Mickey Mouse Car: 1953 Fiat 500C Topolino

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$18,000 seems like a lot for this little convertible listed here on craigslist, but then there was the 1937 we featured a while back that needed complete restoration, also for $18,000. Perhaps for some, this is a better choice. It would seem likely it would take well over $18,000 to restore even one of these little cars. It’s from a private collection in Alabama and is said to run and drive, but needs brake work. Weighing in at 1,300 pounds and with just 13HP out of its 35 CID engine, it shouldn’t take much to stop. There’s no word on how long it was in the collection or when it was restored, just that it’s now in Orlando.

front

It looks pristine on the outside. The front reminds me of a 1950s Studebaker truck. You might say it is even cute.

front seats

The inside looks amazing as well and there’s no sign of rust. If this is as nice as the pictures show, perhaps it is worth $18,000 to someone. After sitting, it’s no doubt time for at least an oil change, tune up, tires and a brake overhaul, but what a nice little car. Is this too nice to use for a driver?

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Comments

  1. Bill Mesker

    Well I’d do a newer Fiat 500 Abarth motor and six speed manual swap into this little bugger and throw a set of four wheel disks on it. Assuming it’s front wheel drive that boosted 1.4 that’s rated at 160 horses and seeing that this Topolino only weighs 1300 pounds you would have a pretty interesting little sleeper on your hands.

  2. Matt Tritt

    Gad; what a cool car. I lived directly across the RR tacks and river from the NSU factory in Neckarsulm/Heilbronn in 67 while serving in the army. They were partnered with Fiat from soon after the war, but NSU had been around since the 1800’s – building some of the world’s first bicycles and sewing machines. There’s a ‘Prinz” in the background in the first photo, which had an uncomfortably close similarity to the Corvair. Just smaller. I would buy this car (if I didn’t have a wife!).

  3. jsilves1@tampabay.rr.com

    They could at least have put new weatherstripping in around the doors.. cute little car, but anything by Fiat is a P.O.S. Oh! And by the way.. Just putting the name Mickey Mouse on the ad doesn’t qualify it for an $18k price tag..

    What are they thinking????

  4. jsilves1@tampabay.rr.com

    By the way,, Mickey Mouse is a cartoon.. It never drove this car..

  5. Louie

    It’s at $13,500 now

  6. Dolphin Member

    As much as I have respect for Fiat for putting so many Italian drivers and their families on the road for very affordable prices over the decades, I can’t help but wonder when a big clown with a white greasepaint face is going to jump of of this ‘little mouse’ and start hopping around.

  7. Francisco

    Such cynicism among your readers, Barnfinds.

  8. john

    This car is an iconic piece of motoring history. Make fun all you like, I would buy this if I could. Never thought of looking at USA for one. In great condition too.

    • Matt Tritt

      I agree. Such a cool car!

  9. XYZOL

    Makes me wonder… you can’t be successful when your products are P.O.S. so how come such a P.O.S. maker as Fiat actually OWNS one third of American ‘Big Three’ and is sixth biggest automaker in the world in terms of annual revenue? Any thoughts?

  10. Matt Tritt

    Well, Fiat is actually a far older company than Chrysler, and built high end luxury cars that had a great reputation (even in the US!) up until post WWII. Calling them a “POS” is pretty pointless. I’ve owned a couple over the years, and was really happy with the performance and maybe not so happy with the required maintenance. I bought a new 850 Sport Coupe’ while living in Germany in the 60’s, which was a hell of a car at the time. I had a 128 “saloon” back home in Santa Barbara in the early 80’s that was a great car, except for the required method of valve adjustment, which involved adding/removing shims under the overhead cam. Whew. The thing is: These cars were made for European driving and European standards of maintenance, not for the American road with very long driving distances and very infrequent attention to maintenance. And also, Fiats lasted much longer in the Western US than in the East, where salt is used on Winter roads. If properly taken care of, there’s no doubt that Fiats are fun to drive.

  11. Dolphin Member

    Agree with Matt, Fiat has a great history. It built some wonderful, expensive, high end cars prior to WW2, including some very successful race cars. Then after WW2 it went downmarket, and did wonders putting people and families on the road for not much cost.

    But…. as Matt said, post WW2 Fiats were mostly unsuited to the enormous expanses, driving habits, hauling needs, and general expectations of No Americans. And in going downmarket Fiat at some point started using cheap Russian steel, if I understand it correctly, which had a tendency to rust more than other steel. And since the cars were designed for sunny Italy there was never much attention paid to winterising or protection from salt on the roads.

    Then there’s the fact that Fiats were made to be affordable for Europeans, which meant small size and modest equipment. That made them seem unsuitable to most No Americans. They are mostly very small cars, to this day, at least for the cars we see over here. I was impressed by the interior room in the car they sell now in No America, though.

    xyzol, I think that just about all of the credit for the current state of Fiat/Chrysler, at least in terms of its leadership, should go to Sergio Marchionne, who is Italian-Canadian. I do not think that Fiat would be in the position that it is now without him.

  12. Dolphin Member

    One more thing to keep in mind here…..Italians and FIAT had a sense of humor and affection for the name of this car, ‘Topolino’.

    In Italian ‘topolino’ means “baby mouse”. That name is sometimes interpreted as Mickey Mouse by Italian speakers. Everyone acknowledged that it was a very small car.

    • Matt Tritt

      Exactamente.

  13. Coventrycat71

    I’very noticed a lot of these restored oddball cars needing “brake work”. I imagine that they can’t find parts, and neither will the next owner.

  14. John H.

    Is that 13 HP the normally aspirated version or with the supercharger?

  15. Bob

    Actually, I am more interested in the green car in the background. I believe it is a Fiat 1300 or 1500 sedan. Pretty rare in this country since they weren’t imported.

  16. Matt Tritt

    Noooo.. that’s a NSU Prinz.

  17. Paul B

    The green car in the background is a 2-cylinder NSU Prinz 4, and I want it. Wikipedia photo here. The Topolino? I have no interest.

  18. Brakeservo

    Wowee!! He used the magic words “Barn Find” in his ad!!! Why of course that will make me want to pay way too much!! Yessiree!! As soon as someone says barn find we’re all gonna run out an’ pay way too much . . . at least that’s what this seller is hoping. If you can’t tell, I’m a little offended by sellers using that term indiscriminately – it makes me think that they believe I’m stupid.

  19. Rex Rice

    When I was in Tripoli, Libya in the late 50’s, I saw a ’39 Topolino for sale for 640,000 Lire so made contact and took it for a drive. Lots of oil smoke, tattered interior, very gutless engine & ragged top, so I passed. Shipping it to the States and driving it home to the West Coast would be impossible. For $900 US, I couldn’t justify it as a local driver either. But it was fun to drive.

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