Classic Cars

Fiat 600 (1955-1960)

May 22, 2012

Fiat 600_02The Fiat 600 was unveiled at Geneva Motor Show in 1955. The public greeted the new car with a great interest. If the car gathered people’s attention at the show, it was even more popular at the showrooms. This was especially in Italy, where new Fiat 600 invaded the streets. In 1955, consumer habits were going through a revolution in Italy, and the Fiat 600 struck right to the public’s imagination. The small Fiat became the status symbol of Italian society, which was becoming rapidly less rural and increasingly urban.

Fiat 600 opened a new chapter in the Fiat’s tradition of manufacturing small cars. This 4-seater, economical car was now accessible to a vast public at a price below that of the Topolino: just 590,000 lire on the road. Output at the Mirafiori plant was growing steadily, and from the initial 624 units a day, it reached 839 in 1957. In just 12 months, approximately 300,000 Fiat 600s left the assembly line in Turin. Due to the car’s huge success, people had to wait almost a year for their new car.

Fiat 600 was a new type of car, both by its design and also technically. It was above all the position of the engine. A four-cylinder 633cc unit was fitted at the rear. This marked an important step forward for Fiat. This revolutionary solution saved useful space inside the car, making it possible to accommodate four comfortable seats dispite its compact external dimensions. Fiat 600 was 3215mm long, 1380mm wide and 1405mm high.

Fiat 600 introduced many new ideas to the automotive industry. Its all-rear layout meant that the propeller shaft could be eliminated and a torsion beam rear axle fitted, significantly reducing the weigh. As a result the suspension on all four wheels were independent, Fiat 600 provided good roadholding even at high speed. On the new front suspension, the transverse leaf spring acted as a stabilising element and was anchored to the stress-bearing body with rubber elements. The coil springs and telescopic hydraulic dampers ensured that the Fiat 600 was comfortable to drive, even on uneven roads.

In 1956 some small but significant changes were introduced, which made the car more comfortable and more practical. For example, the sliding windows were replaced by winding windows, and the straps of the rear seat squab were replaced with an innovative anchorage system that made it easier to tilt the seat. New hubcap trims were introduced as well as plates that made it easier to lift the car. Fiat added two new versions to the range in 1956. The first had a sunroof and the second was the famous Multipla, which was kind of an estate model of the 600.

In 1957 the Fiat 600 was equipped with new rear double light clusters, two fairings on the sides, bumper guards, larger circular direction indicators and two-tone bodywork. The interior upholstery was available in a choice of cloth or leathercloth, and the seats folded down completely. Also in 1957, the Fiat 600 was available with a padded lower facia, and two lever switches on the steering column to control the lights and the direction indicators. In 1959 the Fiat 600 was fitter with a new headlights, side lights and a new rearview mirroe. In 1960 the first generation model was replaced by the second generation, which was called the Fiat 600 D.

Specification

Engine

  • 4-cylinder
  • 633cc

Power

  • 21.5 hp/4600rpm

Top Speed

  • 95 km/h

Transmission

  • RWD
  • 4-speed manual

Brakes

  • drums on all 4 wheels

Suspension

  • front: independent, transverse leaf spring, transverse wishbones, hydraulic dampers
  • rear: independent, inclined transverse wishbones, coil springs, hydraulic dampers

Dimensions

  • length 3215mm
  • width 1380mm
  • height 1405mm
  • wheelbase 2000mm

Kerb weight

  • 590kg

Fiat 600_04