Because the air-cooled rear-engined FIAT 500's were now well established, the 'Nuova' (New) title was dropped in 1960. In May 1960, FIAT reintroduced the 'Giardiniera' (Gardener) name that had been coined for the wooden bodied FIAT 500B Topolino Station Wagon in 1948.
The new version was more van-like in appearance and had an all metal body. The integrated body/chassis assembly used on the rear engined 500's allowed an increase in the wheelbase with only minor modifications to cables and pipework. Many of the components of the saloons were used, but the engine, brakes and rear suspension were unique to the 'Giardiniera'. Under the front bonnet the compact layout was untouched and would still only allow a minimal amount of 'soft' luggage to be squeezed in. Despite this, a heating/demisting system and window washers were fitted. Front opening 'suicide' doors were retained and these would be fitted for the entire duration of the Giardiniera's production life. A single, side hinged rear door opened onto a cargo platform that was so low that it was hard to believe that an engine was hidden underneath. But the standard 499.5cc engine had been cleverly adapted to lie on its side and was accessible beneath a flat hinged lift-up section of the rear floor. Unlike the saloon, with its narrow waistline ventilation grille across the back and two large grilles in the engine cover, the Giardiniera had a ventilation grille high up on the rear quarter panel on each side. These drew cooling air through wide flattened passages to the engine cowling via a very large fan mounted on the side of the engine. The cargo area could be extended to give a length of 1180mm (3'10.5") by folding the one piece rear seat down against the backs of the separate front seats, although it didn't fold completely flat. For longer, narrower loads, the front passenger seat could also be folded down. The roof of the Giardiniera was quite long and a folding top could be opened up far enough to expose the rear seats, but leaving a reasonable sized covered area behind them. As with the normal saloon, rear seat passengers had to fold down the appropriate front seat to gain access. The two doors had swivelling quarter lights and wind down windows and the large side windows in the sides of the body had one sliding window and one fixed window as on previous Station Wagons. A few panel vans were produced without the side windows. The window in the single rear door was fixed.
The Giardiniera was produced alongside the FIAT 500D until the Spring of 1968, when production was transfered to the FIAT SpA (Sezione Autobianchi) factory in Desio that FIAT had become sole owner of in 1963. At that time, the FIAT badge was replaced by the Desio badge and the car became known as the Autobianchi 'Giardiniera' until production ceased in 1977.
Specifications: FIAT/Autobianchi 500 'Giardiniera' Station Wagon.
Engine: Rear mounted, 2 horizontal in-line cylinders with overhead valve layout, air-cooled four-stroke of 499.5cc giving 17.5 bhp at 4,600 rpm.
Engine Lubrication: Pressure
Maximum Speed: 95 kph (59 mph)
Fuel Consumption: 5.2 litres per 100 km (54 mpg)
Gears: 4 speeds forward with 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears in constant mesh, plus reverse.
Final Drive Ratio: 5.125 to 1.
Brakes: Foot operated, manually adjusted hydraulic drum brakes to all four wheels with hand operated mechanical brake to rear wheels.
Note! the brakes of the 'Giardiniera' are larger than those used on the saloons.
Suspension: Front: Independent with transverse lower leaf spring and wishbones.
Rear: Independent with semi-trailing arms and large coil springs.
Note! Although the rear suspension layout is the same as the saloons, the trailing arms and coil springs are stronger to accomodate the weight of the longer body and extra cargo loads.
Telescopic shock absorbers to all four wheels, the rear ones being stronger than those fitted on the rear of the saloons.
12 Volt electrical system.
Length: 3185mm (10'5.375")
Width: 1323mm (4'4"0
Height: 1354mm (4'5.375")
Source: Reg J. Prosser