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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

24 Search results
Fiat 500
6495 20200 GBP
  • Fiat - 500 Francis Lombardi - 1971

    €8,950 - €11,635 est. (£7,529.64 - £9,788.53 est.) €8,950 - €11,635 est. (£7,529.64 - £9,788.53 est.)
    Online Auction
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    Catawiki Auctions
  • 1968 Fiat 500 110F Berlina

    £8,995 £8,995

    The Fiat 500's are hugely popular; launched back in 1957 and were in production until 1975. The 500 is considered as one of the first city cars and proved to be an enormously practical and popular vehicle throughout Europe and today have an incredibly strong following. This stunning Fiat 500 110F Berlina came to the UK from Italy several years ago and comes with a well documented original Italian logbook/service book. The Fiat is fully UK registered with V5, current MOT and will be serviced, prepared and re-tested once sold. FND 325F has covered very little mileage since been in the UK but has attended some events to include Fleur-De-Lys C.V.S 2014 Thornes Park gathering. The Fiat drives well, is in strong mechanical condition with a lovely smooth engine and slick gearbox. It is clear the car has been fully re-painted in recent years and holds a lovely deep paint finish with straight panels. Chrome work is of a very high standard and the interior has been fully re-trimmed at some stage. The engine bay and compartment are clean, smart and well presented. On the whole this is a smart, usable Fiat 500 that does not require any work in order to simply use and enjoy.

    • Year: 1968
    For sale
  • Fiat 500 Topolino 0,6 Coupé

    €20,200(£16,994.26) €20,200(£16,994.26)

    Fiat 500 Topolino 0,6 Coupé Equipment: Ekstrem fin restaureret sjælden udbudt til salg flot farve kombination ring for info

    • Year: 1938
    For sale
  • Fiat 500 L Saloon 1972


    *** 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(£10,894.84) €12,950(£10,894.84)

    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(£10,053.54) €11,950(£10,053.54)

    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
  • 1974 Fiat 500R

    £6,495 £6,495

    Black with red interior, this late production 500R (600cc) with low kilometres (35,506kms) is in lovely original condition. Fully serviced by Middle Barton Garage with 12 months MOT.

    • Year: 1974
    For sale
  • Fiat 500 D

    £12,495 £12,495

    Opening the rear lid you'll find the engine bay in very good, clean order. The two-cylinder 499.5cc unit, which produces 22hp, runs well and idles nicely up to temperature. Brilliant in its simplicity the 500 certainly provides a gratifying driving experience.

    • Year: 1965
    • Mileage: 39241 mi
    For sale
  • 1959 Fiat 500 Jolly


    This restored Fiat 500 Jolly is one of 100 likely survivors in existence. It is finished in Red, with wicker seats and a red and white surrey top. The Jolly is powered by a 500cc, 2 cylinder engine with 4 speed manual transmission, and is ready to accommodate up to 4 persons. With its body designed by famed coach builder Ghia, the Jolly stands as a highly unique and collectible micro car that was often used in exclusive beach resort settings. Numerous celebrities and other public figures have owned these micro cars, further adding to their uniqueness. This example has benefitted from a spectacular restoration by Fiat professionals, with strict attention paid to detail, so as to ensure the highest of quality. Without a doubt, the Jolly presented here is sure to bring smiles from all around, and is a perfectly unique choice to add to your collection.

    • Year: 1959
    • Mileage: 125 mi
    For sale
  • 1957 Fiat 500 Jolly


    This Turquoise Blue and White Jolly has been previously restored by the professionals at Classic Showcase, and is presented extremely well today. The car has been recently serviced, and is very well detailed throughout - from the engine bay to the trunk placed at the front of the car, the Jolly is full of charm and character where it counts. Moving this “beach cruiser” down the road is the 479-cid air-cooled, two-cylinder engine. Backing the engine is a floor-shift, four-speed manual transmission. The Fiat is complete with wicker seating, matching Turquoise Blue & White Surrey top, seat belts, spare tire, body-color steel wheels, polished wheel covers and thin whitewall tires. This Fiat Jolly is a unique choice to add to one's collection, or may be driven and enjoyed at your favorite resort or coastal area.

    • Year: 1957
    • Mileage: 37644 mi
    For sale
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