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Vincenzo Lancia and mechanic - and future superstar driver of the 20's - Pietro Bordino, pushing their Fiat F1 in the pits.

The Fiat 130hp GP Racer was fitted with a mighty 16.25 litre 4 cylinder motor. Each piston weighed almost five kilos.
Thundering along at 160 km/h, it's big cylinders firing about once every telegraph-pole through it's open exhaust, it must have been an awesome spectacle.
Racing over dirt roads strewn with rocks the size of a fist and with crude rear only brakes and skinny tyres, the men who steered these beasts and often died in the doing, were unquestionably the gladiators of the twentieth century.
The modern F1 driver can't even imagine the bravery that these drivers possessed.

Three Fiat 130hp Racer's took part in the 1907 French Grand Prix at the Dieppe circuit and were driven by the greatest drivers of the time, Vincenzo Lancia, Felice Nazzaro and Louis Wagner. The winner was Nazzaro, running at the extraordinary average of 113.612 km/h.

Italy's Fiat Grand Prix car for 1907 was intended to end the French dominance of racing once and for all. A new formula was introduced based on fuel consumption (a maximum of 30 litre's per 100 km / 9.42 mpg) without any weight or engine capacity limits. Fiat introduced a car designed by Giovanni Enrico which was powered by a 4 cylinder 16,286 cc engine. The engine produced 130 bhp and the car weighed 1025 kg. Distinctive engine features were the 90° V-arranged overhead valves, hemispherical combustion chambers, centrally placed spark plugs and a Simms-Bosch magneto ignition.

Motor: 4 twin-block cylinders
Effective engine capacity: 16286 cc
Power: 130 HP at 1600 rpm
Speed: 160 km/h (100 mph)
Weight: 1025 kg


In 1907, at the age of 26, Felice Nazzaro was the greatest driver in the world. With his effortless and immaculate technique, he stayed at the top, retiring from premier level racing in 1924 after almost 25 years in the most dangerous game in the world.
A cagey driver, Nazzaro would often hang back at the beginning of a race, waiting for the leaders to fail and then would pounce into the lead, sometimes making the fastest lap in the process.

Nazzaro was very young when he started work in the workshop of the Ceriano brothers (Fiat founders) and he was soon competing for the new Fiat racing team. He won the Padua 200 km race in 1900 at the wheel of a red Fiat and the 1901 Giro d'Italia in a 6HP Fiat. The popular star of numerous Italian races early in the century, he even became an idol abroad, with a brilliant second place for Fiat in the Gordon Bennett Cup of 1905. Slight of build, gentlemanly of nature and immaculate in dress, his skill as a driver, mechanic and diplomat earned him the position of 'works' Fiat driver alongside Vincenzo Lancia in 1905.

1907 was Nazzaro's greatest year. He won the three most important races in the world; the Targa Florio in a Fiat 28-40hp, the Kaiserpreis Kaiser's Cup in Germany in a Fiat Taunis and THE most important race on the calendar, the French Grand Prix in the Fiat 130hp F2 Racer.

On the 8 June 1908, Nazzaro set the auto speed record at 193kph for 2.75 miles and briefly exceeded 200kph, the first driver in the world to do so.

Felice Nazzaro, like Lancia and many other successful drivers of the period, also wanted to try his hand at producing cars. The First World War was looming and Fiat had begun to withdraw from racing, so in 1911, together with some colleagues, he founded 'Nazzaro & C.Fabbrica di Automobili' in Turin. Initially his name was enough to ensure sales of the first model, the Tipo 2 powered by a 4.4 litre four cylinder side valve engine, which emerged in 1912. His race team, although generally beset with mechanical failures, had some notable success in motor sport. In 1913 he won the Targa Florio for the second time, driving a Nazzaro Tipo 2, putting no less than 3 hours between himself and the runner-up! A couple of years later an improved model, the Nizzaro Tipo 3 was released. The company organisation, however, was weak and along with the ravages of the war, the company went into liquidation in 1916, after having produced around 230 cars plus some 50 trucks. At the end of the war Nazzaro tried again, this time at Firenze. 210 examples the Tipo 5, a 3.5-litre overhead cam four-cylinder powered car were built and a Nazzaro GP car, driven by Meregalli, won the 1920 Targa Florio before Nazzaro finally gave up Nazzaro Automobili for good in 1923.

Meanwhile Fiat, who due to the war had all but stopped racing in 1912, had returned in 1921 and Nazzaro had joined the team again. His team mate was Pietro Bordino, who had been a riding mechanic for Fiat and who was now regarded as the world's fastest driver. But it was Nazzaro, now 42 years old and 9 years from the last time that he had raced in an important long-distance event, who won the 500 mile 60 lap 1922 French Grand Prix at the fast 8.3 mile Strasbourg circuit, driving the Fiat 804/404 2 litre six-cylinder racer. He had been at the wheel for 6 hrs 17 mins 17 secs and had averaged 79.2 mph for the 500 miles. He had also taken the fastest lap at 87.75mph. Only 3 of the 18 starters made it to the finish. After the win, it was remarkable how fresh Nazzaro seemed, but he was, as always, tireless. Sadly the race was not without tragedy for Nazzaro, when another Fiat, driven by his nephew, Biagio Nazzaro, broke a back axle shaft, lost a wheel and overturned with fatal results. Nazzaro had narrowly escaped death earlier in the year in an identical accident in the Targa Florio and after so many years at the pointy end of a very dangerous era in motor racing, he must have been seriously considering a quieter lifestyle. Later in the year he finished second to the young Bordino in the Italian Grand Prix and finished second again in the 1923 European GP in Italy, his last significant race result. Nazzaro would step aside for the younger Bordino at the end of 1923.

At the end of 1924 Fiat closed down their race team and Nazzaro was appointed head of the Fiat competitions department for existing cars in 1925 and continued until Fiat, after Bordino's spectacular one race comeback and GP win at Monza in 1927, finally withdrew from racing in 1929. We can only speculate on how many more races Nazzaro would have won, had the war not denied him 10 years of racing, at the peak of his driving powers. Tragically the world's greatest early century driver was at the wheel of his road car when he crashed and was killed in 1940. He was 59 years old.

BIRTH: 1881 Turin, Italy
DEATH: March 21, 1940 (Road Car Accident)
RACE ERA: 1900-29
Grand Prix 22 - Wins 5 - Seconds 5 - Thirds 2 - Top 10's 16 - DNF's 6


In 1907, the French Grand Prix was the most important race in the world.
At 6 am, on 2nd July, a cannon was discharged and at one minute intervals, 38 of the world's best drivers, in their mighty sixteen litre open exhaust racing monsters, thundered away.
We can now scarcely imagine the sights and sounds of that morning.

The Automobile Club of France moved to the great Dieppe circuit in 1907 for the first of the circuits three Grand Prix. The circuit was basically triangular and contained an interesting variety of mild uphill and downhill sections. The total of 10 laps of 47.748 miles - a single day's racing was now recognised as more convenient for everyone - gave a racing distance of 477.48 miles. National racing colours were also insisted on for all the runners.

Eleven teams of French cars were entered, against one each representing Belgium, Italy, Germany, America and Great Britain. Different rules were imposed, the consumption of fuel being limited to 30 litres per 100km. This works out at 9.4 mpg and, while this was a move to try to improve engine efficiency, it was not of great inconvenience to competitors, and big engines remained the norm.

Clement-Bayard, who had done so well in 1906, were having a poor year and it must have required all the famed fixity of purpose of Adolphe Clement to have continued with his entry after his son Albert's fatal accident while practising.

On race morning at 6 am sharp, a cannon was discharged to commence the proceedings. The starters were sent off at intervals of one minute and at 6.01 am Lancia in the Fiat, number F1, was the first to be despatched on his long journey. Duray, driving a De Dietrich, who had started three minutes behind Lancia, had closed the gap on the road to Lancia to just over 1 minute by the end of the second lap and an electrifying duel between two of the fastest drivers of the time emerged. But it was the new Fiat driver Louis Wagner who actually led the race on time. Wagner led for three laps in the Fiat F3, at a sizzling average of 72.1 mph, only to crash on lap 4. This let Duray, who had passed Lancia on lap 3, into the lead where he stayed until lap 9 when his De Dietrich seized its gearbox. This moved Nazzaro, who had passed Lancia's misfiring Fiat, to the front, with Szisz chasing him, but the red Flat F2 had an unshakeable lead and won at 70.5 mph from the French car, with Barras' Richard Brasler third. De Dietrich driver Duray, had made fastest lap, at 75.4mph.

- and as for Nazzaro, he had finished with only 11 1/2 litres of petrol - enough to take him a mere 20 miles!

Fiat 130hp Racer 1:8 by Pocher.

IMPORTANT: Beware of using the museum "original" as a reference. This car has been heavily modified since it won the 1907 race and is incorrect in many respects. Unfortunately this was all that Pocher base the model on, without further research, so the model has the same errors as the museum "original".

1. Painting guide.
Body Mid to Dark Browny Red
The area between the back of the seats and the fuel tank is body colour, not black.
No pin striping
Radiator surround painted body colour
Radiator core painted off-white with number in black
Aluminium cowl is body colour
Dashboard is body colour
Front Wheel spokes painted body colour
Back Wheel spokes varnished timber - rim is body colour

2. Tyre rubber was off-white with no tread.

3. Exhaust. Note the short exhaust in 3/4 rear F2 pit picture. The exhaust exited the engine via 4 pipes which came straight down to a large horizontal cylindrical collector and then exited through a large and very short exhaust pipe. This will have to be scratch built

4. Dashboard. Note metal panel above fuel tank.
Also - the 2 top timber foot boards appear to be missing on the race photos.

5. Bonnet vents. The front 3 vents on each side should be cut from the bonnet and turned around so that they all face the same way.
Also - the round holes above the vents in the left side of the bonnet should be blanked off as were the holes on F2 in the race.

6. Radiator. The model's radiator core is a real problem, with the area for the F-2 being raised and smooth on the radiator core. Solution??
Also the original car radiator was painted a light grey with the F-2 in black. (The opposite to the box art and museum "original".)

7. Seats. The actual race car seats was trimmed with straight pleats. See picture. The model has diamond pleating as per the museum "original".

Any comments, please contact me at

Every effort has been made to trace the owners of copyright and we apologise to any we have been unable to contact

Jon Crooke

15 November 2004