1968 Fiat 500 F (with126 652cc engine & full synchro gearbox)
Today Fiat is a subsidiary of Stellantis, a company formed in 2021 that is a merger of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and the PSA Group or Peugeot SA. Stellantis is based in The Netherlands and includes the following brands in its stable: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Mopar, Opel, Peugeot, Ram and Vauxhall. Fiat, which is an abbreviation for ‘Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino’, has a fascinating and rich history dating back to 1899. It was founded by Italian entrepreneur Giovanni Agnelli on 11th July 1899. Later that year, the first ever Fiat production car, the Fiat 3½ HP was released. Over the next ten years Fiat went from strength to strength establishing itself as one of Europe’s major car manufacturers and the company was listed on the Milan stock exchange in 1903.
Over the last forty years the Fiat name has been synonymous with budget priced family cars. However, in the early years Fiat was recognised for building some of the world’s very best cars. In the early 1900’s a Fiat cost more than four times the price of a Ford Model T. Post World War II Fiat built some ‘world class’ sporting cars, including the Fiat 8V or ‘Otto Vu’ of which just over 100 examples were built from 1952 through until 1954. Fiat always built cars with a sporting pedigree and many of their models were offered as a saloon, coupe or cabriolet.
In 1936 Fiat introduced the Fiat 500 A Topolino (or ‘little mouse’) which was then the smallest mass-produced car in the world. Its low price made it accessible to people who had never before been able to afford a car. These fabulous little cars pioneered what is today referred to as ‘budget priced small cars’. In addition to the 2-door sedan, there was also a transformable version with a sunroof and a van version originally created for the army.
The post-war period saw the launch of the 500 B in 1948, boasting a new engine and various technical innovations to improve performance and efficiency. But the novelty lay in its giardiniera version, a genuine compact family car with 4 seats and a big loading space when the back seat was down. The 500 C arrived in 1949, with an aluminium cylinder head, a heating system and especially a more modern body, in which the headlights were sunk into the front guards. The Topolino morphed into the Fiat 600 in 1955 and the Fiat 500 ‘Nuova’ in 1957. The ‘Nuova’ was produced from 1957 through until 1961. It featured a fabric roof which folded down to the rear of the vehicle, suicide doors and was powered by a 497cc engine generating 13 hp. The 500 ‘Nuova’ was succeeded by the 500 D, which was produced from 1960 through until 1965. This was the last model with suicide doors. In 1965 the Fiat 500 F or Berlina was introduced. The 500 F was produced from 1965 through until 1973 and the fabric roof was also changed and now only covered half of the roof. It also has an uprated engine bored out to 499 cc generating 18hp.
The Fiat 500 was available as a two door ‘saloon’ as well as a two door ‘station wagon’ or ‘estate’ (Giardiniera).
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for a sale a 1968 Fiat 500 F two door ‘saloon’. This car is not your ‘standard’ Fiat 500, it has been upgraded with a Fiat 126 652cc engine and all synchro gearbox.
Not much is known about the history of this Fiat 500 F. It is understood to have been a UK market car that was restored in the UK by its previous owner who lived in Abingdon on Thames in Oxfordshire. The car retains its original ID plate, which matches the stamped chassis number and a B.S.AU48:1965 plate. There is a UK V5 on file that notes the date of first registration as the 17th April 1968. The car was most recently registered in the UK as XPX 670F from the 2nd August 2019. This implies that the car has been off the road for many, many years.
The car was purchased in the UK and imported into Australia in August 2020 by a Sydney based enthusiast and collector. There is an import approval on file dated 8th July 2020.
As noted above, this car is not your ‘standard’ Fiat 500, it has been upgraded with a Fiat 126 652cc engine and all synchro gearbox. It also an Abarth sump, Abarth rocker cover, 123 electronic ignition and a sports exhaust.
Today this car presents and drives really well. We love the period beige colour and the paintwork presents with a good depth of colour. On closer inspection there is the odd blemish and small stone chip here and there. The exterior trim, including the chrome, lights/lenses, glass and rubbers are all in very good condition. The fabric soft top is in good condition and it seals well, though for some reason a previous owner has found it necessary to put some ‘lift the dot’ fasteners on it. The interior in these little Fiats is basic, yet charming. The upholstery is finished in light tan with beige accents and tan carpets, which matches perfectly with the beige paint. The instrument cluster is extremely simple. There is only the speedo, which is in excellent condition. In addition to the speedo, all of the controls on this car are in working order. In this particular example the white instrument binnacle and white steering wheel contract subtly with the beige dash. The upholstery is all in good condition with no rips or tears. Surprisingly, the seats are relatively comfortable given their simplicity.
The starting procedure is simple. You put the key in the ignition and turn it clockwise. These cars have a choke lever and starter lever, both located between the seats. Pull the choke lever up, then pull the starter lever and the engine bursts into life immediately. It doesn’t take long for the engine to warm up and once it has you can push the choke handle back and the engine will settle into a smooth idle. The sports exhaust fitted to this car makes it sound like it means business.
It’s time for a test drive! Driving a Fiat 500 is always great fun! These little cars have a huge cuteness factor and whilst they are small, they certainly stand out on the open road! You can’t help but get noticed by other road users and pedestrians wherever you go. There’s always lots of finger pointing and smiles as you drive on by! With the upgraded engine, this Fiat 500 is somewhat of a ‘beast’ to drive compared to the original. In the Fiat 500 world, this upgrade is quite common and it makes the car so much more usable. You probably have 26 hp on tap compared to only 18 hp from the original 500 cc engine. Whilst that doesn’t seem like a lot, the car doesn’t weigh much and as a result it is quite zippy and surprisingly easy to drive in modern day traffic. The engine is strong and the car has no issue accelerating ‘hard’ up to 60 km/h and beyond when necessary! The all synchro gearbox makes the power far more usable also. This car handles well and the brakes pull the car up effectively in a straight line.
Accompanying the car is a spare wheel, jack and some receipts of recent work done to the car.
Today the odometer reads 39,934 miles.
- a well presented and well maintained example of an iconic car
- upgraded with 652cc Fiat 126 engine and gearbox.
- mechanically sorted and ready to use and enjoy.
- Finished in a fabulous period colour scheme.
Did we mention how much fun it is to drive this car? La dolce vita indeed!
- Fiat 500 F
- 39,394 miles