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SNAPSHOT 186: 1952 Fiat 642 Mobile Training Centre

This Snapshot was found in a magazine article entitled Il secondo “Salone Internazionale della Tecnica” (The second International Technology Exhibition), held in Turin between 27 September and 9 October 1952.  The article waxed lyrical over the marvels to be found in all five sectors of this international exhibition: machinery; plastics; agricultural machinery; cinematography, photography and optics (with the charming phrase: “where the fascinating, overbearing presence of television stood out”) and finally artistic photography.

The journalist was so overwhelmed by it all that it is worth repeating the translation of his next paragraph of exceedingly effusive language:

“Five marvellous worlds, so different and so intimately bound by the secret bond that all modern progression brings together; five surprising kingdoms where, at every step, those who understood what they were seeing discovered a new miracle: but to comprehend everything, to decipher the extent of each particular, it would take a Leonardo da Vinci of the eighteenth century.”  Fairly impressed, then.

The mobile training school in our picture was part of the agricultural machinery sector.  Not only does it carry on its deck a full-sized caterpillar-tracked tractor and a diesel engine for training tractor drivers in maintenance skills, but we can also see at the front of the deck a large cine projector – no doubt for showing technical training films.

It is impossible to identify the coachbuilder responsible for the impressively modern special-purpose coachwork that Fiat commissioned for this exhibition.  We can find no pictures on the internet of this body style.  Fiat used many carrozzerie for its buses, including Viberti and Barbi – but we do not know which one was responsible for this elegant example.

However, we can identify the chassis.  The Fiat bus models current in 1952 were Fiat 642, 668 and 680 – and despite the typically grainy quality of this magazine image, fierce magnification of the information board at the right of the picture clearly shows the number 642.  It also has an indecipherable two-letter suffix, and we suspect that this may be the letters RN (R for Ribassato – a chassis derived from a truck, but with a lowered platform – and N for diesel power).

So successful was this second edition of the Technology Exhibition that the organisers were already planning the third for 1953.  And Fiat were possibly already commissioning an even more modern vehicle to show off their expertise once again.


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