1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903

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Lot 466
1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon
Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903
Sold for US$ 35,100 inc. premium

Photo credit Simon Clay

Lot Details
1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903 1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon  Chassis no. 500c-268428 Engine no. 500B-272903
1951 FIAT 500C Giardineira Station Wagon
Chassis no. 500c-268428
Engine no. 500B-272903
Italy's most popular car from 1937 to '48, the Fiat 500 Topolino became even more so in 1949. As introduced in 1937 it was a two-passenger coupe with a 569 cc four-cylinder engine and four-speed gearbox. It soon took the nickname Topolino, literally "little mouse" but soon interpreted as Mickey Mouse, for the mouse ear-like headlamps on its front fenders. The two-main-bearing engine developed but 13 bhp, but four speeds forward and light weight conspired to give it adequate performance. The front wheels had transverse leaf spring independent suspension, the rear sprung quarter elliptics with torque arms. Fuel supply was by gravity from a firewall-mounted tank. Priced at the equivalent of $100, it was quite a bargain.

A four-seat cabriolet was added in 1938, and in 1948 came a new model, the 500B, with overhead valves and improvements to the brakes, suspension and electrical system. For 1949, the Topolino was given a dramatic facelift, as the 500C. A wider horizontal grille looked more up-to-date, and the tail of the coupe and cabriolet was lengthened. A new model was the Giardiniera, literally "gardener," a compact little station wagon. It was built by Fiat's in-house Carrozzerie Speciali operation, which, as the name implied, was a special coachwork division. Some of these had real wood on the exterior, others had stamped metal panels that could be painted in contrasting colors or treated in the manner of faux timber.

The 500C remained in production through 1954, to be replaced soon afterwards by the all-new unitary 600. By the time 500 production ceased, more than 375,000 of the "C" model had been built, which, when added to the 122,000 basic and "B" models, signaled nearly half a million "little mice."

While on one of their hunts for cars in Italy, the owners were able to find the Giardineira that we offer here. Correctly badged as a Carrozerie Speciali, it was one of the very first that the company supplied with metallic paint as an option and had had the period modification of a 2 carburetor set up.

In terms of history, the Fiat is fortunate to retain copies of an old Italian log book which does not refer to its first decade of use, but confirms that by 1963 the car was registered in Pistoia, and that it was kept on the road in that region through the 1960s. It appears that the owner then and when acquired for the collection in 1998 was an Enrico Benito.

Restored to a good standard, though retaining originality throughout, this is an attractive and unusual example of its model. Much loved within the collection, this car has frequently been used for transferring the family from place to place locally, while the collector brothers consider the design as a true milestone for the industry as an early multipurpose 'people carrier'.

Always equally popular when publicly exhibited it was shown here at the Greenwich Concours in 2000.
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