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Fiat 500 & 600

Fiat 500 & 600 Published: 17th Jan 2020 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fiat 500 & 600
Fiat 500 & 600
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Why should I buy one?

It’s often said that the best things come in small packages, and where the Fiat 500 is concerned, that’s a sentiment that’s easy to believe. Easy to park, frugal, overdosing in character they make practical daily drivers for those who live in towns and maintaining one is no big deal. And has there ever been a more cute city commuter?

What can I get?

Produced between 1957 and 1975 and replaced by the 126 in ’73, pre-’65 cars used rear-hinged suicide doors and are rarities in the UK. Unless you’re after an original, the later the 500 the better, with the 500L and 500F particularly good bets. Look out for the rare end-of-the-line 500R which boasted 126 power but, as it’s such a popular upgrade, so do many 500s now. Leaving out the super but super-pricey Abarths, other noteworthy versions include the family-sized estate Giardiniera (1960-77) and the larger 600 offshoot which is more than merely a pumpedup 500 as it features water-cooled engines and, on some, a novel useful ‘transmission brake’. The 600 was also made by Seat, with an optional four-door model as well, but you’ll have to go to Spain to find them so will be left-hand drive.

What are they like to drive?

Classics don’t have to be fast to be fun, the Fiat 500 is proof of this. Original mouses can barely top 60 and even 126-powered versions will find it hard to break the legal limit but so what? Like the iconic 2CV, with such little power on tap, the handling rarely causes concern within its pedestrian limits, likewise the standard drum brakes suffice. A good 500 is a laugh a mile and nippy and nimble enough for urban use plus the car is easy to tune and improve to make out-of -town motoring happier. If you’re considering a 500 as a learner driver classic, bear in mind that its non-synchro ‘crash’ gearboxes are primitive and hardly conducive for novice tuition; the later 126 transmission fits easily and makes a 500 far friendlier in this respect.

What are they like to live with?

According to leading 500 specialists, such as motobambino.com (a Fiat 500 parts and restoration business) the car is DIY friendlier than our Mini and in the main, spare parts availability is excellent. There’s also a wealth of upgrades at modest costs. For example, simply fitting the later 126 engine gives virtually Abarth 595 pep at a fraction of the price. Rust is the main worry; it’s worst at the back. As with the VW, just because it’s a simple air-cooled engine, don’t be fooled thinking there’s no cooling system to worry about. Front suspension can suffer from a worn single transverse leaf spring. See if the car sits level from head on – if it’s leaning you’ll need to fit a new spring. Front kingpins and steering boxes commonly wear as well. By-and-large, 600s can be up to half the price of a 500, the sole exception being the people-carrying Multipla, the world’s smallest minibus, where £30,000 price tags aren’t unknown. Otherwise budget for up to £20,000 for a perfect standard model although merely decent ones come Beetle-priced.

Biggest bargain is the replacement square-shape 126. True, they don’t possess those cheeky looks and character of the 500 but are more useable and were made up to the year 2000 in Poland.

We reckon

Renowned F1 and McLaren supercar designer Gordon Murray is a staunch fan as he finds life in the slow lane is laughter all the way with a Fiat 500. And you’ll probably come to the same conclusion



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