Fiat Formula 4 and Formula Hammer by Italdesign

Car of the Day #91: 1996 Fiat Formula 4 by Italdesign

Fiat Formula 4 and Formula Hammer by Italdesign
The image above shows the car with its “Formula 4” high-cowl body on the right, and the “Formula Hammer” with low sills on the left. • via Italdesign

A twofer on Monday? When you see what I’m packaging together, perhaps you won’t be so thrilled to be reading this. ;)

As you can imagine, I'm pretty open with what sort of vehicles I like, and I wouldn't necessarily dump on something just because it looks a little different, and yet: Giorgetto Giugiaro and Italdesign didn’t usually get things very wrong, but when it did…

The 1996 Fiat Formula 4 concept-slash-prototype includes a number of items on my DO NOT WANT list, beginning with wire wheels. Here’s the list:

  • Wire wheels
  • Open top
  • Rear seats
  • Fiat mechanicals (Fiat Bravo platform)
  • Silver
  • Hoop-style rollover protection
  • Fart can-style exhaust tip
  • Three legged rear aero appendage (rear spoiler on Formula 4)

Here’s what I do like:

  • 5-cylinder engine
  • Red interior
  • Anodized(?) red fasteners on the rear light covers
  • Stickers for badges
Fiat Formula 4 by Italdesign • via Italdesign

This must be a generational thing, but I don't think wire wheels are at all, ever, elegant or attractive. Here, on a more modern car, they look even more abhorrent; but it's only the tip of the iceberg.

Formula 4's body may be '90s, but all of the details—and I mean all of them—are "classic". Exposed fasteners for its trim, old-timey windshields, chrome mirrors, Nardi steering wheel…it looks like the ghost of Mille Miglia barfed on a Barchetta.

Its “California” black license plate? Puh-leaze. But a special shout-out to the group of models and / or Italdesign employees who braved the cold in order to help capture the wintery-looking shot below.

Underneath, the Formula 4 is a basic Bravo floorpan, including a 147 horsepower 5-cylinder engine but without doors — this is so a "fit over" body could be installed.

Yes, this is a transforming car, this time a skateboard of sorts that could be given various bodies: roadster, "leisure-time", truck, van, or perhaps something independently styled; all would have been made from plastic. As the sole style shown at its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1996, you’ll have to use you imagination.

Formula 4, left; Formula Hammer, right.
Formula Hammer interior • via Italdesign

I promised you a twofer, and here it is: Formula 4 was updated and shown a few months later at the Turin Motor Show as the Formula Hammer, notable for its jolly, tender-like body. I mean that in the literal sense of being a yacht tender and/or island runabout, or perhaps the perfect whip for the mean streets of Monte Carlo.

In my opinion, less bodywork didn't make it better.

A shame, because the body technology to make it all happen (and the idea of swapping the upper half of our vehicles on a whim) is quite clever.

Where's my Formula Truck???


Thank you to my supporting members: Ben B., Brad B., Chris G., Daniel G., Damian S., Daniel P., Drew M., Ingrid P., Karl D., Luis O., Michael J., Michael L., Michelle S., Mike B., Mike L., Mike M., Richard W., Sam G., Sam L., Wiley H.