The new 500 we saw last week might be the retro car of the moment but let's not forget the real car it is "based" on. No sooner had I picked up the little Esseesse a car collector friend of mine dropped over my place with his original 500 F along Shimizu-san of T.C. Garage, one of the most well know Fiat 500 importers and tuners in Japan.
Shimizu-san brought out his own Abarth which may have a fraction of the performance the new one offers but it makes up this massive deficit with tons of character…
…I mean look at that stance with the custom widened front and rear fenders holding in the race wheels and semi-slick rubber. The extended Abarth oil sump was used in competition to hold more oil for when the car tackled corners at the track or hairpin bends at hill-climb races.
I was lucky enough to take this little thing out for a ride and really loved everything about it. For such a little two cylinder the engine has enough acceleration to make things interesting but it's the sound that really put a smile on my face. The slightly more raucous twin exit exhaust makes the best of those unique offset pulses which sound so cool when you mange to nail the rev-matched downshifts, necessary on the old 500 unless you want the non-synchronized gearbox to spit out a few teeth. The lack of precision in the steering, pedals and gearshift made me laugh, but then again you can't really compare cars like this to what we are used with today.
You can really get a feel at how FIAT nailed the new 500 design, it really belongs in this line up. However the classic car is the one I'd take home with me, I reckon I could fit most of my camera equipment in the back seat. I'd like to see the look on people's faces if I start showing up to shoots with one of these little things!
Many thanks to Shimizu-san and Takamichi for the fun afternoon!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare