1949 Fiat 500 C
Why am I an Automotive Masterpiece?
The small "Topolino" is one of the world’s best known cars. Created in the 1930s, it was a car designed to be minimal and economical, but it seems that everyone wanted to use it to race. The origins of the car are interesting; in 1930 Benito Mussolini spoke with Giovanni Agnelli about the imperative need to produce a low-cost car for the masses; it would be good "propaganda", followed by Adolf Hitler's Germany, where Ferdinand Porsche was called to put Volkswagen, "people's car", into production. The car was to cost less than Lit. 5,000: a difficult task. The FIAT chief designer, Antonio Fessia, entrusted the task to a young Dante Giacosa, who took over the previous Balilla project by simplifying every detail; the body lines were inspired by the FIAT 1500 with a tapered hood. Giacosa's aeronautical experience inspired the lightened two-rail chassis, with the engine (569 cc, 4 cylinders, side valve) mounted cantilevered to improve space. Everyone called the car "Topolino", for its size and muzzle similar to a mouse, or more precisely to Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse. In any case, the official name remained FIAT 500. The final price of Lit. 8,900 was higher than the target and very high for an ordinary worker, but the car sold. In 1938 the quarter elliptical rear leaf springs (the so-called "balestrino" or "balestra corta") became normal semi-elliptical leaf springs to improve load capacity. In 1948 the vehicle saw major changes with the "500 B" model, featuring overhead valves, improvements to the chassis and new heating. A new version became available, the "Giardiniera Belvedere", a small "woody" station wagon. In 1949 there was the final change, with the "500 C" model. The front part of the bodywork took on a more modern style, the engine received an aluminum cylinder head. The "Giardiniera Belvedere" became "metallic". The Topolino was often modified, little or radically, for races. Production of the sedan lasted until 1954, replaced by the FIAT 600, while the Giardiniera was produced until 1955. Nearly 520,000 cars were produced.
The 1949 Fiat 500 C, chassis no. 163306, raced the 1950 Mille Miglia, with Livorno plates (LI13096) with entry number 008 (starting time 00:08) driven by Giovanni Mancini AKA “Gianni”. It ranked 177th overall and 53rd in class. Photos and official documents attest to the participation. Chassis no. 163306 was also used in the Coppa della Toscana race, again in 1950 with “Gianni” Mancini at the wheel, but didn’t finish the race. After some quiet-er periods and several owners, the car was recently restored. Although over the years we have become accustomed to seeing cars of the highest lineage and power in re-enactments, it should be remembered that the Mille Miglia saw dozens of Fiat 500 Cs entered by many enthusiasts who could, with this vehicle, run on limited budgets. So, it is interesting that, recently, enthusiasts are increasingly taking Topolino back to racing (with the Mille Miglia on the front line), a car that is always well received and loved by the public.