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Fiat 500 & Abarth 595/695 buying guide (1957-1973)

Fiat 500 & Abarth 595/695 buying guide (1957-1973) Classic and Performance Car
Speed isn’t everything; the original Fiat 500 certainly proves that. Slow cars can be just as much fun as the most powerful supercars, and whatever flavour of 500 you find yourself driving, there’s no shortage of entertainment to be had.

While the UK had the Morris Minor, France was mobilised by the Citroen 2CV and German roads were filled with Volkswagen Beetles, it was all about the Fiat 500 in Italy. More than 3.8 million rolled off the various production lines

Which one to buy?

Go for one of the extremely rare pre-1960 Nuova 500 models for the slowest experience, with a mere 13bhp from the 479cc engine. From 1960, a slightly larger 17bhp engine was fitted. All of the pre-65 models feature suicide doors, and are much more difficult to find parts for. Later models are the most straightforward to buy, run and restore.

Of course the original and replica Abarth models add a substantial kick and are an absolute hoot to drive. Factory built examples are extremely difficult to come across – especially in the UK – but thankfully there were more than a few converted to Abarth spec in period, as well as a great many that have subsequently been upgraded to various levels.

The most popular and best all-round option is to find a tidy post-1965 car, fitted with a few upgrades. The installation of a later Fiat 126 engine and gearbox is hugely popular, as it’s a significant step-up in performance. Tune the engine a little more with a fruity cam and better-flowing exhaust to free up some extra power, fit a disc brake conversion and you’ll have a very usable classic.

Performance and spec

1957 Fiat Nuova 500
Engine 479cc Vertical twin, OHV, aircooled
Power 13bhp
Torque 20.2lb ft
Top Speed 59mph
0-60mph N/A
Consumption 52.3mpg
Gearbox four-speed manual

Common Problems

• Unsurprisingly, the Fiat 500 was built very cheaply in order to keep costs down. This was great for new buyers, but it means that today, virtually every single 500 will have needed some bodywork repairs.

• Low-quality steel, and a lack of any substantial rust-proofing from the factory means that rust was a big killer. Today it’s the main concern for any buyer.

• Thankfully the small and simple nature of the 500’s structure means that it should be easy to assess the overall condition.

• Most panels are available off the shelf, although replacement parts for the pre-1965 cars can be a lot more difficult to source.

• There aren’t any particular areas to check, as rust can strike anywhere. Work your way through the sills, wheel arches, floors, windscreen surrounds and basically anywhere you can gain access to. Any signs of bubbling paint should be treated with suspicion.

• Crash and impact damage is not uncommon, especially low-speed bumps on the rear corners. This can knock suspension alignment out, as well as knocking the engine out of position, causing driveshaft and gear linkage problems.

• These are mechanically simple cars, and most parts are available. Engines become more clattery as they become tired. If combined with a strong oily smell and a desire to stall easily – it needs rebuilding or replacement.

• Straight-cut first gear can be noisy, and without synchros it’s sometimes a difficult ‘box to use. First is noisy, but it shouldn’t make too much sound while cruising.

• Listen out for any knocks and bangs from the suspension and driveshafts. It’s all easily fixed, but the cost should be taken into account when buying the car.

• The drum brakes are generally strong if in good working order. Budget for a rebuild if they aren’t up to the job. If the car has been tuned, a decent disc brake conversion is extremely desirable.

Model History

1957 Nuova (new) 500 model introduced, with 479cc, 13bhp, two-cylinder engine. Full-length folding fabric roof, suicide doors.
1958 Carlo Abarth produces his first modified version of the 500.
1960 D model with 499cc, 17bhp engine and shorter fabric roof.
1960 K or Giardiniera estate version introduced.
1963 Abarth 595 now available, with 26bhp and uprated chassis.
1964 Abarth 595SS introduced, with 32bhp. This is followed by 695, 695SS and 695 Assetto Corsa.
1965 F or Berlina replaces D and brings in front-hinged doors.
1968 L or Lusso introduced alongside the F. New dash and more comfortable interior, plus extra nudge bar on bumpers.
1972 R or Rinnovata replaces L. 594cc, 23bhp engine, and new interior with fuel gauge omitted (low fuel warning light only).
1975 F and R models phased out, replaced by new 126. Giardiniera estate continues until 1977.

Key clubs and websites

- fiatownersclub.co.uk
- fiat500club.org.uk
- fiatforum.com

Summary and prices

Fiat 500 prices continue to steadily rise, with Abarth models stronger than ever. Expect to pay around £15,000 for a great standard car, although a perfect car can be more. £7000-£10,000 is enough to secure a reasonably usable car. Any less than that and you will likely run into big bills further down the line.

Abarth replicas are generally more fun and well set-up than the originals, and can be picked up for around £20,000 in great shape. Collectors covet genuine Abarths, and in top-spec 695SS form can fetch upwards of £55,000. The slightly more sensible 595 models are generally about £10k cheaper, however all are exceedingly difficult to source in the UK.
Last updated: 4th Sep 2015
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Fiat 500 cars for sale

45 Search results
Fiat 500
2995 12950 GBP
  • FIAT 500 C “TOPOLINO”, MILLE MIGLIA 1951

    POA POA

    SOLD TO THE UNITED STATES, This specific example took part successfully in the 1951 Mille Miglia drove by Lippi-Albertoni Brand Fiat Type 500 C “Topolino” Color Grey Interior Grey Year of build 1950 Price Sold 1950 FIAT “TOPOLINO” An original 1951 Mille Miglia Fiat “Topolino” With lot of old photos of the car during its racing career and copies of original Mille Miglia documents With the original of the italian registration in Bologna This very unique Fiat “Topolino” Mille Miglia 1951 has been sold to a customer in the United States. If you are interested in the same model or If you are willing to sell a rare/unique automobile or your entire collection, we are looking forward to hear from you. Our collection is changing on a daily base and exists of approximately 90 cars. Due to the fact that some cars are transported or restored we do not offer all of our cars on the web. If you have specific requests, please let us know as we might have the car in our collection or we can help you in find your specific car. The car is expected very soon and more information will be on line. In the meantime if you would like to receive more information please contact us. MORE INFORMATION For more

    • Year: 1950
    For sale
    The Houtkamp Collection
  • 2009 Fiat 500 1.2 Pop

    £2,995 £2,995

    2009 (59) Fiat 500, 1.2 petrol engine, manual gearbox, 82k on the clock, full service history with services at 8k, 22k, 38k, 56k and the last one at 74k in May 2016, the Mot is until 7/10/17 and has no advisories, this is the Pop model so comes with electric windows and mirrors, CD player, city steering, and remote central locking, this car is in excellent condition throughout and drives great, its a real fun car with cheap running costs and tax is just £30 a year! it comes with 2 keys and the manual bookpack. Im based in Bristol but happy to discuss delivery if you need it. £2995 no offers. Call / Text Paul 07771 808044

    • Mileage: 82500 mi
    For sale
  • Fiat 500 L

    POA POA

    - Three former keepers and 48,500 recorded miles - Extensively restored between 2007 and 2011 - Engine overhauled in 2014 and MoT'd until January 2018

    • Year: 1971
    For sale
  • Fiat 500 Giardiniera

    POA POA

    POA Overview The replacement for FIAT's much-loved 500 Topolino, the Nuova 500 debuted in 1957. A radical departure from its predecessors essentially pre-war design, FIAT's new baby featured unitary construction, an opening fabric roof and all-independent suspension while carrying its engine at the rear. The latter was an air-cooled, overhead-valve twin – the first such used by FIAT – and the gearbox was a four-speeder. Introduced in 1968 alongside the standard 500F, the deluxe Fiat 500L, while mechanically identical, came with exterior cosmetic enhancements and an improved interior featuring new instrument panel, seats and floor covering. An immense success for FIAT, almost 3,000,000 of these adorable little cars had been sold when production ceased in 1975. The 500 remains as popular today as it ever was. Arriving shortly: 1972 Fiat 500 Giardiniera. First launched in 1961, and from 1968 manufactured by Fiat in Milan as the Fiat 500 Giardinera, with full length sun roof, with rear door, ideal as a family classic runabout or with livery for an Italian Restaurant or delicatessen. EU taxes paid Estate car with hinged rear door, and full sun roof. Black, fully restored Excellent await

    • Year: 1972
    • Mileage: 33780 mi
    For sale
  • Fiat 500 L Saloon 1972

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Fiat 500 L 1972 dark blue in very good condition 1972 Fiat 500L. This L-variant of the 500 was introduced in 1968. This model was a more luxurious edition of de 500F and had amongst others extra chrome grips at the bumpers, little rain gutters with chrome decorative strips and a more luxurious interior. Paint is dark blue with brown interior, really a great and chic combination. The paint, interior, roof etc are in very good condition. The 499 CC 22 HP engine is in a very good condition. Drives excellent. The car is in Holland since 1997. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1972
    For sale
  • Fiat 500 L 1971

    €12,950(£11,546.22) €12,950(£11,546.22)

    Fiat 500 L 1971, restored This Fiat 500 L was originally delivered in Holland in 1971. The car has only had 2 owners since 1971. In 2016 this 500 L was restored and was provided with beautiful yellow paint, beautiful chrome and a new sunroof. The interior has black leather and is in very good condition. The original 499 CC engine was fully checked. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1971
    For sale
  • Fiat 500 L 1972

    €11,950(£10,654.62) €11,950(£10,654.62)

    Fiat 500 L 1972 in very good condition Marvelous 1972 Italian Fiat 500L. This Fiat has a sunroof and beautiful whit paint. Both the body and interior are in very good condition. The interior has brown leather with black piping. The simple dashboard has a single combi-clock and beautiful original steering wheel. This Fiat drives perfect. The car has the original 499CC, 2 cyl engine. This is a very beautiful Fiat 500, a pleasure to drive. Car has Italian title and mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1972
    For sale
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