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60 years of Fiat 600: the better Fiat 500 for less money

60 years of Fiat 600
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Fiat 600 is bigger, better - and cheaper

As F iat before 60 Years ago presented the new 600 at the Geneva Motor Show, nobody thought of the Fiat 500, which came only 2 years later. Today it is the other way around: the Fiat 500 Nuova has become a favorite, the 600 falls behind. It can actually do everything better - and it is much cheaper these days.

Simple technology, little sheet metal - cheap to build

In 1955 the successor to the 500 'Topolino' is in Geneva and points the way to the modern age - as Fiat envisions it. Because the Turin-based company is gearing up for the future as a mass manufacturer of affordable small cars. This is how the Fiat 600 is also created under the The aim is to build a simple, robust automobile that everyone can afford.

At the time development of the 600 began in Turin, the Fiat 500 Topolino was still rolling off the assembly line. The pre-war small car is a bestseller. Fiat built it more than 515,000 times between 1936 and 1955.

Suicide doors and good space economy

The footsteps, into which the new Fiat 600 should step , are therefore quite large. Since the required raw materials are not always readily available and also quite expensive, the Fiat 600 developers under the leadership of Dante Giacosa are making a radical cut in order to be able to manufacture their new beacon of hope as efficiently as possible. Instead of the profile frame, the Fiat 600 is given a material-saving, self-supporting body.

In order to improve the space in the interior with hardly any changes in dimensions, the engine moves to the rear. The doors are still hinged at the back and make it easier to get into the rear.

Fiat 600 a little more expensive than standard Beetle

The space concept works, the new Fiat 600 offers an identical wheelbase ( 2,000 mm) and a length that is only around 8 centimeters longer than the Topolino - but with a width that has increased by 10 centimeters. The Fiat 600 offers space for 4 with reduced material usage.

Less sheet metal means lessCosts. This enabled Fiat to keep the price of the 600 so low that many could afford it. The Fiat 600 cost 590,000 lire (around 3,965 marks at the time) when it was launched in 1955. For comparison: a standard VW Beetle cost 3,790 marks, the better-equipped export model was 4,600 marks - a heating system that worked as well as the Fiat 600 with its water-cooled four-cylinder, however, neither had.

Independent suspension front and rear

Fiat relies on the chassis the all-round independent wheel suspension, which was still rare in this car class at the time. At the front on triangular wishbones and a transverse leaf spring (there is again the cost reduction), at the rear there is a modern design with struts and trailing arms.

The chassis can handle significantly more power than Fiat expects of it as standard: Initially, the small water-cooled one does Four-cylinder with 633 cubic centimeters a manageable 23 hp. At least enough to accelerate the 600 kg light cuddle ball to 100 km /h.

New Fiat 600 D with performance plus

However, the Fiat 600 does not really take off for a year its premiere - when the Italians push in the convertible sedan with a huge roll top. The car is particularly popular in the southern European countries. With a total of almost 900,000 Fiat 600s produced, the Topolino's production figures are easily topped.

From 1960, the Fiat 600 D followed with a larger engine (now 767 cubic meters) and an output increased by around 25%. The 29 PS doesn't sound like much, but the performance of the 600 D is significantly better. The top speed increases to 110 km /h. It is on par with the VW Beetle, whose 1.2-liter boxer has an output of 30 hp and a top speed of 112 km /h.

The Fiat 600 conquers the world

With more than 2 million units sold, the Fiat 600 D can more than double the production figures. Fiat now has the means to conquer the whole world with the 600. Well, almost anyway, because Fiat issues licenses in numerous countries. The 600 is running in its third generation, now with front hinged doors and a tank enlarged to 31 liters, in Yugoslavia (as Zastava 750), in Germany (NSU Fiat Jagst), Argentina, Austria, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and in Spain from Tape. The plant in Barcelona builds it as the Seat 600 and also offers a four-door version as the Seat 800.

Around 2.7 million units of the entire Fiat 600 series are produced in Italy, 923,487 in Yugoslavia and Spain 814,926, in Argentina 304,016, in Germany 172,000 and in Chile about 12,000 copies. Overall, the Fiat 600 achieved a total production figure of 4.94 million in the 14 years from 1955 to 1969Units - and surpasses its predecessor by almost 10 times. Even the Fiat 500 lagged behind these numbers, with a total of 4.25 million copies made.

First 'large-capacity' van

Fiat expanded the 600 model range to include small vans, Flatbed trucks, the open beach wagons called 'Jolly' and a coupé that were manufactured by Carrozzeria Vignale. The world's first large-capacity van is also being built there, although the large-capacity area is a bit exaggerated. The Fiat 600 Multipla designed by Dante Giacosa appeared as early as 1956 and had four doors and six seats.

What was new about it was the design as a front-wheel drive car: the front passengers sit above the front axle, the wheels are controlled via the bent steering column. The Fiat 600 Multipla also offered a camper and a taxi version, which is very popular today.

The hot Fiat 600 from Abarth

Also the Austrian tuner Karl 'Carlo' Abarth was enthusiastic about the Fiat 600. But of course the manageable performance was not enough for him. So, based on the 600, he created his tuning derivatives, which are very successful in mountain racing. With very simple interventions and classic tuning, he increased the performance of the four-cylinder to 40 hp. The top versions Fiat-Abarth 850 TC (Turismo Competizione) and 1000 TC achieve up to 100 hp and, thanks to their handy chassis and a weight of around 600 kg, were almost unbeatable in mountain races.

This is how much a Fiat 600 costs today

Compared to the popular Fiat 500 Nuova, the Fiat 600 is still almost a special offer on the classic car market. According to Classic Analytics, a Fiat 600 in condition 2 costs around 9,400 euros - a good Fiat 500 Nuova is more than 50% more expensive at 15,000 euros. In state 4 the prices are 4,400 euros (500 Nuova) and 2,600 euros (600).

Anyone who prefers the equally cuddly 600 to the super popular Cinquecento can still look forward to the fact that the four-cylinder is considerably more usable than the narrow-chested two-cylinder 500. You don't have to worry about spare parts with either, because the scene is huge: almost everything can be ordered from the catalog of one of the many specialists.


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