Abarth Conversion? Fiat 600 Project

The Fiat 600 is the slightly-larger sibling to the well-loved Fiat 500. Aside from sitting in both cars back-to-back, it’s difficult to discern how these two tiny Fiats are all that different, but the 600 is seen less frequently than the smaller 500. This one is quite needy but there’s a passionate following for these Italian city cars, and this one here on eBay could be restored as an Abarth clone or used for parts in the sympathetic restoration of another 600. 

The seller provides limited details as to the mechanical and cosmetic health of this 600, but it’s clear rust has taken its toll. From what we can see in the photos, the lower edges of the doors and fenders appear quite crusty, and there’s also concerning levels of corrosion around the windshield frame. Sadly, other areas remind me of my HiAce project where poor attempts at masking the rust have been attempted with primer and filler.

Ouch! This 600 is located in Schenectady, New York, which makes me wonder how many cold upstate winters it saw for the nose to get this bad. The university network is pretty strong in that part of the world, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this belonged to a professor or visiting student at one time. There were a few engine choices for the 600, all of them well under 100 b.h.p., but perhaps this one originally came with the 767 cc version, good for about 70 m.p.h.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Here’s where my head goes with a project like this: build it out to Abarth specs, assuming you can salvage more panels than not (I realize that’s a big “if.”) The key here is for the seller to drop the price significantly, as the current ask is simply too much. The Fiat 500 and 600 were significant cars in automotive history, and worth more than you might think in restored condition – but this one is a long way from setting any records at Barrett-Jackson. Someone tell the seller!

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  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Sadly, this is probably only good as a parts car, Jeff.

    The 600, with its water-cooled four, was the next step up from the Nuovo 500 and its air-cooled twin. Hundreds of thousands were built, including the licensed versions in countries like Poland.

    An Abarth 1000 Berline is the hot model from this range.

  2. Adam Clarke Adam T45 Staff

    I’ve just read the advert on Ebay. “History, passion, performance. Fiat delivers it all.”

    To quote Meat Loaf: “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

  3. BarnfindyCollins

    Hey Adam, no “paradise by dash board light” on this one either since it’s not running. We had one of these at the antique shop I worked at years ago along with some oddball French cars like an Ami 6 and Simca 1000 Bertone. Nobody wanted those at the time either. We did better with English cars as a side business. Back to the Fiat, I’d rather have the Alfa parked next to it. The seller seems to specialize in Italian transportation, maybe someone traded this Fiat in on a Vespa.

  4. Derek

    Given that Abarth bits aren’t exactly cheap, would the smart bet not be to stick a hotted-up 127 engine into it and make it look right? It’d go well too.

  5. Ching-A-Trailer

    Fiat 850 running gear is an easy conversion, and so are the 850’s front disc brakes but the really fast ones had twin-cam Fiat 124 motors mated to their 850 transaxles when installed into a 600. The John Rich Fiat dealership in Glendale, California built and sold quite a number of them.

  6. Doug

    A friend had one of these in high school – to replace the Renault Dauphine he barrel rolled at 30-35 mph……. He managed to do the same to the Fiat a few months later ! He didn’t learn that with a swing axle car , when it starts to oversteer, the WORST thing you can do is abruptly lift your foot off the gas pedal, which will cause the rear of the car to raise up and the now higher center of gravity will help the rear wheel to dig in and “axle-jack” , flipping the car ala Ralph Nader…. The Renault & the Fiat were actually worse than the Corvair due to their shorter wheelbase and higher center of gravity. Caveat Emptor !

    • Ching-A-Trailer

      Easy to do with a Simca 1000 too!!

  7. Bill Owens BillO Staff

    My brother-in-law had two of these, a red and yellow one. His intentions were to restore one of them, which belonged to a friend who had died. He towed them to our farm about 1975 and put them under a shelter. Just before my mom died in 1989, he and my sister bought the farm from her. They sold the farm in 2003 and one of them was still there in a pasture. He never got around to restoring them.

  8. MichaelKnight1982

    this small car was and it is still popular in argentina you can’t drive around without seeing one of this small fiats they are very fast due to it’s light weight and rear engine

  9. bog

    That’s just sad. I bought a ’57 500, also white, in ’67 for all of $125.00 ! I needed a city car in Germany, as premium gas for my ’67 GTA Fairlane was “killing” me. Ended up selling it to the loader on my tank when we were restricted to one car only, running or not. Loved that Fiat…He had it painted Italian Racing Red. What a hoot !

  10. juan

    They were made in Argentina (I´m from here) since 1963 or 64 (maybe earlier) to 1980, they were the 1st car of most people, they were not made to last and most of them are gone mostly because of rust, very reliable but beware of water temperature (it never came with a water temp gauge) within a few years or kilometers it became a problem, our country is too hot in Summers and distances very long and most people added running water instead of coolant and with an aluminium cilinder head yo do the math, its trunk is very small (way too small with the spare tire and gas tank) when you put a roof rack and cargo they overheated because you limit the airflow to the engine, but still temperature was a problem without all these things mentioned.
    And No, they were anything but fast even compared with a Citroen 2CV.

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