The Fiat Coupe may not have happened had the Cadillac Allante been a success. This is the hot take from Matteo Licata’s latest YouTube gem.
Matteo – aka Roadster Life – explains how Pininfarina had built an entire factory to build the Allante bodies, which were shipped to the U.S. on a trio of Boeing 747s.
General Motors called it the ‘Allante Airbridge’, but for U.S. customers, the idea of an Italian-American convertible was a bridge too far. Early cars were dogged by leaks and quality issues, while the original 4.1-litre V8 didn’t pack enough punch to give the Allante any pull.
Things did improve. The 4.5-litre Northstar V8 delivered the power the Allante deserved, while later upgrades such as electronic suspension and uprated brakes turned it into a convincing Caddy.
Sadly, the Cadillac Allante failed to recover from the reputation of the earlier models, with Americans turning to the Mercedes-Benz SL to fulfil their boulevard dreams. Production ceased in 1993, by which time just 21,430 had been built.
Coincidentally, 1993 is also the year in which the Fiat Coupe was unveiled to the world at the Brussels Motor Show, although work had started on the project in 1990.
As outlined on Form Trends, the project was led by Leonardo Fioravanti, head of Fiat’s Centro Stile, before Ermanno Cressoni took the reins when he joined from Alfa Romeo.
But the real hero of the story is Chris Bangle. The designer told Form Trends: “The project began when chief engineer Pietro Tronville – father of the Uno and the man who brought me from Opel to Fiat – called me into his office and explained all about how Pininfarina had this capacity in their plant in Torino because the Cadillac Allante had tanked and they wanted to do a coupe on the Tipo platform.”
Watch as Matteo Licata tells the Fiat Coupe story in his own unique style. Hearing an Italian waxing lyrical about an Italian classic is a wonderfully authentic and enriching experience. Which is why you must subscribe to his channel.
In total, 72,762 Fiat Coupes were produced, of which around 10 per cent came to these shores. It was more successful than the Cadillac Allante, but without the Italian-American convertible, the Italian coupe may not have happened. God bless, America.
Be sure to follow Matteo on Twitter.