One of the most illustrious of Italian coachbuilders, Carrozzeria Vignale had been founded in 1948 by Alfredo Vignale, whose career had begun pre-war with a successful design on the FIAT Topolino chassis. Enzo Ferrari’s favoured coachbuilder during the Maranello manufacturer’s formative years, Carrozzeria Vignale also designed and built cars for Lancia and Maserati among others, and in the 1960s branched out into automobile manufacture in its own right. For FIAT, Vignale built show models, prototypes and some limited edition models. Based on the contemporary FIAT 124 and 125 models, the 1.6-litre Vignale-bodied Samantha was built in small numbers in the late 1960s. Vignale’s sleek coupé body had very fluid lines thanks to the recessed ‘pop up’ headlights, yet nevertheless afforded comfortable seating for four and a decent amount of luggage space. With 100bhp on tap, delivered via a five-speed gearbox, the Samantha was similar in performance to the 125S donor car with a 0-60mph time of 13 seconds and a top speed of 106mph. The downside was that it cost twice as much.
Production run of the Samantha 125S is estimated at approximately 100 and these cars were not distributed through FIAT main dealers, foreign importation being left in the hands of independent specialists. The Samantha was not sold in France, although it was available in Monaco, while its UK distributor was the F Demetriou Group. Only a relative handful are believed to survive, making the Samantha 125S one of the rarest twin-cam FIATs of the period.
Images: www.vignale.org; Zwischengas Archiv