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The Fiat 1100 was first introduced in 1937. Body styling, done by the emerging designer Dante Giacosa, was similar to the 1936 Fiat 500 "Topolino" and the larger 1500, with the typical late-thirties heart-shaped front grille. It was powered by a 1,089 cc four-cylinder overhead-valve engine rather than the earlier Balilla's 1-litre unit. Power was up by a third, to 32 PS (24 kW) at 4000 rpm. There was also a more sporting model on offer, the 42 PS (31 kW) "508 CMM". The Fiat 508C was a 4-door saloon with 4 windows (2 windows on each side without the rear quarter window). Some other 4-door saloons had 6 windows (3 windows on each side with the rear quarter window).
Drive was to the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox, and for the period, its comfort, handling, and performance were prodigious, making it "the only people's car that was also a driver's car". Unusual for a modestly priced car of the time was the independent front suspension, while the rear had a leaf sprung live axle. Subsequently the car underwent a partial restyling around the front end and gained new streamlined window-shaped louvres and was renamed the 1100B and was popularly known as the "1100 musone" (i. e. "big muzzle"). After World War II, in 1949, the car was re-introduced with a curvy boot and new name, the 1100E. The 1100E also received a bit more power, and now had 35 PS (26 kW). Both the 508C and the 1100B were also available as the long wheelbase 508L which was mainly used for vans and taxis.