Brian Powles - Supercar 1977

In much the same way that long time fans refer to 'real stock cars with real bodies', many long time drivers talk longingly about the time when stock cars looked like stock cars . . . when you got a body from here, a bonnet from there, and a grille from some other place and moulded them into an exciting new shape ...

Brian Powles is one such driver, and his love affair, for want of a better description, with the Fiat 500 bodyshell goes back to before he was married (!); to the all conquering Nev Hughes Toppolino bodied Buick special of 1963 which he helped build. When Brian decided to get in on the act as a driver in 1970 it was the 430 Lincoln from Mick O'Hara that he made his debut in, and it had a Toppolino body. And when he returned in 1973 after a season and a half lay-off with an arm injury it was in what I consider one of the prettiest new cars of its era, this time with a Nuova 500 bodyshell-again from Fiat.

The subsequent Powles specials have all been enveloped in Nuova 500 bodies. There was one for Stu Bamforth, his own 1976 car which went to Sam Ostel, and this year's supercar illustrated above ... it could be said that after a fourteen year affair Brian Powles must know every intimate detail of a Fiat 500.

In an effort to give the '77 version an individual identity the bodywork has come in for a few 'custom' tricks, like the reworked side windows, and the tail spoiler, but this is not to the detriment of what in this era is a highly individual yet traditional formula one stock car.

The construction details are recorded in detail in the 1977 STOCK CAR ANNUAL . . . chassis with 3 1/2 in. square main rails, 100 in. wheelbase, and LS6 Chevy 454 powerplant, but this section of the mag is mostly about the 'lookers' on our tracks and the red and white Powles projectile, beautifully enhanced with an outstanding sign job is one of the few remaining traditional 'lookers'. But for my money you have to go back to 1973 for the real classic the Powles projectile was a hardly cut 500 shell allied to that neat Mercedes grille .... now that was a real stock car.

For the future, Brian tells us he's constantly on the lookout for the current style Fiat 500 to bring his image up to date. But failing that he's still got his tabs on a few more of the old 500 should the need arise... after all. Brian Powles without a Fiat body would be like Stu Smith in ordinary overalls...


Find out more about the Fiat 500 and the Fiat 500 "Topolino"