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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
5950 60000 GBP
  • Fiat 500

    £8,195 £8,195

    Variant name:1.2 Lounge (s/s) 3dr ,Variant: 1.2 Lounge (s/s) 3dr

    • Mileage: 20773 mi
    For sale
    £8,195 £8,195
    Sturgess Motor Group -Sturgess Fiat
    0116 416 1091 View contact number
  • Fiat - 500 L - 1971

    €5,201 - €6,761.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €5,201 - €6,761.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €5,201 - €6,761.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €5,201 - €6,761.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat - 500 L - 1969

    €5,501 - €7,151.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €5,501 - €7,151.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €5,501 - €7,151.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €5,501 - €7,151.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat - 500 L - 1970

    €4,901 - €6,371.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €4,901 - €6,371.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €4,901 - €6,371.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €4,901 - €6,371.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat - 500 - 1964

    €11,500 - €14,950 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €11,500 - €14,950 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €11,500 - €14,950 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €11,500 - €14,950 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat - 500 L - 1971

    €5,501 - €7,151.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €5,501 - €7,151.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €5,501 - €7,151.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €5,501 - €7,151.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat - 500F - 1966

    €4,987 - €6,483.10 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €4,987 - €6,483.10 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €4,987 - €6,483.10 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €4,987 - €6,483.10 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat 500

    €60,000(£0) €60,000(£0)

    Just as the new Fiat 500 was inspired the original Fiat 500, one of Italy’s oldest coachbuilders Carrozzeria Castagna Milano has used a version of the original Fiat 500 favoured by the rich and famous, the Fiat 500 Jolly, to produce a modern version, the Fiat 500 Ischia. More information on: www.kucarfa.nl Price: € 60.000,-- +VAT Year: 2012

    • Year: 2018
    • Mileage: 2000 mi
    • Engine size: 0.9
    For sale
    €60,000(£0) €60,000(£0)
  • Fiat 500 White '69

    €5,950(£0) €5,950(£0)

    The Fiat 500 was produced by the Fiat company between 1957 and 1975, with limited production of the Fiat 500 K estate continuing until 1977. The car was designed by Dante Giacosa. Launched as the Nuova (new) 500 in July 1957, it was a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 3 metres long, and originally powered by an appropriately sized 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 redefined the term "small car" and is considered one of the first city cars. To meet the demands of the post-war market which called for economy cars, the Fiat 500 was rear-engined on the pattern of the Volkswagen Beetle, just like its bigger brother, the 1955 Fiat 600. Several car makers followed the now uncommon rear engine configuration at the time and were quite successful. The Neckar version manufactured in Heilbronn under a complicated deal involving NSU, was introduced in October 1961. Upper Austria the firm of Steyr-Puch also produced cars based, by agreement, on the Fiat 500. Despite its diminutive size, the 500 proved to be an enormously practical and popular vehicle throughout Europe. Besides the two-door coupé, it was also available as the "Giardiniera", wheelbase lengthened by 10 cm (

    • Year: 1969
    For sale
    €5,950(£0) €5,950(£0)
  • Fiat 500 Giardiniera White '66

    €7,250(£0) €7,250(£0)

    Lowered price from €9.950 -> €7.250! The Fiat 500 (Italian: cinquecento, Italian pronunciation: [ˌtʃiŋkweˈtʃɛnto]) is a car produced by the Fiat company of Italy between 1957 and 1975, with limited production of the Fiat 500 K estate continuing until 1977. The car was designed by Dante Giacosa. Launched as the Nuova (new) 500 in July 1957, it was a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 3 metres (~10 feet) long, and originally powered by an appropriately sized 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 redefined the term "small car" and is considered one of the first city cars. Despite its diminutive size, the 500 proved to be an enormously practical and popular vehicle throughout Europe. Besides the two-door coupé, it was also available as the "Giardiniera" station wagon; this variant featured the standard engine laid on its side, the wheelbase lengthened by 10 cm (4 in) to provide a more convenient rear seat, a full-length sunroof, and larger brakes from the Fiat 600. Production of the 500 ended in 1975, although its replacement, the Fiat 126, was launched two years earlier. The 126 was never as popular as its predecessor in Italy, but was enormously popular in the for

    • Year: 1966
    For sale
    €7,250(£0) €7,250(£0)
  • Fiat 500 L 1971

    €12,950(£0) €12,950(£0)

    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
    €12,950(£0) €12,950(£0)
  • 1959 Fiat 500 Jolly

    POA POA

    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
    POA POA
  • 1957 Fiat 500 Jolly

    POA POA

    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
    POA POA