Neat little microcar ready to enjoy. Nice paint and interior, roll-back sunroof, radial tires. Engine rebuilt several years ago and runs and drives very well. Fun all out of proportion to its size and a celebrity everywhere it goes!
Introduced in 1957 and built for nearly two decades, the 500 name comes from the car’s original 479 cc two-cylinder air-cooled engine, which, by the time this 1965 500F was built, had increased to a whopping 499 cc. So it comes by the name honestly. This bright red Fiat really is the one you want to own: bigger engine and sunroof combined with the traditional early interior that makes it so charming to own. This car has been restored as needed throughout its life, wearing a coat of bright red paint that’s perhaps 15 years old, a freshened interior that includes a modern wood-rimmed steering wheel and seat belts, and a rebuilt engine that’s as gutsy as ever. The car’s friendly good looks are a huge part of its appeal, and you’ll quickly find that everyone wants to be your friend when you’re motoring along in one of these charming little machines. Simplicity is the word, but there’s plenty of chrome to make it look dressed up, and all the brightwork is in fine condition with no notable issues. It does have a ‘500L’ badge from a later model, but that’s the lone deviation from stock.
Inside, it’s basic but the Italians have a way of making even basic seem stylish. Pleated door panels simple bucket seats are obviously part of the bargain price, but you get a very attractive single speedometer with built-in warning lights and switches arrayed around its perimeter. The speedometer is not operational, so actual mileage is unknown, but it’s probably an easy fix. The four-speed shifter is on the floor just ahead of the levers for the starter (yep) and the choke, as well as the hand brake. No radio, no heater (Italy is typically a warm-weather country), just a convenient little storage bin under the dash. The folding fabric sunroof is a 500 trademark and works rather well, and includes a neatly fitted headliner inside that makes the interior feel finished. The forward “trunk” offers modest storage space, with most of the room commandeered by the gas tank and front suspension, but if you have a few packages, they’ll fit up there just fine.
By 1965, the 500’s engine was actually pretty close to the advertised 500: 499 cc of air-cooled thunder. With 17 advertised horsepower, it’s a gutsy little engine that asks for very little—much like it’s German competitor, the Beetle. There’s a distinctive soundtrack that’s as much motorcycle as automobile, but it would be a mistake to think this is a toy instead of a real automobile. It zips around town without much drama and you might remember some of the ABARTH variants that were fairly formidable machines on the track. This one runs well and is nicely sorted, so it’s ready to enjoy, and once you figure out the typical Italian quirks, it’s a fun, reliable runner. All the factory hardware is still in place, from the air filter to the muffler, and you’d be surprised how easy parts are to find for these cars so maintenance in the future will be a snap.
This little guy is too small to fit on our lift, but there are no surprises underneath: stamped sheetmetal floors in good condition, a transverse leaf spring front suspension, and a somewhat sophisticated rear trailing arm suspension that largely eliminates the usual swing axle antics that [wrongly] got the Corvair in so much trouble. It’s solid and tidy, but not detailed for show, which only means you can look forward to driving it as intended. Steering is light and highly communicative, brakes are effective, and from behind the wheel you’ll forget that this is basic transportation—that’s the Italian sensibility for you. Simple stamped steel wheels are the right look and they carry right-sized 135/80/12 radials that really improve ride and handling.
Sometimes less is more and the charming simplicity of this car will quickly win you over. Add in the very real appeal of microcars in the hobby and the eminently practical 500 becomes an easy choice. If you’re looking for a show-stopper, well, there aren’t many vehicles better suited to the task than this—everyone loves its cheerful little face. Call today!
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