The history of the Fiat 508s Balilla-aerodinamica
The Fiat 508 Balilla made its debut at the Milan Motor Show of 1932. The 508 Balilla was a small and quite conventional car powered by a 995cc side valve in-line four cylinder engine that produced 22bhp and gave the car a top speed around 55mph. The Fiat 508 Balilla was made to be economical to run with fuel consumption quoted at 35mpg, and easy to maintain. In typical Italian style however these utilitarian little cars had a certain charm about them, they were in fact quite pretty.
The Fiat 508 Balilla was completely 1920’s-1930’s conventional with leaf spring suspension all around, the front having a beam axle and a standard live axle at the rear. Brakes were hydraulic drums all around. So these were not expensive cars to make and were intentionally made easy to repair wherever one happened to be. A special version for use in Italy’s colonies was also made with ground clearance suitable for rough roads and tracks. Initially the car was made with two door sedan, van and two seater convertible body styles.
Despite the engineering being kept conventional by a design team of Fiat engineers Nebbia, Fessia, Giacosa and Tranquillo Zerbi the idea behind this little car was to bring something of the luxury automobile to people who could not afford a large luxury car. Sale price for a new 508 Balilla was 10,800 lire which kept it affordable to middle class buyers.
The following year, 1933, Fiat created an upgraded Sport model of the car called the 508S. This model’s engine was upgraded to produce 30bhp and the sports version was given some more stylish coachwork notably a spyder by Ghia and an Aerodinamica 2 door coupé.
Source: Revivaler, Jon Branch