With this new article we continue our voyage, began with the 500D, that will lead us to discover incredible little cars of great beauty and rarity. For this trip in the world of the Special Built Fiat 500 we have to thank our friend Enrico that we will better know step by step along with his cars of his truly beautiful and unique collection. The first car that we present is a Fiat 500 Camioncino, an unusual variant, derived from the 500 Giardiniera, which keeps the unmistakable front despite finishing with an unusual pickup line.
Enrico tells us about his long research for a 500 Camioncino. He admired for the first time this amazing car during a trade fair in Padova at the stand of the Fiat 500 Italian Club falling in love with it. He suddenly began a search that led him to Nepi, near Viterbo. The car he found was not ready to go but was a set of parts all disassembled waiting for being restored. His future Fiat 500 Camioncino, made in 1972, it was undergoing a not yet finished restoration.
Once brought, Enrico finished the work of restoration at his home, allowing us today to admire a variant of a car that made history. We are in 1960, when the production of the 500 Giardiniera is started, a few years later in ’65 Giannini designed the Fiat 500 Camioncino, removing the back pavilion and applying a chest with ribbed metal sides.
Giannini produced about 10 complete copies of the 500 Camioncino and various chests that were then given to other constructors of illustrious names like Lombardi, Savio, Scionieri and Vignale who brought the production to about 100 cars. Despite its look makes you think otherwise, the Fiat 500 Camioncino was a real working car for its time, this little truck could carry up to 250kg and was even present a possibility to power stationary machines if necessary using the power of the engine.
An interesting aspect of this car, also present in the 500 Giardiniera, is the engine. At the time the Fiat 500 was versatile but not so big, so Fiat decided to make a family hatchback version called Giardiniera. The conformation of the engine, however, made this type of solution, inspired by the Topolino Belvedere, impossibile. To make the project feasible, the engine of the 500 sedan was completely revolutionized, rotating it by 90 degrees to reduce the vertical dimensions and moving the positions of key organs such as the carburettor and the fan. This new type of engine with horizontal cylinders in line, has been housed under the load floor.
This innovative solution proved to be more efficient of the engine of the sedan and has been never replaced for all 18 years of the 500 Giardiniera production. This engine has been also fitted in the cars racing in the Formula Monza until the early 80s. The Fiat 500 Camioncino was very innovative for its time, and even Enrico finds him a very special piece of his collection. He say that at when he drive it always collects a lot of attention and praise, both because it is a Special Built model and because this little car has the famous front while having a completely different shape and use.
Text: Edoardo Mascalchi
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi, Francesco Giovannini