16-17 August 2013


Lot 101

1938 Fiat 508C Berlinetta Speciale by Geburth

  • Chassis no. 225838
  • Engine no. 1731332

Sold for $55,000

55 bhp, 1,089 cc Fiat four-cylinder, dual-ratio manual transmission with eight forward and two reverse speeds, rear live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 95.3 in.

  • A fascinating, one-off coachbuilt Italian special
  • Well-known, documented history
  • An ideal, one-of-a-kind historic rally competitor

Fiat’s 508C, or Balilla 1100, produced from 1937 to 1938, was such an extremely successful model that a few still remain on the road some 75 years later. Many found themselves reborn after World War II as “Competition Specials,” shedding their pedestrian factory bodywork in favor of more dramatic panels. The car offered here is one such machine, with a unique and interesting story unlike any other.

Assembled early in 1938 as a standard four-door sedan, this 508C was sold new in Austria and survived the war in good condition. Incredibly, the original owner’s manual, all of its original post-war registration, and ownership records also survived, along with numerous period photographs, sales brochures, and other documents and records; all of which still accompany the car.

The car was acquired on April 23, 1955, by respected manufacturer Dr. Oskar Göhring, who soon gifted it to his playboy nephew, Rudolfo “Rudi” Wein. As Wein’s wife, Renate, recalled later, her husband had a very clear vision of what to do with the Fiat. He would use it as the basis for a special sports car that would be elegant, sleek, and sporting, following the Italian style he had seen from Cisitalia and other automakers.

Göhring’s factory, Geburth, handcrafted a new steel body to Wein’s design, using taillights from an Opel Kapitan, door handles from a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, seats from a 190SL, and Italian instruments, as well as two removable roof panels, originally of Plexiglas. Tuned and equipped with a side-draft Weber carburetor and full Stanguellini competition modifications, the engine is a Tipo 103-based unit from 1955, with a reduction gearbox activated by an under-dash lever, effectively providing eight forward speeds. A very large, handmade twin external fuel tank provided excellent long-distance cruising and travel.

As many period photographs show, Rudi Wein enjoyed his creation largely as a boulevard street racer, although it likely took to the track at least once. By the early 1960s, however, the family’s company had filed for bankruptcy, and the unique car was sold to a local scrapyard owner. Fortunately, he put it away in his warehouse, where it remained for decades.

In the early 1990s, Winfried Kallinger bought the scrapyard, along with other former Göhring family properties. Having known the family personally, he had the little sports car restored out of sentimentality, with no expense spared, recalling later that, while complete, it was not an easy automobile to restore due to its one-off body.

In 2007, the restored Fiat-Geburth was shown to Renate Wein, widow of its designer, and, as one can imagine, it brought back fond memories of her husband and his boundless creativity and ingenuity. It is offered today in much the same mindset, as a unique Italian special that is very much a tribute to one man’s imagination, as well as the plucky attitude of post-war gentleman racers.

Please note that a much more in-depth account of this car and its history is available on file. Please consult an RM specialist for additional details.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more