1971 Fiat 500L
1971 Fiat 500L
- Lovely condition inside and out.
- Restored to Abarth specification.
- Stripped to a bare shell and fitted with 650cc engine.
- Great fun on the road and always turns heads.
Fiat had plans for a compact and affordable car as early as 1919, but it was not until 1937 that an actual production car would be launched in the form of the 500 “Topolino”. The Topolino, which translates as the “little mouse” in Italian, became the people’s choice in Italy with production continuing right on through until 1957, when a replacement was launched in the form of the Nuova 500 (New 500).
The “new” 500 needs no introduction, it is quite possibly the most iconic car ever made and one that conjures idyllic images of Italy, Italians and “La Dolce Vita”. During its production (1957-1975) it went through a number of changes and versions. When launched the car was fitted with a 479cc 2-cylinder engine, a fabric roof that would fold back, similar to that of Citroen’s 2CV, and suicide doors. In 1960 the 500D was launched, which had a slightly larger 499cc engine and the folding roof was changed so as to only fold back above the front seats, not the length of the car as it did before. The 500K was an estate version, nicknamed the ‘Giardiniera’ and was the longest running model being introduced in 1960 and made until the end of 500 production in 1975. The 500F was launched in 1965 and was identical to the ‘D’ except the suicide doors were replaced with a more traditional front-hinged design. The penultimate iteration of the 500 was the 500L, which stood for ‘Lusso’ (Luxury). This version saw the greatest changes, with a totally redesigned interior which included a new dashboard, instruments, seats and floor coverings to bring the 500 up to date and in keeping with the tastes of the time. A time when the 500 was no longer seen as an austerity mode of transport but a symbol of fashion and style. The final version was the 500R, which was essentially a stop-gap prior to the launch of the 500 replacement, the Fiat 126. The ‘R” was based on the 500L floor-plan but featured a 594cc engine designed by Abarth and a fully-synchromesh transmission.
This rare RHD example is one of the ‘L” models and was produced in 1971. Little is known of the cars early history, but it was acquired by the proprietor of renowned Fiat and Abarth specialists, Middle Barton Garage, in the late 90’s and it was at this time that the project of completely restoring the car began, with the mission being to build the ultimate iteration of the iconic 500, using various parts and components from the later Fiat 126. The result is the stunning car you see today, powered by a 652cc Abarth designed engine, uprated suspension, fully synchromesh transmission and sitting on rare period Abarth alloys. It would seem the mission was a success. After some light use the car passed to a local owner who has owned the car for the past 10 years, keeping it garaged and only taking it out in fine conditions. The combination of a fantastic restoration by a marque specialist and the recent long term ownership by a fastidious owner means this lovely little car is still in ‘recently restored’ condition, and is an absolute hoot on the road thanks to the more powerful engine and the well sorted chassis. If you are looking for style, character and some good old fashion motoring fun, then this car is perfect.