1965 Fiat 500F - $17,900
  • Overview & History
  • Specifications
  • Image Gallery
The car’s friendly good looks are a huge part of its appeal, and you’ll quickly find that everyone wants to be your friend when you’re motoring along in one of these charming little machines.

Like almost every other country in Europe, Italy had to rebuild itself from the ground up following World War II. Life went on and even in the mid-50s, there was a need for inexpensive, practical transportation in a time when fuel was expensive and jobs were still hard to come by. Fiat, Italy’s premier automaker stepped up with the 500, an earnest little machine that delivered everything Italians needed from basic transportation along with a bit of traditional Italian flair. Uniquely recognizable around the world and recently updated with a modern interpretation, the 500 proves that small, inexpensive cars don’t have to be dull to be effective. Just one drive in this neat little minicar and you’ll be convinced that driving a slow car fast is the right way to have fun.

Introduced in 1957 and built for nearly two decades, the 500 name comes from the car’s original 479 cc two-cylinder air-cooled engine, which, by the time this 1965 500F was built, had increased to a whopping 499 cc. So it comes by the name honestly. Through several iterations, the 500 never lost its charming looks and while it was constantly updated throughout production, its character remains very much the same. This bright red 300F is the one you want to own: bigger engine, sunroof, with the traditional early interior that makes it so charming to own and drive. Changes include a switch to traditional front-hinged doors, but that’s probably not a bad idea from a safety standpoint, particularly in today’s world. This car has been restored as needed throughout its life, wearing a coat of bright red paint that’s perhaps 15 years old, a freshened interior that includes a modern wood-rimmed steering wheel and seat belts, and a rebuilt engine that’s as gutsy as ever. The car’s friendly good looks are a huge part of its appeal, and you’ll quickly find that everyone wants to be your friend when you’re motoring along in one of these charming little machines. Simplicity is the word, but there’s plenty of chrome to make it look dressed up, and all the brightwork is in fine condition with no notable issues. It does have a ‘500L’ badge from a later model, but that’s the lone deviation from stock.

Inside, it’s basic but the Italians have a way of making even basic seem stylish. Pleated door panels simple bucket seats are obviously part of the bargain price, but you get a very attractive single speedometer with built-in warning lights and switches arrayed around its perimeter. The speedometer is not operational, so actual mileage is unknown, but it’s probably an easy fix. The four-speed shifter is on the floor just ahead of the levers for the starter (yep) and the choke, as well as the hand brake. No radio, no heater (Italy is typically a warm-weather country), just a convenient little storage bin under the dash. Industrial carpets cover the floors and look suitably purposeful and that rear bench really is big enough for real-sized adults, although they will need to be friendly people. The folding fabric sunroof is a 500 trademark and works rather well, and includes a neatly fitted headliner inside that makes the interior feel finished. The forward “trunk” offers modest storage space, with most of the room commandeered by the gas tank and front suspension, but if you have a few packages, they’ll fit up there just fine. You’ll also note there’s no rust or rot in the critical areas around the wheel arches and the battery is tucked in up front.

By 1965, the 500’s engine was actually pretty close to the advertised 500: 499 cc’s of air-cooled thunder. With 17 advertised horsepower, it’s a gutsy little engine that asks for very little—much like it’s German competitor, the Beetle. There’s a distinctive soundtrack that’s as much motorcycle as automobile, but it would be a mistake to think this is a toy instead of a real automobile. It zips around town without much drama and you might remember some of the ABARTH variants that were actually fairly formidable machines on the track. This one runs well and is nicely sorted, so it’s ready to enjoy, and once you figure out the typical Italian quirks, it’s a fun, reliable runner. All the factory hardware is still in place, from the air filter to the muffler, and you’d be surprised how easy parts are to find for these cars so maintenance in the future will be a snap.

This little guy is too small to fit on our lift, but there are no surprises underneath: stamped sheetmetal floors in good condition, a transverse leaf spring front suspension, and a somewhat sophisticated rear trailing arm suspension that largely eliminates the usual swing axle antics that [wrongly] got the Corvair in so much trouble. It’s solid and tidy, but not detailed for show, which only means you can look forward to driving it as intended. Steering is light and highly communicative, brakes are effective, and from behind the wheel you’ll forget that this is basic transportation—that’s the Italian sensibility for you. Simple stamped steel wheels are the right look and they carry right-sized 135/80/12 radials that really improve ride and handling.

Sometimes less is more and the charming simplicity of this car will quickly win you over. Add in the very real appeal of microcars in the hobby and the eminently practical 500 becomes an easy choice. We guarantee that the guy who spends ten times this much money on a big car won’t have ten times as much fun and if you’re looking for a show-stopper, well, there aren’t many vehicles better suited to the task than this—everyone loves its cheerful little face. No matter what your status in the hobby, this is a fine discovery that’ll fit in anywhere. Call today!

Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any vehicle in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1965 Fiat 500F
Price: $17,900
Stock Number: 117142
Mileage: 43,163
VIN: 1040025
Engine: 499 cc air-cooled 2-cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 5.125
Wheelbase: 72.4 inches
Wheels: 12-inch steel wheels
Tires: 135/80/12 blackwall radials
Exterior Color: Red
Interior Color: Black vinyl
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