Classic Fiat 500 Car

Small is Beautiful

The cute, dinky little classic Fiat 500 is often the butt of humour, but when it was released in 1957 it was bought by thousands and provided a large part of Italy with transport.

It was built for twenty years with over four million made in total of all the variants. The original version came with a tiny 479cc air-cooled twin which grew in size to a whopping 499cc before the final cars in the early seventies were built with an engine of 594cc. If it is luxury you are after it's those later 500L models that are the ones to go for. Of course, the word luxury is relative in this case.

Transmission was a four-speed crash box (non-synchromesh)for the car's whole life.

Fiat 500
Fiat 500

The Giardiniera

From 1960 an estate version of the classic Fiat 500 was built called the Giardiniera. It was credited with actually having a useful load area, and it was this model that outlived the saloon by a couple of years until production ended in 1977. In its later years it was badged as an Autobianchi.

There were also some cars built under licence in Austria by Steyr-Puch. The difference being that the Steyr-Puch 500 came with an air-cooled flat twin of their own manufacture.

Fiat 500 by Tony Harrison
Fiat 500 by Tony Harrison

The Abarth SS

But the pick of the bunch was the Abarth SS which was good for nearly 90mph and came with flared arches, an oil cooler and a raised rear engine cover (which assisted cooling).

Production for the classic Fiat 500 saloon came to an end in 1975 a few years after the Fiat 500's replacement, the Fiat 126, was released.

There is still a thriving demand for the little Fiat 500 with numerous owners' clubs around the world helping to keep the various versions of the car on the road well in to the new millennium. Not to mention Fiat's own revision of the model with the new Fiat 500 now in the car showrooms.

They don't all go slowly!

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