‘The essence of the Mille Miglia goes far beyond the racing cars, the drivers, the winners and the losers. The Mille Miglia is part of Italian life and its echo resounds throughout Italy.’
This quote from Denis Jenkinson, co-driver to Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia. Moss’s victory that season in a Mercedes 300SLR is legendary, with a record time of 10 hours, seven minutes, 48 seconds – an average of 98.53mph over the 1,000-mile route.
In 1955 FIAT replaced its revolutionary Topolino small saloon, which had been around in one form or another since 1936, introducing the successor ‘600’ model at that year’s Geneva Salon.
Historically significant as the first rear-engined FIAT, the 600 was a masterpiece of automotive packaging, cramming accommodation for four into the same 2,000mm wheelbase as the outgoing two-seater Topolino, which it undercut on price.
Few Italian automobiles are as beloved or instantly recognizable worldwide as the Fiat 600, which was truly the car that put post-war Italy on wheels.
It enjoyed a universal appeal virtually unknown before or since. Economy-minded owners appreciated its small size and low cost of ownership, while the wealthy appreciated it as a second automobile that was easy to handle in the city and had chic appeal.
It became a unique icon of its age, not to mention a financial goldmine for Fiat, which produced it until 1969 in nearly 2,700,000 copies; within a few months of its introduction, the waiting time for a new 600 exceeded a year.
Although conceived as basic transport for the masses, the 600 would prove to be extremely capable on the racetrack, where examples modified by Carlo Abarth regularly turned in giant-killing performances, dominating their class and humbling larger-engined rivals.
ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
The Fiat 600 is an early example from the second year of production.
It features unique early identifying features, instantly recognizable to cognoscenti, including turn signals at the tops of the wings, a three-slat grille, and no side marker lights, as well as elegant chrome touches, including more delicate bumpers that lack overriders, and smaller hubcaps.
The Fiat 600 records just 3.000 Kilometres original since new and both the cloth interior and the paintwork are in very good condition.
The dashboard finishes are original, importantly, the car retains its original engine and as both the correct cloth interior and the paintwork are in very good condition.
The paint is quite nice and shines wonderfully despite is age. It has that great preserved paint look and really looks the part. It has a wonderful earthy patina to it.
The Fiat 600 has a very well preserved original interior.
The seats are covered in a tweed-style fabric matching the paintwork very nicely.
The patterned mats show only very slight signs of wear and is in as new condition when it left the factory 62 years ago.
Eligible by its model year for the historic Mille Miglia, for which it certainly ranks among the most economical entrants, this 600 marks an opportunity to acquire an early-production example of a modern legend.
It’s bigger and more practical than a classic 500. Some people think they’re cuter (than the 500), but we guess it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. And they didn’t make as many of them.
Are they fun to drive? Yes, they are. You have to be able to be comfortable driving a car that’s got 22 horsepower.
Fiat 600s didn’t have a lot of power, and they didn’t have a very good cooling system for extended high-speed driving.
In Italy, basically you drove around in town, and if you were to get out and run really hard up to the next town, it was, what, four to seven kilometers away.
A lot of people, it doesn’t bother them that the car doesn’t go very fast.
Small and unassuming though it may be, it is without question a very historical notable example.