fiat 509

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FIAT 509 Spinto-Monza 1928. The sports car of an oil magnate

The FIAT 509 was not only a bestseller for the time with 90.000 units, but also starred in the first financing and insurance services provided by the brand in order to facilitate its massive character. However, there was also room for artisan versions dedicated to the competition. A good example of this is this Spinto-Monza commissioned in 1928 by an oil magnate.

With some 95.000 employees and a presence in more than 85 countries, Schlumberger Limited is the lthe world's largest company in oil field services. Offering everything from seismic analysis to drilling and machine maintenance, this emporium founded in 1926 by French brothers Conrad and Marcel Schlumberger grew so fast that within three years it was already expanding its interests to wells in California. Thus, it is not surprising that its owners maintained a close relationship with the automotive world.

So much so that they not only invested in trucks to mount their equipment for the geophysical logging of wells, but also in small sports cars such as the FIAT 509 Spinto-Monza. A model commissioned by Marcel Schlumberger from the Carnot workshop in Cannes. Specialist in mechanics and bodywork, who made this car in 1928 maintaining fluid contact with the FIAT factory. In fact, even today the correspondence between the two companies is preserved. Interesting epistolary for turbocharger enthusiasts.

And it is that, although until 1962 the Chevrolet Corvair Monza and Oldsmobile Jetfire did not introduce the turbo in series cars, the truth is that it had been used for years in industrial vehicles. Use that was earlier in trains. First to apply this technology to land environments, which was perfected so much with the military aviation of the First World War. An atmosphere of interest in the turbo that led Marcel Schlumberger to commission its application to the engine of the FIAT 590 Spinto-Monza.

Something that the FIAT itself advised against through a formal letter citing reasons of reliability after the consultation carried out by the Carnot workshop. A reversal of realism to the intentions of its owner, which does not remove an iota of interest to that FIAT 509 Spinto-Monza. Great example of the sports versions of the model.


If we get into a debate about Italian car brands, it can be tough when it comes to which one is the most attractive. For some, the quality and excellence of Isotta will win. For others the sportiness of Alfa Romeo. And of course for others the iconic Ferrari. Nevertheless, that FIAT is the Italian mass brand par excellence there is no possible doubt. A company in which we can find from sports to industrial, but always based on a complete range of suitable passenger cars to the reality of the general market.

In this sense, the FIAT 509 represents an essential milestone, being the first Italian car to be manufactured on a large scale. Objective that he achieved without palliative, managing to sell 90.000 units from 1925 to 1929. A not inconsiderable figure for the time, which was favored by being the first FIAT model with installment payment program. An advantage that brought this simple two-door model closer to the young public, which could also benefit from the basic insurance offered from 1928.

Data that tells us how the FIAT 509 was not only cared for in its design, but also incorporated into a careful sales strategy in which the brand offered global services. Just the kind of business acumen necessary for a small niche business to become a large mass manufacturer. Something that, however, is not at odds with the appearance of sports versions with open bodywork. Ideal for races such as the Mille Miglia or the Targa-Florio, in which models such as the SM Spinto-Monza were lavished.


Beyond the great GTs created by and for competition or high performance, in Italy there is a long-established tradition of generating racing vehicles on popular bases. A good example of this is the 600 with which Abarth did wonders, but also the Topolino that served as the basis for a multitude of artisanal barchettas. Trajectory in which the competition versions of the FIAT 509 are inserted. A model that, in fact, was fortunate to have both unique preparations by independent workshops as well as the SM variant.

The sports preparation made by the factory itself, which reached up to 30CV instead of the 22 of the most basic engine. Of course, always using the 990cc inline four cylinder with a single Solex carburettor as a base. Mechanics responsible for propelling the little more than 650 kilos given by these versions with two seats and an open roof. Almost 200 less than the scale marked by the most commercialized version of the FIAT 509: the Spider with a canvas roof. However, beyond the factory units FIAT gave the opportunity to buy the chassis and engine without bodywork.

A circumstance used by Marcel Schlumberger to entrust the Carnot workshop in Cannes with his own racing model. A handcrafted model that even participated in the Targa-Florio, and thanks to the improvements made it reaches 92 km / h. Real collector's item that was auctioned last 2017, but that now appears on the market again offered by the Italian dealer Nervesauto.

Photographs: FIAT / Nervesauto

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Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.


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