Stored For 49 Years: 1958 Fiat 500

500

While there’s not a lot of information about this little Fiat, I was intrigued by the idea that the car had been stored indoors for 49 years. And then I looked at the pictures. For a car that was only on the road for seven years, there sure was a lot of rust! Then I saw the location: Paramus, New Jersey. Home of road salt. So either the indoors wasn’t very weathertight, or the car got a lot of winter driving in before it was taken off the road. It’s being sold here on eBay, where bidding is at $355 with no reserve, so the seller has a realistic idea of what the rust will do to the car’s value. It does include the original jack and tools, and all the hubcaps. Needless to say, it doesn’t run. The odometer is reading 24,438 miles, and I’m guessing that may well be original miles – I can’t imagine anyone doing a lot of long-distance traveling in this tiny car. We had a 2013 500 and loved it, but do you want to tackle this old one?

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Comments

  1. Dan

    This thing has bid up to $3300 now….unreal…

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  2. RayT Member

    The photos seem to suggest that the exterior rust is confined largely to the left side. The underside photos make it seem the car might have been underwater at some point.

    And “underwater” is what the next owner will be, at least financially. Much as I love Fiat 500s — and I’d rather have one of these than a new one — I’m not masochistic enough to take on what looks like a major, major project. Too nasty to keep in its “patinated” condition, and too much of a money pit to restore….

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  3. Chris A.

    $3,300-incredible. Unless it has a Abarth DOHC stuffed in the back and is really a 1957 that ran in the last Mille Miglia. In salt areas like upstate NY and in NJ it had “A short life but a merry one”.

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  4. bcavileer

    yeeha! Go get em! Tin worm was hard at work on that old girl.
    Hope they are handy with metal.

    Just a flesh wound…

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  5. Bob

    This is one of the earliest with the bug-eye headlights, hence the high price. They are very rare nowadays. Cool car, worth restoring, especially since restoration is easy apart from all the welding.

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  6. Hotrodr56

    Believe it or not, I have a set of doors in perfect shape to fit this car. They are stored in the attic of my dad’s garage.

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    • Charles Gould

      Hey Hotrod,
      I am restoring a 1957 Nuovo 500. Are those doors still available in your Dad’s garage attic? If so, would your Dad consider donating them, or selling them for a reasonable price to help us restore this old Cinquecento? I would be happy to pay a fair price for the doors and any other parts that your Dad might still have. Please contact me at chagould@mac.com.

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  7. The Walrus

    These are clearly in line to be the next Amphicar/Isetta so there’s speculation money in the pot. Although parts aren’t prevalent, and the rust, relative to the car is copious, the fact that the car is so small means, in the big picture, it’s not that much work. The equivalent of a trunk pan and lower rear quarters in a muscle car, and rarely does one say ‘too much rust’ when that’s all the right muscle car needs when it is available. The question, of course, is where/when will another come along that is ‘this nice’… most of these were re-incarnated as Datsuns and Toyotas in the 70’s…

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  8. skloon

    $4577 was it stored in an indoor pool for a while ? maybe it is like my sister in law who freezes moldy food

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  9. Charles Gould

    Wonderful little cars, those Cinquecentos, and these early “frog eye” versions are now quite difficult to find in any condition. Fiat restorations are relatively simple and straightforward, with most of the sheet metal available for reasonable prices, and although the mechanical bits are scarce for early models, these tiny engines are relatively bulletproof and should rebuild quite easily. Hell, it is only a two cylinder!
    Also, although the driver’s side is quite rusty the rest of the car looks very nicely preserved. Must have been parked near the leaking edge of the barn.
    @Walrus. While these are not the next Isetta or Amphicar form an investment perspective, they are loads of fun to drive, and really cute, and actually have a somewhat sporty (although slow) performance factor, as the Italians make everything sporty, even their “people’s cars”. I have owned a number of Cinquecentos, and the fun/satisfaction factor is off the charts for an entry level microcar, and they are practical enough to carry four people in relative comfort at reasonable speeds, unlike an Isetta.
    Someone will have a really nice little rare “frog eye” 500 for slightly over 10K if they can do the work themselves.

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    • Blake

      Right on every count. I restored one a couple of years ago for a customer and the frog eye is the American spec version that had about 3500 (from memory) imported over three years 1957-1959. 1960 was the changeover year. The front fascia in American spec is not available, but most of the other panels are and the engine is quite easy and fun to rebuild. It was a blast to drive around my neighborhood doing shakedown runs, and the owner has a neat old car that has been in his family since 1965. I’ve answered questions from other 500 owners and will be happy to do another restoration. This one looks complete, though the rust does need to be dealt with carefully as it is a unibody car. Take a look at the one I restored on http://www.windingroadclassics.com.

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      • Vince

        Wow, car looks great would really like to own one. My Cousin has one he is restoring. If you come across one I would be happy o pay a referral fee.

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  10. joep

    clearly stored next to a wall for years.
    one side is perfectly in shape, the other side is rusty.
    Seen it before.

    A 500 with suicide doors is also in Europe very rare.
    Parts are very cheap and this 500 is easy to restore. looks like a bargain to me.
    I’ve seen (younger) 500’s in 10x more worse shape and all these cars were restored by the new owners.

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  11. Howard A Member

    I never really liked Fiats, but this thing is so darn cute, if you lived in a gated community, you could race the golf carts. These had 11-15 hp, did the 1/4 mile in 27.8 sec @ 45 mph, with a top speed of 56.( with a good tail wind) Certainly nothing for today’s roads, but for puttin’ around, it would be great.

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  12. fred

    Not as bad as it looks at first glance. That texture on the bottom of the car looks like factory undercoating, which may have saved it. Looks like the bad rust is confined to a fairly small area.

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  13. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    These don’t look like much, but Fiat put people in cars after WW2 when Italy and much of Europe was devastated and most people didn’t have 2 lire to rub together. That was mainly the decision of Gianni Agnelli, who owned the company. He could have made smaller numbers of luxury cars for the wealthy, but he chose to offer lots of people the kind of car they could actually afford to buy and use.

    I can’t help thinking about that whenever I see a vintage 500 or 600, or even the new versions out today.

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