17 May 1999
1954 FIAT 500C BELVEDERE
Chassis no. 475 781
Dark green with fawn and beige interior.
Engine: Four cylinders in line, 570cc, 16.5bhp at 4,400rpm; overhead valves, Gearbox: manual four-speed; Suspension: independent front by wishbones with transverse half elliptic leaf spring, live rear axle with quarter elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel hydraulically operated. Left hand drive.
Steeped in character, lively, great fun to drive, the tiny Fiat 500 Topolino was a familiar sight across Europe for well over twenty years after its launch in 1934. It could be glimpsed for a generation after that in Italy's ancient cities, snugly parked in a corner of a byway too tortuous for any larger automobile. The idea of a practical, modern economy car had been mooted by Fiat Chairman, Seniore Giovanni Agnelli in 1933, who had invited engineers from all divisions of the company to participate in a competition to create a practical new type of economy model. In the following year an idea by the promising Dante Giacosa was chosen for production. With input from Fiat's aviation division it was a neat compound of well-tried and forward looking features, the engineering fully thought-through, all wrapped up in a windcheating bodyshell. The Fiat 500 opened up a new market and sold briskly. The adaptable Giardiniera estate variant appeared in 1948. Styling was updated, a heater option was offered. In 1951 the Belvedere estate arrived, its side-hinged tailgate and fold-flat rear seat making the little car into an unexpectedly capacious load-carrier with well shaped front bucket seats and airy driving assured by the folding fabric roof.
This Belvedere provides an opportunity for a collector to acquire a now rare model of this economy car in exemplary order, displaying much careful attention to detail in such matters as the flooring, interior trim and engine bay presentation. The rewarding Fiat 500C is one of those small cars that has achieved cult status. The station wagon versions are eagerly sought but rarely seen in such fine condition as this example. The car is Swiss registered.
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