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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
3795 14900 GBP
  • Fiat - 500 Francis Lombardi - NO RESERVE - 1972

    €2,092 - €2,719.60 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €2,092 - €2,719.60 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €2,092 - €2,719.60 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €2,092 - €2,719.60 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Catawiki Auctions
  • Fiat - 500 F - 1969

    €4,501 - €5,851.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €4,501 - €5,851.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €4,501 - €5,851.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €4,501 - €5,851.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat - 500 L - 1969

    €6,001 - €7,801.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €6,001 - €7,801.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €6,001 - €7,801.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €6,001 - €7,801.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat - 500F - 1972

    €6,951 - €9,036.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €6,951 - €9,036.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €6,951 - €9,036.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €6,951 - €9,036.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • Fiat - 500 L - 1971

    €4,936 - €6,416.80 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €4,936 - €6,416.80 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €4,936 - €6,416.80 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €4,936 - €6,416.80 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • FIAT 500 1.2 Pop Start-Stop - Very Low Mileage

    £3,795 £3,795

    2011/61 Fiat 500 1.2 Pop (S/S), Only 38,000 Miles, 3 Door Hatchback, Finished in Bianca White, 1 Previous Owner, Fiat 500 Wallet, Fiat 500 Manuals, 2 Keys, MOT, Start/Stop Technology, Daytime Running Lights, City Mode, Electric Front Windows, Colour Coded Dash Trim, CD Player, Electric Door Mirrors, Black Door Mirrors, Chrome Door Handles, Manual Climate Control, A Lovely well kept example of the iconic Fiat 500 with very low mileage, tax is only GBP 30 per year and it is very economical on fuel. Must be seen to be appreciated. HPI Clear / Part Exchanges Welcome / Nationwide Delivery Available. 01494 240099 / 07378 835298, 2 owners, GBP 3,795 p/x welcome

    • Mileage: 38000 mi
    For sale
    £3,795 £3,795
  • Fiat 500

    €12,900(£0) €12,900(£0)

    VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: Mechanics, body and interiors completely restored. The engine covered only 59 kms from restoration. First italian registration and ready to use. TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE We do not have the possibility to constantly update our prices and ads so it is possible that the selling price displayed may be changed. It is the burden of the buyer to verify all information, datas and inspect the vehicle before proceeding to purchase. We are able to supply any kind of documentation upon request. For further information we are at your disposal please contact us at +39 030/2411531 , mail to info@luzzago.com Visit our webpage www.luzzago.com TIPS We are able to delivery your purchase straight to you. Contact us for quote to your address. (also shipping too EU and Extra EU community)

    • Year: 1967
    • Mileage: 60 mi
    • Engine size: 0.5
    For sale
    €12,900(£0) €12,900(£0)
  • Fiat 500

    €12,900(£0) €12,900(£0)

    VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: Mechanics, body and interiors completely restored. The engine covered only 59 kms from restoration. First italian registration and ready to use. TERMS AND CONDITIONs OF SALE We do not have the possibility to constantly update our prices and ads so it is possible that the selling price displayed may be changed. It is the burden of the buyer to verify all information, datas and inspect the vehicle before proceeding to purchase. We are able to supply any kind of documentation upon request. For further information we are at your disposal please contact us at +39 030/2411531 , mail to info@luzzago.com Visit our webpage www.luzzago.com TIPS We are able to delivery your purchase straight to you. Contact us for quote to your address. (also shipping too EU and Extra EU community)

    • Year: 1967
    • Mileage: 37 mi
    • Engine size: 0.5
    For sale
    €12,900(£0) €12,900(£0)
  • Fiat 500

    €14,900(£0) €14,900(£0)

    VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: Very beautiful Topolino 500 C Trasformabile with first italian registration and delivery in 1962. The car was subjected to a radical restoration in 2003 abiding by the original Fiat configuration. It additionally comes with ASI gold certificate and omologation released in 2006. TERMS AND CONDITIONs OF SALE We do not have the possibility to constantly update our prices and ads so it is possible that the selling price displayed may be changed. It is the burden of the buyer to verify all information, datas and inspect the vehicle before proceeding to purchase. We are able to supply any kind of documentation upon request. For further information we are at your disposal please contact us at +39 030/2411531 , mail to info@luzzago.com Visit our webpage www.luzzago.com TIPS We are able to delivery your purchase straight to you. Contact us for quote to your address. (also shipping too EU and Extra EU community)

    • Year: 1953
    • Engine size: 0.5
    For sale
    €14,900(£0) €14,900(£0)
  • Fiat 500

    €14,900(£0) €14,900(£0)

    VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: Car in excellent conditions, first italian registration and delivery in Milano in 1953, now it comes with second registration in Torino in 1960 due to city change. Entire restoration of the body and chassis, full refurbishment of the mechanics groups. Supplied with the following documents: - original maintainance book -chromed luggage rack - pictures of the restoration works - ASI certificate TERMS AND CONDITIONs OF SALE We do not have the possibility to constantly update our prices and ads so it is possible that the selling price displayed may be changed. It is the burden of the buyer to verify all information, datas and inspect the vehicle before proceeding to purchase. We are able to supply any kind of documentation upon request. For further information we are at your disposal please contact us at +39 030/2411531 , mail to info@luzzago.com Visit our webpage www.luzzago.com TIPS We are able to delivery your purchase straight to you. Contact us for quote to your address. (also shipping too EU and Extra EU community)

    • Year: 1953
    • Engine size: 0.5
    For sale
    €14,900(£0) €14,900(£0)