Lot 262: Fiat 500 'Economica' Saloon
Replacement for FIAT's much-loved 500 'Topolino', the Nuova 500 debuted in 1957. A radical departure from its predecessor's essentially pre-war design, FIAT's new baby featured unitary construction, an opening fabric roof and all-independent suspension while carrying its engine at the rear. The 479cc power unit was an air-cooled overhead-valve twin and the gearbox a four-speeder. The austerity of the basic 500 - it was known as the 'Economica' - was not well received, prompting the swift introduction of a revised and better equipped model, which first appeared towards the end of 1957 at the Turin Show. Refinements incorporated in this less Spartan version included wind-down windows, an upholstered rear seat, column-mounted switchgear stalks and hubcaps. Introduced in 1960, the successor 500D used the 499.5cc engine of the 500 Sport in de-tuned form. In 1965 it was superseded by the 500F, the latter's altered bodywork incorporating front-hinged doors and a shortened sunroof while mechanical improvements included a strengthened transmission. An immense success for FIAT, almost 3,000,000 of these adorable little cars had been sold when production ceased in 1975. The 500 remains as popular today as it ever was, and recently was voted 'Sexiest Car' by the readers of Top Gear magazine. But of all the many versions, it is the earliest 'Economica' model that remains the rarest and most desirable. This historically very significant example dates from July 1957, the very first month of production, and features the full-length sunroof incorporating the rear screen, no rear seats, fixed side windows (even sliding windows were considered too expensive!) and numerous other distinctive details. Professionally restored in its native Italy in 2009, the car is described as in generally good condition and offered with Italian Estratto Cronologico.
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