1938 FIAT 500 TOPOLINO
Registration No. BJB 542
Chassis No. 500-043591
Engine No. 043940
Claret with black wings and dark red interior.
Engine: four cylinder, 570cc; Gearbox: four speed and reverse; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic; Suspension: independent front by transverse leaf spring, rear, quarter-elliptic leaf springs. Right hand drive.
The legendary Fiat 500 Topolino was introduced in late 1936 and remained in production with little change until 1948. The secret of this success was the insistence by Fessia, the designer, on creating a true big car in miniature. It incorporated such then advanced features as a water-cooled four cylinder engine, twelve volt electrical system, independent front suspension, four-speed gearbox with synchromesh on third and fourth gears, and superb hydraulic brakes. This was all housed in an attractive two-seat, roll-top convertible body. The aesthetics were charming and the 'Topolino' is generally regarded as one of the milestones in automotive history, which paved the way for a series of small Fiats right up until the present day, with their current Cinquecento.
With its introduction the 'baby' car entered a new and more sophisticated phase. Among racing drivers who favoured the 500 in the thirties were 'B. Bira', Charles Brackenbury, Earl Howe, Dick Seaman and Rob Walker. In 1938 and 1939 the Topolino sold 434 units in the United States, making it the best-selling foreign imported car!
BJB 542 being one of the second series of Fiat 500s, built in 1938. The car has been carefully 'professionally' restored by its current owner, with an eye both on originality and practicality. Throughout restoration, the owner was fortunate to acquire a great many brand new and original Fiat spare parts ensuring accuracy of detail fittings, whilst the quality of the body restoration was carried out without limitation of cost. The interior trim is both sympathetic to the age of the car, but also of a quality not often replicated on modest restorations. Sensible concessions to modern use include an S.U. carburettor which provides reliable starting - not a feature of the original Solex installation, while a rear-mounted petrol tank with S.U. fuel pump eliminates the possible risks inherent in an under-bonnet gravity fed petrol supply. The direction flashers, rear reflectors and second tail/stop lamp have been fitted without cutting unsightly holes in the wings, and can easily be detached should a true 'period' appearance be required.
The result of the vendor's conscientious approach is an exceptionally pleasing and usable example, which since its total rebuild of the engine only some 300 miles have been covered on the road. The owner now wishes to sell owing to his advancing age and impending downsizing of garage space. A file with the car includes a buff log book, photographs of the bodywork restoration, a workshop manual and vehicle instruction book. The car has a current MOT.