Perfect First Project? 1958 Fiat 600 Transformable

Imagine walking into your local post office and being able to buy parts for your Ford, GM, or Chrysler product. Well, that was precisely the scenario pursued by Fiat with their own interpretation of the “people’s car.” The 600 was designed so that the vast majority of the maintenance could be performed by the owner, and while not every town had a garage or Fiat dealership, every town had a post office, so consumable items such as spark plugs, belts, and filters should be available to purchase from there. The 600 is a fun little car to drive, and if you would like to take on one as a project, this one is located in Trumansburg, New York, and is listed for sale here on eBay.

The design of the 600 was quite ingenious. At the time of its release, steel was in fairly short supply in Italy, so the designers had to work out how to build a car that was capable of seating four people, but used as little steel as possible. The semi soft-top was one answer, as that saved a substantial amount of steel. Even the louvers in the engine cover contributed to the cause. The car needed those to assist cooling, but it didn’t need as many as became standard on the car. Each louver equated to less steel, so savings were made there as well. This Fiat needs some work, but rust in the car appears to be quite minimal. There are a few dents and dings, but there really shouldn’t be a lot of work in whipping the body into shape. As an aside, the owner goes to great length to emphasize that the vehicle has never been in a fire, and while the engine cover does look a bit crisp. the engine bay looks to be completely clean.

The interior will require work, as the upholstery is either pretty tatty, or it’s gone completely. The front seat frames are mismatched, but the owner says that they should look the same once covered, and I do tend to agree with him. Addressing the elephant in the room, you will have noticed the lack of floors. These were removed by the previous owner, and I would assume that this was due to rust issues. Fear not, because a set of new reproduction floors are included in the sale, and these will need to be trimmed and installed.

There is no engine or transmission fitted to the car, and while what is believed to be the original engine is included in the sale, it is seized. The owner is including a Fiat 600D engine and transmission in the sale. This engine is said to run well, and it should be an easy fit into the 600’s engine bay. The vast majority of the ancillary components are included with the car, along with numerous other engine accessories.

A Fiat 600 makes a really great project car to tackle at home for a number of reasons. The construction, mechanical specifications, and the electrical systems are not particularly complex, and working on these components is well within the capabilities of your average person. They are also such a tiny car that they take up very little space, even when completely dismantled. This makes them ideal for restoration in a home workshop. This one shows a lot of promise and is being sold in a No Reserve auction. Bidding is sitting at $500 at present, and if the bidding doesn’t go too high, then this could be a great project car, especially for a first-timer.

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  1. RayT Member

    Yoohoo, Adam…this is a Fiat 600, not 500…. Big difference!

    One advantage is, of course, that the replacement Fiat 500 engine the seller provides is a straight bolt-in job!

    • RayT Member

      Of course I managed to type the wrong number for the engine in my comment. The photo seems to show a 600 engine, as you wrote. That’s why writers need editors!

      But the 600 is a much larger car — relatively — and has a four-cylinder, water-cooled powerplant. The 500 has an air-cooled “twin.” The 600 offers more interior space, too (again, relatively).

  2. Chinga-Trailer

    I think Fiat invented and perfected rust.

    • Fred W

      Invented by Fiat, perfected by the previous car, Chevy Vega.

  3. Beatnik Bedouin

    So much rust for your money. Sadly, I think this is a parts car, at best…

  4. Kenneth Carney

    Now hold on a minute folks! It may not
    be the best one out there, but it would
    make a really cool EV. The price is right,
    but the shipping charges would wipe me
    out. I’d really consider it If I didn’t have
    to fix the trunk latch on Mom’s Buick.
    Right now, I’m probably looking at $2500
    if I have to replace the entire deck lid–and
    that’s hiring a body shop to do it as they
    have all the specialized tools to do the
    job. Well, there’ll be another one coming
    along soon–I hope!

    • TC

      Kenneth, if you have to pay someone to replace a deck lid, you need to get another hobby pal, I mean a few bolts and the hold up mechanism, then re align it, not rocket science, my missus helped me fit the hood and trunk lid to my 65 T-Bird and she’s only little.

  5. Kenneth Carney

    Is it the same on a modern car? Mom’s
    Buick is a 2001 model and requires special tools to do some things to it that
    need to be done such as adjusting the
    engine timing and changing the plugs
    when they need it. Seems to me that
    the automakers have made it very difficult for the average person to effect
    repairs themselves. I hope to get around
    that by just replacing the latch itself.
    Might have to go to Buick to buy it though. I’ve checked online for how-to
    videos to show me how to replace it but
    all I’m finding is videos for Hondas and
    VWs with the same problem we’re having
    instead of American cars like Mom’s
    Buick. Just wish Mom’s car was built 50
    years ago. That way, I’d be in my element
    and know what I’m doing.

    • Fred W

      Kenneth, Mom’s Buick is practically an antique itself- nothing to be scared of. Go to a salvage yard, pull another latch, replace. If it doesn’t work, start checking fore and aft alignment.

      • TC

        Kenneth, get in the trunk with a flash lite, get Mom to hold the lid down and see where it’s not latching or lining up. I just did that with my 62 Imperial, when the trunk jammed I pushed it open with my foot, turned the lock rod with a pair of pliers from the inside.

  6. Grid Member

    3AM and my head is working overtime thinking about “Transforma,” urged on by the recent dual-engined postal Jeep. The floors are out, engine is history, What better place to mount a couple of Harley 1200 drivetrains, each powering a rear wheel. Extend the steering column to the rear seat.If the two firing orders get out of cadence at a stoplight the possibility of being flung through the roof exists…need to think about that…Or, a pair of Suzuki GS1100Es, to be first at the scene of the accident.

  7. Ike Onick

    Transformable to beer cans or maybe a nice, upscale washer-dryer set.

  8. tioguishe

    I am not sure I understand what Adam is saying about saving steel by punching louvers. Usually you don’t even get scrap out of a louver, it is a punch that bends the metal sheet.
    Maybe you mean a thinner sheet could be used because the louvers add strength?

  9. Billy1

    Someone needs to buy this and swap in a VW Bug type 1 engine, likes these:

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