional state, the vendor mentions there are some age-related marks on the steering and switchgear surrounds. The wood on the dashboard heightens the experience of being in a Vignale coupe, and in terms of aesthetics, it looks to be perfectly in line with the rest of the cabin. The vendor mentions that while there are no electrical faults, the fuel gauge doesn’t work and the interior fuel-cap release handle is missing.
The pedals appear worn-out but the door cards and the headlining seem to be in top shape. Nice little touches like the Vignale-branded sill plates, Fiat 1300S badges on the dashboard, and openable side windows/vents for the rear passenger make the 1300S Vignale’s cabin appealing.
The Fiat 1300S Vignale was based on the Fiat 1300 saloon and had a Giannini-fettled version of the 1295 cc engine. Vignale offered a number of body styles based on the Fiat 1300/1500 with shared mechanicals and vinyl/faux-leather upholstery. Ensuring that the car could keep up with its fast looks, the 1300S Vignale’s engine was bumped up to 65+ hp, thanks to updated components, and it helped the coupe achieve a top speed of 150 km/h.
The vendor got the car serviced in March 2020, which is when it got new brake calipers. Previously, four years prior to that, it got a full service and some crucial components were replaced, too, like the thermostat, brake hoses, crankshaft seal, etc. It runs properly and drives well, says the vendor.
The tyres are old and the vendor states they might need replacing. The car isn’t devoid of some minor imperfections and the underside isn’t any different. The engine bay, while not the most aesthetically pleasing, is clean.
Looking at its Greek registration document, it’s clear that this Fiat 1300S Vignale Coupe was manufactured in 1965. The original colour was also green, and this 1295-cc-engined rear-wheel-drive coupe was registered F.H. FILPA 6890. It now has 22511 km on the odometer and it has been stored in a dry/heated garage for the last five years. During the said period, the car underwent regular maintenance and some part replacement, invoices of which are included with the car. You can have a look at some of these in the photo gallery below.
What We Think
Vignale deserved to be more than just a high-end trim on Fords; it could turn a thoroughly capable but mundane-looking car like the 1300 into the work of art that the Fiat 1300S Vignale is. The limited production of these meant finding one easily is nearly impossible, but since parts were shared with lesser Fiats, running one shouldn’t be an issue. Estimated to be valued anywhere between €29,500 and €39,500, this Vignale is a rare Fiat with fairly humble origins, great personality, and decent performance to match.
Viewing is always encouraged, within Govt. guidelines of course, and as stated this car is located in Gorinchem, Netherlands; and to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing to make an appointment. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
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