SOLD 05/23

1963 Fiat
500D "Bambina"

Extensively restored RHD model from New Zealand, upgraded with 650cc motor and synchro transmission. Previously awarded 3rd place at Concorso Italiano. Just in time for Spring fun!

  • VIN110D0489866
  • Exterior ColorChiaro Verde Mint Green
  • Interior ColorCaramel
  • Mileage87187 Miles
  • Engine650cc inline air-cooled twin
  • Engine no.FSM126A1 076E 9403003
  • Transmission4-speed synchro manual
  • StatusSold
  • StockFJ2721


1963 Fiat 500 D “Bambina”

VIN – 100D0489866
Exterior Color – Mint Green
Interior Color – Caramel
Engine – 650cc Inline Air-Cooled Twin
Transmission – 4-speed synchromesh manual
Current Miles – 87,187
Current Owner – Purchased in 2009

Highlights of this Car

-Beautifully restored RHD “Bambina”originally assembled in New Zealand
-Upgraded with 650cc engine and synchromesh transmission
-3rd Place award at 2011 Concorso Italiano

General Overview

Launched in 1957 as the successor to the Italian favorite “Topolino”, the little 500 had big shoes to fill. Even as an inexpensive small car, designer Dante Giacosa had his work cut out for him to meet or exceed Italian nationalist expectations. The Nuova (New) 500 was just under 10 feet in length, lightweight, and powered by a 479cc engine, giving it the 500 or “Cinquecento” name. It didn’t take long for the new 500 to earn a great reputation as a practical, fun, and easy to drive car, creating as much cultural connection to Italian automobiles as any higher priced Ferrari or Maserati.

By 1960 the 500 had evolved to include a new variant, the “500 D”. Uprated to a whopping 499 cc and offered with a retractable roof and rear-hinging doors (improving entrance and exit), these models were highly sought after in period, so much so that Torino Motors, an Auckland, New Zealand company, seeking to avoid the high import costs, manufactured them in Auckland and marketed these as the “Fiat Bambina”, an endearing term still used by New Zealanders to affectionately refer to these cars. Numerous iterations would continue in production through 1975 but the rear-hinging door versions would cease in 1965, making these some of the most desirable variants in the 500 series line. A mere 697 Bambinas were built by Torino Motors.

History and Build of This Car

According to the accompanying 1963 New Zealand Certificate of Registration, this example was first sold in New Zealand and registered in 1963. Date stamps for subsequent ownership continued through the mid 1970s until it was imported to California in 2000. Transported in a shipping container sharing space with Mini Mokes and other 500s, the car was complete, however, in need of restoration. Under the first US based ownership, this Fiat remained as a project until 2006 when it was purchased, again with the hopes of restoration. Though it remained a project by 2009, the current owner purchased it, determined to see it to completion. He then spent the next three years locating the right parts, trim, and correct details for a comprehensive restoration. The body was mineral blasted to bare metal, removing old paint and exposing rusted areas. A high-quality metal shop installed new floor pans, a new nose, properly welded formerly rusted areas, primed and guide coated it for paint, and tested all hinged features for proper fit and closure. Though the car was originally finished in Sand Beige, the owner selected an iconic and appropriate mint green “Chiaro Verde”. The interior was reupholstered in beautifully contrasting caramel material including fabricating a new rear seat and installing modern seat belts front and rear.

The entire running gear, suspension, bearings, brakes, and hydraulic system was completely rebuilt or replaced with correct parts as needed using the best available components sourced from Fiat parts experts. Upon completion, the 499cc motor and non-synchromesh transmission were installed and the owner drove it for a year. Frustrated by cyclists and Vespa drivers yelling at him to move over, the owner commissioned Fiat expert Chris Obert of FiatPlus to rebuild a more robust later series 650cc engine with synchromesh transmission purloined from a requisite Fiat 126.

Upon completion, the owner won 3rd place at the 2011 Concorso Italiano in the Fiat Category and was later given another award at the local Coyote Creek Concours. After returning from a lengthy stay in Europe, the owner brought the car out of storage and sourced a new set of steel 500D wheels fitted with black wall radial tires, wearing Port-O-Wall whitewall bands. New front stub axles were also installed when the new radial tires were fitted as this combination vastly improves the handling and general ride characteristics.

Restoration and parts receipts accompanying the car cover thousands of dollars in specialized parts and services to complete the restoration both accurately and with regard to safe road use.

Condition Overview

Today this beautiful Fiat presents as a confidently finished example ready for enjoyable use. The restoration has aged very well over the past decade with cohesive, gentle mellowing adding to the endearing character of the car. The paint is smooth and glossy with excellent coverage over the steel body. The doors open outward from the rear hinges with ease and shut with excellent fit while the hood and engine lid open and shut properly. The minimal chrome trim features excellent reflections and consistent fit to the body. The window molding, emblems, and badges are all in excellent condition. The Fiat front emblem and chrome bumpers add nice touches to the overall look of the car. Glass lenses and turn indicator lenses are properly detailed with new gaskets and flush fit to the body. The newer steel wheels are shod with radial tires which greatly improved ride quality, embellished with antiqued whitewall tire bands, and finished with polished wheel covers. The retractable roof moves back smoothly to nest at the rear of the car allowing for open-air driving.

The handsomely restored interior is surrounded by the exterior mint color which contrasts very nicely with the caramel interior. Seating for four is surprisingly possible with properly installed modern seat belts front and rear. Correct materials are evident in the seating material, seat padding, door cards, and nicely finished ivory steering wheel. The dashboard is clean and simple, with a speedometer perched eagerly behind the steering wheel, boasting 70 mph capability, surely assisted by a massive hill and appropriate amounts of driver courage. The speedometer indicates 87,187 miles most certainly correct as it would be impossible to imagine even the most patient of drivers traveling an additional 100k miles. The floor mounted 4-speed synchromesh gear lever is comfortably in reach while roll up windows and molded rubber floor mats speak to the charming yet frugal nature of the 500. The front storage area is impressively finished with matching black rubber mat and correctly finished details. A full-sized spare tire rests upright in the forward portion. A modern Optima battery is fitted.

Under the hood, the uprated 650cc engine has been thoughtfully rebuilt by Fiat expert Chris Obert. The restored finishes and detailing are done with originality in mind. The engine components have been prepared to high standards and have remained in excellent condition since the restoration was completed. The car retains the original chassis tag as well as the rare Torino Motors, Auckland, New Zealand tag, while the engine is stamped with numbers reflective of the later series 650cc block. The underside of the car further supports the high level of restoration performed on the car including factory type finishes, comprehensively rebuilt suspension and brakes, properly specified lines, hoses, and cleanliness consistent with the careful ownership representing the past fourteen years.

Driving this Fiat, one is reminded of the virtues of a slower paced lifestyle. The 650cc engine gently coaxes the 500 from stop lights, but once underway, it does a surprisingly good job of keeping up in daily traffic. Larger modern vehicles sharing the road often slow down to enjoy the stylish looks and charm of the Bambina, waving as if seeing an old friend. Brakes and suspension are appropriate for this era with modest improvements due to modern brake lining and improved suspension bushings.

Unquestionably one of the gems of Italian history, this New Zealand built Bambina offers a unique and innovative perspective on under 1-liter Italian designs. One of fewer than 700 built, the charm and novelty of the Fiat 500 D cannot be overestimated, particularly when accompanied by a picnic basket, a vineyard destination, and plenty of time to enjoy the journey.
Items Included with the Car

The car is accompanied by the original front and rear New Zealand license plate AE 245 (as originally issued when new), numerous pieces of period literature, books, manuals, reference materials both modern and period type, “Bambina” book specializing in the New Zealand built 500s, restoration receipts, parts invoices, expired registrations from current ownership, the original 1963 New Zealand Certificate of Registration, a 500 D brochure, a spare Fiat brand fan belt, and a Fiat branded tool box with assorted tools.

The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.

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Fantasy Junction  •  510-653-7555  •  1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608