Fiat 500 Nuova (1957-1975) - The Buying Guide
The classic Fiat 500 is an icon of the Italian automobile, and even an icon in its own right. Nowadays, it has become a collector's item and is back in the garages of enthusiasts. Fiat 500 Nuova overview: recognizing it, what to look for when buying it, ratings. par Benzin
If we talk about Italian cars, you will certainly think of either a red Ferrari or a classic Fiat 500 called "Nuova". That's how iconic the little city car is, with 3.5 million units sold in its almost 20-year career.
No wonder, as it is full of qualities. Its endearing look, the simplicity of its design and its low price make it an ideal access to the world of vintage cars for all enthusiasts.
The only problem is that Fiat 500 Nuova cars can be found on the used car market in all models, all states and all prices. So we've compiled a little guide to help you find your ideal 500 and browse the classified ads like a pro.
A, B, C... R? Finding your way around the Fiat 500 models
Throughout its long career, the Fiat 500 "Nuova" has received several names, so much so that it is easy to get lost. Let's make it simple: each letter corresponds to a version, which appeared successively and each one of them brought its own set of modifications. Here is the list:
500 A (1957-1958)
Distinguishing marks Almond-shaped turn signals and "moustache" air inlets at the front, fixed windows on the first series, doors with antagonistic opening (called "suicide").
Engine 479cc, 13hp (first series) then 15hp ("Economy" and "Normal" versions)
Production : Env. 50.000 ex
500 B "Sport" (1958-1960)
Distinguishing marks Standard sheet metal roof, white with red side stripes
Engine : 499.5cc, 21cv
Production : Env. 10.000 ex
500 C "Sunroof" (1959-1960)
Distinguishing marks Canvas sunroof, round turn signals under the headlights with repeaters on the fenders
Engine 479cc, 16.5cv
Production : Env. 120.000 ex
500 D (1960-1965)
Distinguishing marks 22-liter fuel tank, sunshade, folding rear seat
Engine : 499.5cc, 17.5cv
Production : Env. 640.000 ex
500 F (1965-1968)
Distinguishing marks Doors with "normal" opening, enlarged windshield, removal of the hood strip, 120km/h speedometer
Engine : 499.5cc, 18cv
Production : Env. 1.000.000 ex
500 L "Luxury" (1968-1972)
Distinguishing marks Adding a bumper guard up to the new rectangular logo, additional chrome moldings, 130km/h rectangular speedometer, matte black dashboard and sport steering wheel, new colors (yellow and black)
Engine : 499.5cc, 18cv
Production : Env. 1.400.000 ex
500 R " Rinnovata " (1972-1975)
Distinguishing marks New Fiat logo on the front, sheet metal wheels without Fiat 126 hubcap
Engine : 594cc, 18hp
Production : Env. 160.000 ex
Common problems with the Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 Nuova has one major advantage: a very simple design and wide distribution. The direct consequence is that its mechanics are proven and reliable and that maintenance and repairs are simple thanks to an abundance of cheap parts. However, one major concern remains: corrosion. The steel used at the time was neither of good quality, nor did it benefit from efficient treatments against corrosion. Here is a quick overview of the problems encountered:
The two-cylinder engine will not shine for its sound, balance or power. However, it is very reliable and its inspection can be summarized in three criteria: its tightness, its smoke and its operating temperature. An engine that has few leaks, does not emit smoke (especially blue smoke) and does not overheat can be considered to be in good condition.
Simplicity is also the strength of the 500. The drum brake system is simple and inexpensive to maintain. If the car brakes straight and no fluid leaks are detected, the braking system is good. The play in the steering should be checked, and if it seems abnormal then the steering ball joints should be replaced. Finally, check that the car has a normal trim (that it does not lean), even if the leaf suspension at the front is durable and the springs at the rear are cheap to change.
This is where vigilance is required. The front floors are the main victims of corrosion. Check their condition from the bottom and the top, under the carpets. Then, the battery tray located at the front should be checked. Finally, inspect the fenders and the bottom of the doors, which are also very often witnesses to the presence of corrosion.
How much is a Fiat 500 Nuova worth?
Each generation of the 500 has its own advantages and disadvantages. The older series will have an additional old-fashioned charm, such as the use of more noble materials (plastic having gradually been invited on board) and an increased rarity. The more recent ones offer a more complete equipment and a little more willing mechanics.
Thus, the choice of a model will remain mainly a matter of taste, and prices vary very little from one model to another, except for the first series (up to model D) which will require a higher budget due to their rarity.
Here is an estimate of the current odds, based on auction results:
Fiat 500 A
To be restored : 10.000€
Average condition: 15.000€.
Good condition: 20.000€.
Perfect condition : 25.000€.
Fiat 500 B
To be restored : 20.000€
Average condition: 30.000€.
Good condition: 40.000€.
Perfect condition : 50.000€.
Fiat 500 C-D
To be restored : 6.000€
Average condition : 8.500€.
Good condition : 12.000€.
Perfect condition: 16.000€.
Fiat 500 F-L-R
To be restored : 3.000€
Average condition : 5.500€.
Good condition : 8.000€.
Perfect condition: 14.000€.
How to buy a Fiat 500 Nuova ?
Benzin regularly offers classic Fiat 500 Nuova cars for sale. Many models are available, in various states and at all prices so that you can find the 500 that suits you.
The numerous photos allow you to inspect the bodywork and the general condition in detail. The videos are also a good way to check the mechanical condition. Finally, you will be able to buy your 500 at the right price thanks to a transparent bidding system.