Better equipped than many cars twice its size, the FIAT 500 – soon nicknamed ‘Topolino’ (mouse) – brought a degree of refinement hitherto unknown to small cars when launched in 1936. Lockheed hydraulic brakes, independent front suspension and 12-volt electrics were all features while an engine mounted ahead of the front axle helped maximise cabin space for the two occupants. The 569cc, four-cylinder, sidevalve motor produced a modest 13bhp but as the Topolino weighed little more than half a ton it could nevertheless manage a respectable 50mph-plus under favourable conditions. For most buyers though, the frugal (up-to-50mpg) fuel consumption would have been the major attraction. Introduced in 1946, the 500B featured a more powerful (16.5bhp) overhead-valve engine that would be carried over to the Topolino’s final incarnation – the restyled 500C of 1949, which was the first FIAT model to offer a heating/de-misting system as standard. At the same time as the 500B was introduced, a Giardiniera estate car (also known as the Belvedere) was added to the range, offering four-seat accommodation as well as increased luggage space.
This wonderful Legno version of the Topolino station wagon is in excellent overall condition. The woodwork having been subject to recent attention. Mechanically running well indeed this charming “woody” would make an excellent addition to any collection.