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Italian 4×4: 1961 Fiat AR59 Campagnola

The Willys Jeep made more of an impression on the world than we give it credit for. Willys were loitering around several countries after WWII so many enterprising military organizations deconstructed individual Jeeps to create their own versions. The Suzuki Samurai, the Toyota BJ and FJ, and in this country even the Bronco and the Scout were influenced by the Willys Jeep. Fiat jumped into the action in 1951, responding to the Italian military’s request for an Autoveicolo da Ricognizione (“AR”, aka a reconnaissance vehicle) by submitting a design from Dante Giacosa. Giacosa designed Fiat’s Balilla and a series of its siblings; in his spare time, he created the Cisitalia. Fiat was competing against Alfa for the military contract – and Giacosa’s design prevailed. Here on eBay is a 1961 Fiat AR59 Campagnola, with an asking price of $8675. This offroader is one of several similar Jeep-types in the Michael Harper-Smith stable of film vehicles. I found a glancing mention of a Campagnola used in On the Tiger’s Back, an Italian film made in the 1960s, but no Oscar-winning performances otherwise. The new owner will pick up this Fiat from America’s movieland – Los Angeles, California. We have Araknid78 to thank for today’s unusual tip!

The Campagnola is said to run well with good oil pressure, pushing out about 55 hp from its in-line four-cylinder OHV engine. The listing indicates there are 2.0 liters nestled in that engine bay, but in 1961, displacement was 1.9 liters. The larger engine was installed after 1973. Gear changes are handled by a four-speed manual, and the offroad capability springs from its dual-range transfer case aided by a locking differential. The rubber hoses need to be replaced; in this photo, the radiator cap is askew – probably just a pre-flight fluid check.

The no-frills interior is appropriately imperfect – in fact, I like the entire presentation here: oxidized paint in khaki green over clean sheet metal; that rough, tough front bumper; the top tied down with rope. Back to the cabin, the gauge set includes oil pressure, speedometer, and fuel; to the left of the steering wheel is an after-market ammeter, I believe. Each windshield had its own wiper motor, hung inside on the dash with a switch. The cargo area offers rudimentary seating; cushions were available for the jump seats but are missing from this example.

The vintage condition of the canvas top, its leather straps, and tie-down ropes fit the rest of the vehicle to the nines. I don’t love the mud flaps, but each to his own. While I had never heard of the Fiat AR59 Campagnola before writing this article, of course now I can’t stop seeing them. Prices seem to range from well over $30k for really top-notch examples, to high four-figures for driver-quality vehicles. I’d say the price is right here – what do you think?


  1. Howard A Member

    Well, 1 viewer in 24 hours,,,me. Coming from 4x4ville, what an impression this would make on Marshall Pass( elev. 10,842). I highly doubt many would know its origin. Always fun to see different renditions of OUR product. Oh, come on, that grill, pure Jeep with sideways slats. Its okay, we already know what a great vehicle it was. Stood the test of time, it did. A, what now,,Fiat AR59 something,,,not so much. Sorry, loose radiator cap means using coolant,( looks like a job for “Mend-Tite”) but looks to be street legal, and I pick on Italian vehicles, I should talk with some of ours, but the Italians are/were capable, MORE than capable, of making great products. Airplanes, motorcycles, okay, maybe cars, specifically Fiat, they made some pretty shoddy cars for the masses, but so did we.
    I read, Campagnolas were made until 1987, in a more civilian form, and who cares about Hollywood, the Popemobile was based on a Campagnola that Pope John Paul ll was the victim of an assassination attempt in 1981.
    Thanks for this, always fun to see “what they did” for mobility.

    Like 8
    • Mike

      I imported a 1983 Camp 5 years ago. The more modern version of the one above started in 1974 and continued until 1987. So very few in the states. Almost guaranteed to not see another one for a very long time. Found a guy that works on old Fiats 70 miles away and parts have to come from sources in Italy. Not a cheap 4×4, but if you want to be “that guy” with the weirdo vehicle, then a Camp is a good choice.

      Like 2
  2. Steveo

    If only it were numbers matching….

    Like 6
  3. Troy

    I really can’t have vehicles like this as a investment for future profit because my attitude is more like its meant to go off road so lets go see what it can do. And as things ware out or break I would have to find more modern parts that can be adapted to fit. In the end it may wind up getting mounted on a different frame

    Like 1
  4. Martin Horrocks

    Ref the movies, Michelle, a Campagnolo starred in the finale car chade of the original Blake Edwards Pink Panther movie. You know, the one with an Autobianchi Eden Roc driven by a guy in a gorilla suit? David Niven in a 250 Pinin cabriolet? Peter Sellers in the back of the Campagnolo in a suit of armour? And the Pantomime Horse?

    Not sure many Americans would know what a Pantomime Hotse is. But the movie wss brilliant and better than many Oscar winners.

    Anyhow, the FIAT Campagnolo was a cute military 4×4. Being Italian few were probably tested in the field of battle but they sure look good.

    Like 4
  5. JB@1025


    Like 1
  6. Araknid78

    Sold for:
    US $8,675.00

    Like 0

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