This was the Italian company’s first rear-engined model, replacing the small 500 Topolino in 1955. Both of these cars were designed by Dante Giacosa, and each time he was faced with the task of rationalizing the design to make the car small but roomy.
Source: Espiritu RACER
The 600 was the brainchild of the talented Italian car designer Dante Giacosa, who was rightfully called the father of the most famous compact Fiats. He developed such famous and successful models as 508, 500, and 126. In the early 50s, in the wake of the post-war economic recovery, the Italian automaker undertook to update its model range. Mr. Giacosa was instructed to develop a new urban model that would replace the previous Topolino model. It had to be small, simple in design to easily produce in huge quantities, and, most importantly, affordable. After all, although Italy was experiencing an industrial boom, most of the citizens still did not have the finance to afford a personal vehicle.
In the post-war years, the two-seater 500 Topolino, produced in the mid-1930s, was the most massive Italian car. However, later in the post-war period, many Italians preferred to ride on scooters, as they were much more affordable. However, by the mid-1950s, the well-being of the country’s population had improved significantly, and there was a need for a more comfortable means of transportation. In 1955, the task of motorizing the new post-war Italy was entrusted to the company’s CEO Vittorio Valletta who had the idea to renovate the then-obsolete Topolino. To replace the Topolino, Dante Giacosa designed two small cars at once with a rear-engine layout, which was considered the most promising in the 1950s: the 600 and Nuova 500. The first debuted in 1955, and the second one – in 1957. They were preceded by five prototypes built between 1952 and 1954 with experimental V2 engines. At the same time, these automobiles had nothing in common with them, except for the rear-engine layout. So, on 9 March 1955, a small 600 appeared and became an iconic symbol of the economic and social recovery of the war-torn nation. Despite their compact dimensions, both cars were four-seaters. Both versions were produced with an all-metal body and with a fabric central part of the roof, which could be folded. The older model was equipped with a four-cylinder water-cooled engine with a capacity of 21.5 hp, the younger one was equipped with a two-cylinder 15-horsepower “air vent”. Remarkably, the 600th left a bright mark on history, and was even mentioned in Toto Cutugno’s famous song “The Italian”. At home, the Fiat “six hundredths” was produced for 15 years, and in total, 2,695,197 such cars rolled out of the assembly line of the main plant in Turin. In addition, numerous small Italian studios produced them with all kinds of body types. By the way, the world’s first compact van Multiple was created on the same platform.
In 1960 the car was equipped with a new 767 cc 30-horsepower engine, which increased the maximum speed to 110 km/h. The automobile was equipped with an inline 4-cylinder engine, with a lower camshaft and pushers, water-cooled, with a volume of 767 ccs. The cylinder block was placed longitudinally at the rear of the vehicle, the radiator was to the right of it. A 4-speed manual transmission without a synchronizer in first gear was in the same block with the leading rear axle. The water cooling system made it possible to avoid the problems typical for vehicles of this class: engine overheating and an insufficiently efficient interior heater. The fully independent suspension had a non-standard device: the front one was on gas shock absorbers and a transverse leaf spring, which acted as a stabilizer, and the rear one was on trailing arms, springs, suspension struts, and brakes on all wheels – hydraulic drum. In addition to the passenger version, there was a commercial modification without rear seats and closed rear-side window openings. At the main Mirafiori plant in Turin, the Fiat 600 family was produced until 1969. The fact is that until the early 1970s, in Turin itself and its environs, there were dozens of body shops and small vehicle factories that made their versions based on the Fiat 600 – the so-called elaborate, which meant “modified” in Italian.
Source: Historics Auctioneers
In 1960, the model line was upgraded and assigned the index D. This automobile should be called 750 or 800, but the name Seicento (as “600” was pronounced in Italian) was common among people becoming a kind of brand, so they left the name to change it.
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