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FIMA Automobili


#1

IN THE NAME OF THE EMPIRE

1935. The Ethiopian War caused disappointment between the Society of Nations, which decided to apply a series of economic sanctions to the aggressor, Italy. As a result of this decision, Mussolini and the fascist regime took the road of the autarchy. It was the occasion to show the world, and the Society of Nations, that the Italian Reign was able to raise its own economic model based on the ability to produce by itself what was needed (in very few words).
The result, thanks also to a very efficient propaganda program, was a rising confidence in the Italian capabilities.

Giorgio Borghetti was one of the men that thought that this was the occasion to show to brilliant future of Italian Automotive. In his dreams, next to FIAT, which was supposed to represent the manufacturer of the “car for everyone” should have been his own car factory that should have represented a synthesis of elegance and performance, something very similar to Ettore Bugatti’s concept. Immedialtely after the First World War, infact, Giorgio met Bugatti, who explained his own idea of what should have been a car.

Giorgio had also the luck of being the racing partner, although for a short period, of the future Drake, Enzo Ferrari. So he had the possibility to feel the sensations of driving a real '20s racing car. When his father died, he inherited his factory that built prestigious carriages from the early nineteenth century in Brescia, in Lombardy, and decided to convert the factory into a small car factory, made almost entirely by hand.
In order to emphasize the will to represent Italy as a manufacturer of extremely elegant and powerful cars, together with trust and loyalty to the regime, Giorgio Borghetti named the newborn factory “Impero Automobili”. After the end of the war in 1945 due to the desire to cancel the historic period of Mussolini’s dictatorship, the Lombard company emblem was also canceled, as it contained symbols recalling the Duce and his politics. It was allowed only in the emblem printed on the car. Its representation was forbidden, even for informative purposes, despite the controversy over the excessive severity.

The first car realized by Giorgio was built on chassis of previous cars whose origin is still unknown, but they were surely adapted to bear a really high weight.
Due to its characteristics, many fans of historic cars use to compare it with the legendary Bugatti Royale.
On the temporal level, the car is more modern and the body more streamlined, but the chassis are certainly older, maybe from the early 1920s.
However, despite all its mysteries, the car remains on of the most beautiful creations ever made…


MCF Cars
#2

THE ROYAL BEAUTY

The choices of the chassis and the engine were pretty clever but also dictated by the lack of funds needed to design something entirely new. So, if the chassis was taken from still unknown 1920s cars, the engine was obtained from two 8-cylinder engines from 1930s trucks. Obviously they were readjusted in order to develop more horsepower and enough torque to obtain a refined but also dynamic and fast car. The engine work lasted 5 months, and that demonstrated a quite good attention to the detalis. Giorgio’s racing experiences not only helped the workers of the newborn factory to know how to work in the motor field, but also made them passionate about racing world, although it was just the beginning.
At the end of the work, Borghetti’s first car engine appeared like this:

It was a huge V16 engine with over 406 hp and 1110 Nm of torque, which weighed nearly 778 kg.

Engine main specs
  • 16,397 cc
  • block and head in cast iron
  • bore x stroke : 111 x 106 mm
  • 8 single-body carburetors
  • SOHC, 48 valves ( 3 for each cylinder)
  • 406,4 hp @ 4700 rpm
  • 1110 Nm @ 1300 rpm
  • 778 kg
  • 6,7:1 compression ratio

for the style of the bodywork, Giorgio was inspired by the elegant but clean style of the carriages that were once produced. The overall view offered real pleasure for the eyes of rich buyers willing to invest in a high quality Italian product. Although the actual gains on the model were not impressive due to the high executive quality required, the DV/GL soon became an object of desire for the wealthy exponents of the fascist regime.

Despite the gigantic dimension and the over 3 tones of weight, the V16 engine and the ealborate chassis guaranteed excellent driving dynamics. It was said that Giorgio Borghetti wanted to
give one of these prestigious cars in very limited circulation, only 10 were the exemplaries, to the italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, a well-known lover of fast and elegant cars, such as Bugatti.
Unfortunately, D’Annunzio died before his car was finished, and the project was abandoned.

1936 Impero Automobili DV/GL main specs
  • ladder steel frame
  • 2 doors, 2/3* seats, steel bodywork
  • rear and front double swing arm suspensions
  • 3-speed manual gearbox
  • 3184 kg
  • 420/410 mm drum brakes
  • Front wheels: 240/85/R27; Rear wheels: 255/85R27
  • 181 km/h
  • 0-100 in 9.06s
  • Wheelbase/Lenght/Width: 5.45/ 7.63/ 2.47 m


#3

REVIVE THE COMPANY’S FORTUNES

Despite the only ten models prodced, the magnificent car soon became an icon. In october 1939, while Germany was already invading poland, Giorgio Borghetti managed to make arrangements with a chassis seller, who was also owner of some Alfa Romeo’s racing cars. The first chassis should have arrived in July 1940, but something unexpected happened. Mussolini decided to enter the war the previous month, and soon many factories were forced to convert into war factories: some started to produce engines for airfighters or tanks, others provieded bullets for machine guns, cannons, ships and so on.
Impero Automobili used the chassis arrived in July '40 to produce armored cars, while the V16 engines were adjusted to mounted in new trucks or military vehicles. The thing went on until the armistice, in 1943, when the plants, amplified in 1941, were partially destroyed by the bombings and the partisans, levaing the factory in a very bad condition. Meanwhile, Giorgio and his collaborators managed to escape before being captured by the partisans, who would have killed them, guilty of having collaborated with the fascist regime.
After the end of the war, they came back to Brescia: the factory was completely destroyed outside, but some machines inside fortunately remained untouched:
the possibilities to revive the activity were there.


#4

THE HISTORICAL TURNING POINT

Desptite the collaboration with the regime, Giorgio and his collaborators saw a great support, that was given by who believed in an italian luxury brand, capable of compete against Bentley, Aston Martin, Bugatti and a new born car manufacturer, which was founded by someone who Giorgio knew well: Enzo Ferrari. Even before the reconstruction work was finished, Borghetti reunited all his collaborators, engineers and varoius technicians to exhibit his new idea: a fast and elegant GT, able to compete against the new Sports car that raced in the most iconic circuit of entire world, such as Le Mans, Sebring, the Nurburgring, Monza and so on.
_While the factory was about to be completely usable, the new project engaged Giorgio and the others.
The new car would have been the first under this name: FIMA Automobili;


The new logo of Giorgio Borghetti’s company, 1949

The acronym stands for Italian Engine and Car Factory, and this was the project of the 2312 GT:

The engine chosen was a front mounted V12, with the banks inclined 60 degrees, entirely designed by FIMA engineers, able to develop 116 hp.

Engine main specs
  • 2313 cc
  • block and head in cast iron
  • bore x stroke: 64.5 x 59 mm
  • 3 single-body carburetors
  • OHV, 24 valves (2 for each cylinder)
  • 115.9 hp @5800 rpm
  • 177.1 Nm @ 4000 rpm
  • 178 kg of weight
  • 7.4:1 compression ratio

The car was ready in November 1949, and partecipated in 1950-51 races. The model wasn’t presented at any show: in fact the Mille Miglia of 1950 was chosen as the place of presentation. Giorgio, the day before race, met Ferrari and told him that the next day would have received a nice surprise.
Thinking about it, the Mille Miglia was the perfect place: in fact Brescia was the city where the competion used to get started, but it was also the hometown of the newborn FIMA Automobili. Giorgio was known as a very ambitious man, but no one though he was going to take part at the race, also because the factory was finished not so may days before.

The participating cars were divided into classes, based on their engine size, and the 2312 GT ( 2312 = 2.3 Litres, 12 cylinders), which meant that the category for the new GT was S + 2.0. Despite its underpowered engine, the FIMA 2312 GT obtained remarkable results, with a 6th and 10th place, while the other model, had a brake failure that forced the withdraw. The other result which really stroke both Ferrari and Maserati, was a direct rivalry with the Aston DB2, at Le Mans, which lasted for hole race. The car was particularly reliable, on very stressful circuit that included long straights, as the Mulsanne, which required a high resistance at high revs and speed.


The 2312 GT flying in the hills of the central Italy, Mille Miglia 1950

The qualities of the interior finishes and the beauty of the bodywork allowed the car to have a respectable place in the Gran Turismo and Sport Car market, registering good sales also in the UK.

1950 FIMA Automobili 2312 GT main specs
  • steel trellis frame
  • 3 doors, 2/2 * seats, alluminum bodywork
  • front double swing arm and rear axle suspension, with springs
  • 4-speed manual gearbox
  • 912.6 kg
  • Front and Rear Wheels: 145/90/R15
  • 195 km/h
  • 0-100 in 8.94s
  • Cx: 0,291
  • Wheelbase/Length/Width: 2.64/ 4.23/ 1.69 m


A 1951 car, used only for competions, with the classic racing red.

Nowadays the 2312 GT is considered a piece of the history of Italian automotive and racing vehicles, with an estimated value of over 6 milion dollars, but in a recent auction in the West Coast in the USA, a model used for the Nurburgring race in 1950 was sold for over 11.5 milion dollars.
This because of the extreme rarity and prestige, that some say it’s superior of a Ferrari’s one.


#5

This latest car of yours may well be the point at which FIMA comes of age - it is as fast as it looks.


#6

AMERICAN MARKET AND RACING SUCCESSES

Lots of opportunities were opened by 1953, but meanwhile Giorgio Borghetti had to be hospitalized for a severe illness. The factory was for the next 10 months under the administration of his most trusted collaborators, which saw the USA as a tasty market for the type of cars builded in the Lombard factory.
Giorgio, in care in Geneva, let them free on how to act for the coming months, although he declared that he wanted to supervise any new proposed project. A new GT for the US market could have brought both great fame and important amounts of money to be re-invested in races.

The 2312 sales went well until 1954, when the car was replaced with the 2712 GS (Grand Sport), presented at the 1954 Turin Motor Show.
The place chosen for the presentation was much more formal, because the main objective, before the results in the competitions, was to gather potential buyers, especially form the US.

The choices made for the engine saw a substantial increase in the volume, maintaining the number of cylinders; also the carburetor configuration was changed, in order to increase the amount of horsepower.

Engine main specs
  • 2679 cc
  • block and head in cast iron
  • bore x stroke: 70 x 58 mm
  • 3 double-body carburetors
  • SOHC, 36 valves (3 for each cylinder)
  • 190.6 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • 228.7 Nm @ 5600 rpm
  • 218 kg
  • 8,5:1 compression ratio


One of the very first car, exiting from the factory, 1954


Speed test at the company’s private test facility, 1954

Despite the great power, the 2712 GS offered great comfort to both driver and passengers. there is however to say that the cars sent overseas, saw a modification to the suspension and the dampers , making the car softer and therefore comfortable. The cars destined for the European market were more dynamic and rigid, in order to make them competitive against Ferrari and Maserati, but also Jaguar and Aston Martin.

1954 FIMA Automobili 2712 GT main specs
  • Steel trellis frame
  • 2 doors, 2/2* seats, glass fiber bodywork
  • Front MacPherson and rear longitudinal swinging arms suspensions
  • 4-speed manual gearbox
  • 943.7 kg
  • 300/260 mm drum brakes
  • Front Wheel: 160/70/R15; Rear Wheel: 190/70/R15
  • 230 Km/h
  • 0-100 km/h in 7.74s
  • Cx: 0,311
  • Wheelbase/ Length /Width: 2.63/ 4.51/ 1.73 m

The revenue from the sales of the new GS, were largely reinvested in the creation of a sports division of the brand the FIMA Corse, with partial independence, and in the expansion of the factory.
If the passed years FIMA entered the competions with the original 2312 GT, the 1955 and 1956 WSCC saw a completely renewed car, which maintained the same chassis of the 2712 GS but had huge bodywork modifications and a much bigger and powerful engine, built specifically to reach unprecedented speeds.
Thanks to the 312 CMS the FIMA placed in the championship immediately behind the Aston Martin, even if it showed on several occasions to have the qualities also to win.
That year the 24 hours of the Nurburgring was out of the sports championship, but the car was able to demonstrate its excellent qualities in the circuit, coming second, behind Ferrari. In 1956 Mille Miglia , despite an almost complete domain of the Mecedes 300 SL, in the GT + 2.0 category, the 312 CMS was able to have its say, reaching the highest top speed of the track.

What allowed these results was a great engine: a 3.0 V12 with greater compression and 6 DCOE carburetors:

Engine main specs
  • 2982 cc
  • block and head in cast iron
  • bore x stroke : 74.5 x 57 mm
  • 6 DCOE Weber carburetors
  • SOHC, 48 valves (4 for each cylinder)
  • 258.2 hp @ 7200 rpm
  • 287.5 Nm @ 5700 rpm
  • 246 kg
  • 8.9: 1 compression ratio


FIMA 312 CMS, Nurburgring 1955

FIMA Corse 312 CMS main specs
  • steel trellis frame
  • 2 doors, 2 seats, glass fiber bodywork
  • same 2712 GT suspension ( with race adaptation)
  • 4-speed manual gearbox
  • 982.3 kg
  • Front Wheel: 175/65/R15; Rear Wheel: 215/65/R15
  • 252 Km/h
  • 0-100 in 6.3s
  • Cx: 0.327
  • Wheelbase/Length/Width: 2.63/ 4.49/ 1.78 m

The car was produced in 5 units that took part in numerous competitions, even unofficial, and still today it obtains remarkable results in races with vintage cars like the Ferrari 250s and the agile and powerful British GTs.


A 1956 car, with the Mille Miglia race number, photo taken at the FIMA Museum, Brescia