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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 0,5 L

    €10,800(£9,653.04) €10,800(£9,653.04)

    Fiat 500 0,5 L Equipment: Bemærk bilen står i Odense Abarth Replica restaureret og med mange nye dele en bil som skal opleves. Ring for info

    • Year: 1967
    For sale
    €10,800(£9,653.04) €10,800(£9,653.04)
    CC Cars
  • Fiat 500

    €60,000(£53,628) €60,000(£53,628)

    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(£53,628) €60,000(£53,628)
  • Fiat 500 D Trasformabile

    POA POA

    - Delightful example restored in 2013 by Signature Classics - Celeste Crociera with cream interior, MoT to September 2018 - 600cc engine, synchromesh gearbox, converted to righthand drive Debuting in 1957, the Nuova 500 featured unitary construction and all-independent suspension. Introduced in 1960, the rare 500 D Trasformabile offered a full length folding roof and more performance from a detuned version of the Sport model's powerplant. Now a true motoring icon, the 500 is recognised as a landmark design in the history of motoring. This charming righthand drive conversion was sourced in Italy and professionally restored in 2012 by Signature Automobiles of Beckenham as a 40th birthday gift for the vendor's wife. Finished in Celeste Crociera with cream interior, an upgraded 600cc engine gives good performance although since completion of the works the car has been used sparingly and kept in a carcoon. A period looking suitcase complete with labels of 1960s icons adorns the boot. The history file includes a CD of images and photographs of the restoration together with copies of the original Italian title documents. Offered with MoT to September 2018 and Swansea V5C, this lovely litt

    • Year: 1965
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Fiat 500

    £17,000 £17,000

    BETTER EQUIPPED THAN MANY CARS TWICE ITS SIZE, THE FIAT 500 C SOON BECAME NICKNAMED ‘TOPOLINO’. THE NAME “TOPOLINO” TRANSLATES LITERALLY AS “LITTLE MOUSE” IN ITALIAN, BUT IS ALSO THE ITALIAN NAME FOR MICKEY MOUSE. THE 500C WAS AVAILABLE AS A TWO-DOOR COUPE AS WELL AS A COUPE WITH A FULL SUNROOF CALLED THE ‘CABRIOLET’ AND A THREE-DOOR STATION WAGON. THE FIRST WAGON, A 500B, WAS CALLED THE ‘GIARDINIERA’ AND WAS A TRADITIONAL WOODIE. IN 1951, IT WAS JOINED BY THE ALL-STEEL BELVEDERE. THE TOPOLINO HAS AN INDEPENDENT FRONT SUSPENSION, FOUR-SPEED TRANSMISSION WITH 3RD AND 4TH GEAR SYNCHROMESH AND HYDRAULIC BRAKES. TOP SPEED WAS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF 56 MPH. THIS TOPILINO BELVEDERE HAS A WONDERFUL STORY TO ITS NAME, 10 YEARS AGO ALBERTO VALSTRONA HAD JUST CELEBRATED HIS 75TH BIRTHDAY AND WANTED TO WORK AT A PROJECT WHICH PROVES HIS TECHNICAL SKILLS. WITH FANTASTIC MEMORIES DRIVING AROUND THE NEARBY LAKE D’ORTA IN A FIAT TOPILINO HE OWNED MANY YEARS PREVIOUS, HIS SEARCH BEGAN TO FIND A SUITABLE CAR TO RESTORE. AFTER REJECTING SEVERAL, ALBERTO SOON FOUND THIS 1954 EXAMPLE, THE FIAT WAS SOLID, COMPLETE AND VERY ORIGINAL… IT WAS THE PERFECT STARTING POINT. THE PICTURES OF THE UNDER CARRIAGE SHOW THE RESTORER GAVE ALL DETAILS EXTRAORDINARY ATTENTION. AFTER MORE THAN TWO YEARS, THE CAR WAS READY AND ALBERTO WAS ABLE TO ENJOY THE ROADS OF LAKE D’ORTA ONCE MORE. HAVING RECEIVED A FULL BODY OFF RESTORATION, THE FILE CONTAINS NUMEROUS PHOTOS OF THE WHOLE RESTORATION PROCESS. THE 569CC, FOUR-CYLINDER, SIDE VALVE MOTOR PRODUCED A MODEST 13BHP BUT AS THE TOPOLINO WEIGHED LITTLE MORE THAN HALF A TON IT COULD NEVERTHELESS MANAGE A RESPECTABLE 50MPH-PLUS UNDER FAVOURABLE CONDITIONS. FOR MOST BUYERS THOUGH, THE (UP-TO-50MPG) FUEL CONSUMPTION WOULD HAVE BEEN THE MAJOR ATTRACTION. OUR BEAUTIFUL LITTLE FIAT IS FINISHED IN A FABULOUS COMBINATION OF TWO-TONE GREY WITH BROWN LEATHER SEATS. IT IS AN ENJOYABLE DAILY DRIVER THAT WORKS ON THE BUTTON, HAVING ONLY COMPLETED 1,560 MILES SINCE RESTORATION. THE FEELING WHILE DRIVING IS MAYBE ONLY UNDERSTOOD BY A TRUE ENTHUSIAST. DESPITE ITS SMALL SIZE AND LOW POWER THE TOPOLINO GIVES A FEELING OF FREEDOM, WHICH IS FURTHER ENHANCED BY THE FULL OPEN ROOF. PERFECT FOR THE LONG SUMMER, THIS IS A WONDERFUL CAR TO BE AROUND AND IS SURE TO ATTRACT LOTS OF ADMIRING ATTENTION. FOR THE FANS OF THE FAMOUS MILLE MIGLIA: THE CAR IS ELIGIBLE FOR THIS GREAT ITALIAN EVENT AND THE CHEAPEST POSSIBILITY TO TAKE PART!

    • Year: 1954
    • Mileage: 1560 mi
    • Engine size: 0.5
    For sale
    £17,000 £17,000
  • Fiat 500 White '69

    €5,950(£5,318.11) €5,950(£5,318.11)

    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(£5,318.11) €5,950(£5,318.11)
  • 1974 Fiat 500 110F - 2600 miles from new

    £14,995 £14,995

    We are delighted to offer this ultra-low mileage cult classic Fiat 500 onto the market. Over recent years, the Fiat 500 has grown into a true icon and top class examples are becoming increasingly hard to find. This exceptional car has only covered an astonishing 4200 kilometres from new, just 2600 miles and is one of the last produced with a very unique history. The car was first registered on the 4th June 1974 in Bologna, Central Italy. The car was bought as a gift from husband to elderly wife and during the first three months of ownership the Fiat did not leave the garage. The couple's niece visited from Turin and saw the car for the first time, she fell in love with the little car and it was given to her as a gift. The niece drove the car home to Turin in Northern Italy and the Fiat had covered its first 340 kilometres. From 1974 to 1983 the Fiat covered just 3500 kilometres and was used to take her son to school, just half a mile from the family home. On summer days they would walk, other days take the Fiat. Unfortunately the owner became unwell in 1983 and health issues prevented her from driving. She did not want to sell the Fiat and persuaded her husband to keep the car taxe

    • Year: 1974
    • Mileage: 2600 mi
    For sale
    £14,995 £14,995
  • Fiat 500 L Abarth

    £14,450 £14,450

    A more richly trimmed and better-appointed version of the standard 500 F named the 500L (or Lusso), was launched in 1968 and remained on sale till 1972. Perhaps the most obvious new feature of the Lusso were tubular guards protecting the front bumper and corners of the rear one making the car about 6cm longer than the previous F model. Other model-specific exterior items were a new Fiat badge at the front, redesigned hubcaps, chrome plastic moulding covering the roof drip rails, and bright trim around the windscreen and rear window. Inside was fitted with a new trapezoid instrument binnacle replacing the round one used on all other 500 models. The steering wheel was black plastic with metal spokes. The door cards—upholstered in the same pleated pattern l eatherette used on the seats—carried redesigned and relocated door handles and new door pockets. More storage space was provided in the form of a tray on the centre tunnel, which like the rest of the floor was covered in carpet rather than rubber mats. Except for radial instead of bias ply tires, from a mechanical standpoint the 500 L was identical to the coeval 500 F. The Fiat 500 L here at Hofmanns was first registered in August

    For sale
    £14,450 £14,450
  • Fiat 500 Giardiniera White '66

    €7,250(£6,480.05) €7,250(£6,480.05)

    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(£6,480.05) €7,250(£6,480.05)
  • Fiat 500 L 1971

    €12,950(£11,574.71) €12,950(£11,574.71)

    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(£11,574.71) €12,950(£11,574.71)
  • Fiat 500 L 1972

    €11,950(£10,680.91) €11,950(£10,680.91)

    SOLD / VERKAUFT / VENDU / VERKOCHT 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
    €11,950(£10,680.91) €11,950(£10,680.91)
  • Fiat 500 D

    £11,745 £11,745

    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
    £11,745 £11,745
  • 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