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A.G. Vanderbilt’s 90 HP Fiat and the Fiat Junior Racing Car

  • A.G. Vanderbilt's 1904 90 HP Fiat
  • Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt’s 1904 90 H.P. “FIAT” Racer after being rebodied.

While looking for specifications of the Fiat recently featured at the Farragut Hotel, the illustration above was found in an advertisement in the March 1905 Motor magazine. Hollander & Tangeman of West 45th Street in New York City, the sole American Agent for Fiat at the time placed the ad.

The ad copy reads: Mr. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt’s 90 H.P. FIAT Racer converted into a four-seated Touring Car. A Fiat was entered by Alfred in the first running of the Vanderbilt Cup Race held on October 6, 1904. William Wallace drove it, but the entry went out on the first lap after suffering clutch problems. It appears likely that the car above was the Vanderbilt Racer as the chassis’ appear to be identical.

Hollander & Tangeman after the race may have sent the car to J.M. Quinby & Co. in Newark, New Jersey, who built much of the coachwork for the agents at the time. A new hood, which tapered both in width and height from front to back was constructed along with a very attractive demi-tonneau four-passenger body. Added to that was a  set of sporting fenders and a large single magnifying lens headlamp.

  •    1905 Fiat Junior 24-M.P. Racing Car
  •              1905 Fiat Junior 24-M.P. Racing Car driven by E. Parker.

Another discovery was an article in the September 1905, Motor. It contained the details of a new racing car named the Fiat Junior 24-M.P. (several of its models were referred to with the M.P. designation at the time by the press). It made its debut at the Morris Park race track near New York City. Driven by E. Parker at the event, he and the car went on the set a new record that day in the middle-weight class at 55 4-5 seconds for the mile.

The stripped-down racer, built for only short sprint and match races, used a unique rocket-shaped tank above the engine compartment to carry the small amount of gas needed for short distances. It is a possibility that this car (the only early l.h.d. Fiat known) after updating was renamed the Fiat Cyclone,  which was driven by many famous drivers including Ralph DePalma over the years. The Cyclone finally went on to be re-powered with a 16-Valve Duesenberg walking-beam engine by Barney Oldfield in the mid-teens.

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  • 1905 431.97 c.i.d. Fiat Junior T-head engine.

Two views of the 431.97 c.i.d. T-head engine with a five by five and a half-inch bore and stroke and make-and-break ignition. This engine appears to be identical externally to the standard 16-20 M.P. motor that was used in the small 1905 passenger cars with the exception of the exhaust manifold. If this car did in fact become the Fiat Cyclone, the engine was later updated with cylinders featuring two exhaust ports per cylinder. View the r.h.d. Baby Jumbo Fiat here. See the Larz Anderson 1907 Fiat here to learn more.

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