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Would You Believe…? 1970 Ferves Ranger

Would you believe…this is a Ferrari? I mean, not exactly, but sort of; Ferves is a portmanteau of FERrari VEicoli Speciali (Ferrari Special Vehicles), and the Turin-based company produced about 600 of these pint-size, Fiat 500-derived off-roaders between 1966 and 1971. This one is being advertised as a 1973—likely a late registration of a leftover car, and it’s referred to elsewhere in the ad as a ’70—and is one of only about 50 thought to survive. How’s that for Ferrari-like rarity? Find it here on Dutch auction site Troostwijk (although the car is in Italy), where the opening bid is just €4800 (about $5,630). Try finding another Ferrari for that price! Hat tip to reader Jeff for the find.

Now, before you get too much more excited, I should clarify that—no doubt intentionally prancing-adjacent horse logo aside—the Ferrari in question was not Enzo, but Carlo. The Turin location should have been a tip-off that the Maranello-based sports car maker wasn’t really involved. Aside from the wee Ranger, Carlo Ferrari seems to have left little legacy and I could find no information about him online or in my library. He was neither a son nor brother of Enzo, so perhaps one of you sleuths can let us know if you’re able to find a definitive connection to the famous Ferrari.

So, okay, it’s not really a Ferrari—what is it? Mostly a Fiat; within its 103.7-inch overall length (yes, that’s shorter than the wheelbase of my then-compact Corvair) it packs the 18-HP two-cylinder engine and steering box of a Fiat 500F, the suspension and brakes of a Fiat 600D, and the front axle shafts of an Autobianchi Primula, per this handy article on the Italian Wikipedia site (thanks, Google Translate!). Both two- and four-wheel drive versions were made; it’s not clear which this is, as the angle of the photos makes it impossible to tell if there’s a front differential. Both versions have a lockable rear differential and ultra-low gearing to allow the car to be driven off road at a walking pace.

Amazingly, there’s room for four passengers within the Ranger’s tiny footprint. This example seems to be very complete and serviceable—there’s not much to break, and you’d be hard-pressed to rack up the miles very quickly—although the folding top is nowhere to be seen. Its mechanical condition is unspecified, but I’m gonna guess that the engine and other systems could use a little refreshing. Again, the overall simplicity is to the car’s advantage, not to mention the Fiat parts interchangeability. The bodywork seems mostly intact and okay, if a bit lumpy in spots.

If I know my French (which I don’t, at all), it would appear that this Ranger started its life in the service of the Maison San Remo, a hotel perhaps (?), in Saint-Tropez, or maybe Nice, France. There’s something about Belgians on there, too. French speakers, jump into the comments! This is a neat, rare little off-roader at a tiny price; survivors are few and restored examples can get quite pricey. Only about ten Rangers are known to reside in the U.S. Any of you want to tackle this modest project and maybe make it 11?


  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    These are so cool, nice find! If all was right with the world this would already be in our garage.

    Like 5
  2. Ikey Heyman Member

    I really don’t think I’d be lying if I told my wife, “Hey, honey, I’m buying a Ferrari!”

    Like 3
  3. Eric Z

    So the car comes from Nice (recognizable by the 06 at the end of the license plate) and BAMBOU is a restaurant with a private beach at the Promenade de Anglais.

    In St. Tropez there is also a restaurant BAMBOU, but if it was in use there the license plate would have to end with 83. And the Maisson SanRemo and Le Treizain on Rue de Belgique (Nice) were also restaurants. All appear to have had the same owner.

    Like 12
    • Nathan Avots-Smith Member

      Eric, you are my hero. Impressive work!

      Like 5
      • Eric Z

        That was easy, I spent too much of my time in Nice. I wonder if I haven’t seen this car before anyway.

        Like 0
    • MikeH

      But the car has “st tropez” written on it twice. It had to have begun its life in st tropez and later moved to nice. You have to change plates when you change the departement in which it is registered.

      Like 0
  4. Dirk

    Perfect little summertime bar hopper. Just enough room for me and a half dozen bikini-clad bimbettes. The ‘No Smoking’ sign is a nice touch. Ah, to be young and single again (or maybe even just single again) (or maybe even just young again).

    Like 7
    • Wrong way

      I am single again after 36 years of marriage! It’s over rated believe me! Being lonely sucks! However I really don’t miss her at all! I have my little dog and he’s just right! :-)

      Like 5
      • Dirk

        Well obviously you ain’t doin’ it right.

        Like 1
  5. Kiwi Glen

    Paint it red, add a spoiler, and rev it up at the traffic lights all the while yelling that you only race for pink slips

    Like 6
  6. Keith Johnson

    Doesn’t exactly scream “roadholding ability,” does it?

    Like 1
  7. Wrong Way

    Oh yeah I forgot, this little car is cool, but what would you do with it if a guy bought it?

    Like 0
  8. MarkEvans

    Did these things ever have any off road capability?

    Like 0
  9. Al Boucher

    You have a choice: walking pace or slightly above walking pace.

    Like 1
  10. Italian Car Club Charleston

    From 1969 on, they came as 2WD or 4WDcars. This specific example is a 2WD. There are currently at least 250 confirmed surviving cars out of the 600 units produced.

    Like 1
  11. Will Owen

    There’s a car guy and collector with a nice big space near downtown L.A., a bunch of very swell Alfas etcetera, and one of these … and if he were to offer me anything from his collection, I might very well pick the Ranger! For one thing, I’ve always had the hots for itty bitty cars; my first car was a ’60 Fiat 500, and this is what you could call the SUV version.

    Off-road ability? Well, my 500, on 12″ street tires, was bought in Anchorage AK in mid-winter of 1961/62, and taught me very quickly and well how to drive on anything … so I would expect this to roll over or through whatever it’s got grunt for, just not too quickly. I have been told these were popular with hunters, and see no reason to believe otherwise.

    Like 2
  12. John

    Talk about optimism, that little thing is also wired for a trailer and has a hitch!

    Like 1
  13. Clay Byant

    Looks like an Eshelmann on steroids…….

    Like 0
    • Wrong Way

      Okay, I am curious as to what a Eshelman is and what do they look like?

      Like 0
    • Wrong Way

      Thanks for the info! I tried to look one up, but couldn’t find any! I am really surprised that you got back to me! Love those breaks! LOL

      Like 1
  14. George

    I think that the Eshelmann would be terrifying to drive at its top speed of 25 mph. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgBr6Pqao58

    Like 1
  15. George

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