1912 Fiat Type 55 Fleetwood Roadster

  • Brand: Fiat
  • Car Code: 321043

1912 Fiat Type 55 Fleetwood Roadster

FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino) was founded in July of 1899 and was led by Giovanni Agnelli until his death in 1945. The first Fiat plant opened in 1900 with 35 staff workers making 24 cars. By 1903, the company was producing 135 cars; by 1906 that figure had grown to 1,149 cars.

The first Fiat was the 3.5 CV. It had a water-cooled .7-liter 2-cylinder engine offering 4.2 horsepower and mated to a three-speed gearbox. Top speed was a respectable 22 mph. All examples were clothed by Alessio of Turin with body designs that were closely resembled the Benz. By 1908, they had exported the first Fiat to the United States. By 1910, Fiat was the largest automotive company in Italy.

Hollander and Tangeman of New York City were importing Fiats to the U.S. and were enjoying success with their venture. This came to a close when Agnelli decided to manufacture vehicles in the United States. Since a duty tax was imposed on imported cars, a new plant was built in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1910 by the newly founded American F.I.A.T. Automobile Company. The new U.S. Company retained the rights to FIAT's manufacturing designs and the parent firm received a royalty on every car built in the United States.

The U.S. built Fiat's catered to the wealthy, and had a base price of $4,000 to $6,100. Their initial offering was the Type 54, which had a 30 horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 124-inch wheelbase. The Type 56 was a seven-passenger Touring car and had a 135-inch wheelbase. It was introduced in 1912 and was built exclusively for the U.S. market. Power was from an 8.6-liter L-head six-cylinder engine that offered 45 horsepower and was mated to an unsynchronized four-speed manual transmission. Stopping power was provided by rear mechanical drum brakes.

In 1913, the lineup expanded further with the introduced of the Type 55. It had a 128-inch wheelbase and was powered by a 42 horsepower four-cylinder engine. A year later, it was joined by the Type 53 having a 116-inch wheelbase and a 25 horsepower engine.

By 1914, the American Fiat lineup consisted of the Type 53, 54, 55, and the 56. The Type 54 was dropped in 1915 followed by the Type 53 in 1916. By 1917, the American Fiat model line consisted of just the Type 55, now resting on a 140-inch wheelbase. By the end of the year, it too was no longer offered as the company cased all production.

In February of 1918, the machinery and building was purchased by Duesenberg Motors of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Descriptions & pictures by conceptcarz & hiveminer & dragoneclassic

Production Start 1912
Country of origin Italy