Fiat 500L 'Gumball Edition' / 1972
The Fiat 500 ( Italian: Cinquecento) was a city car produced by the Italian manufacturer Fiat between 1957 and 1975. Launched as the Nuova (new) 500 in July 1957, it was a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 2,97 metres long, and originally powered by an appropriately sized 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 redefined the term 'small car' and is considered one of the first city cars.
To meet the demands of the post-war market which called for economy cars, in 1949 a front engine Fiat 500 was released. It had a 2-door coupe body with sun-roof, which was later complemented by an Estate (Station Wagon) version. Both continued until 1954 when they were replaced by an all new, lighter car. The new car had a rear-mounted engine, on the pattern of the Volkswagen Beetle, just like its bigger brother the 1955 Fiat 600. Several car makers followed the now uncommon rear engine configuration at the time and were quite successful. The Neckar version of the 500 was manufactured in Heilbronn under a complicated deal involving NSU, and was introduced in October 1961. Steyr-Puch produced cars based on the Fiat 500 under license in Upper Austria.
Despite its diminutive size, the 500 proved to be an enormously practical and popular vehicle throughout Europe. Besides the two-door coupé, it was also available as the 'Giardiniera' station wagon; this variant featured the standard engine laid on its side, the wheelbase lengthened by 10 cm to provide a more convenient rear seat, a full-length sunroof, and larger brakes from the Fiat 600.
Production of the 500 ended in 1975, although its replacement, the Fiat 126, was launched two years earlier. The 126 was never as popular as its predecessor in Italy, but was enormously popular in the former Eastern Bloc countries, where it is famed for its mechanical durability and high fuel economy. The Fiat 500 has a Cx (aerodynamic resistance coefficient) of 0,38, a very good performance for its time.
The 500L was the penultimate model. The main change for the L is a much modernized interior ( including a renewed dashboard ) which brought the Fiat 500 up to date. Greater comfort and style were provided in this new model for the new generation.
The car we sell
This Fiat is really not that much different than any other. It has been restored about 12 years ago, but is far from concours. The interior should get some TLC, as should the engine. It's cute, it runs and will take you anywhere you want to go. As long as you're not in a hurry.
As long as you're not in a hurry. That's why this Fiat might have seemed like a bad choice of a car to participate in the infamous Gumball 3000 Rally with. But then again: Gumball is all about the odd and crazy ! And to be honest: we only used it at the starting grid and changed cars after 10 km…
That was in 2004, but this car is a legend and still recognised by much of the true Gumball aficionados !