During a recent automotive antiquing trip, Autoweek writer Graham Kozak stumbled upon a stack of old photos that depicted a mysterious custom car from the 1940s. They showed a somewhat blockish custom roadster with a placard in front of it that read “American Eagle Spark Plugs presents Paul Farago’s Custom Built Italian Fiat,” prompting him to investigate the history behind the mysterious Fiat.
The first clue Kozak found in regards to the car was a Detroit Free Press article dated Oct. 9, 1949 that was titled: ‘The Car That a Dream Built’. The article revealed the car was based on a Fiat chassis that was in the possession of Kaiser-Frazer Corp. for testing purposes.
The article also revealed the mystery Fiat’s specifications. With a 1,089cc inline-four and light 1,640-pound curb weight, the custom creation would reach a speed of 113 mph and return 35 MPG. This helped it along during its first outing to the track at Watkins Glen in 1950, where it finished ninth, and also later when it returned to the track in Detroit in 1952. The car also competed in concours events, winning the first-ever Watkins Glen Concours d’Elegance in 1949.
Autoweek also dug up some info on the owner of the custom Fiat, Paul Farago. The Italian’s family moved to Detroit in 1930 where, after serving in WWII, Farago opened Farago’s Auto Service. This was where the Fiat roadster was constructed, a project he spent only $1,100 dollars on.
Farago later found work with Chrysler serving as the communication link between Chrysler designer Virgil Exner and the guys over at Italian design firm Carrozzeria Ghia, as they did not speak English. Later, he built the 1969 Pontiac CF428 concept car following orders from John Z. DeLorean – purveyor of the famous DMC-12.
The rest of Farago’s story is mostly a mystery, as is the whereabouts of his car. Autoweek is currently on the hunt for Farago’s custom Fiat, or at least for intel that will reveal what its fate was, so drop them a line if you think you know.