This is a 1970 Fiat 500 L, L standing for “Lusso” or “Luxury” in Italian. The 500 L featured a slew of upgrades over the standard Fiat 500 and as a result it’s now very popular with collectors across Europe and around the world.
The 500 L you see here comes with a matching trailer that was made using the front and back of another Fiat 500. They’ve been melded together and finished in the same shade of red, now causing double-takes from passersby as it trundles along.
Fast Facts – The Fiat 500 L
- Launched in 1957, the Fiat 500 was introduced as a response to Italy’s need for affordable mobility in the post-World War II era. Dante Giacosa, Fiat’s chief engineer, conceptualized and designed the car to be economical, compact, and efficient, catering to the average Italian’s transportation needs during a period of recovery while also accounting for their limited spending power.
- Measuring less than 3 meters, the Fiat 500 was perfect for navigating the narrow streets of Italian cities. Despite its compact size it was capable of accommodating four passengers. The vehicle’s rounded features, minimalist interior, and signature canvas roll-back roof quickly became emblematic of 1950s Italian style.
- The Fiat 500 featured a rear-mounted, air-cooled, 500cc twin-cylinder engine. While not designed for speed, the car was known for its fuel efficiency and ease of maintenance – aligning with its original purpose of being an economical solution for Italians (and many other Europeans) during the post-war recovery years.
- Over the years, the Fiat 500 underwent various design and mechanical changes to adapt to evolving consumer needs and market trends. By the mid-1970s, however, production of the Fiat 500 came to a halt due to shifting market dynamics and the emergence of newer, more modern models like the Fiat 126.
The Fiat 500: A History Speedrun
The Fiat 500 was released in 1957, it emerged in the backdrop of a war-ravaged Europe, a Europe that was in desperate need of affordable mobility solutions. It was a time that would result in the invention of the Vespa and the Fiat 500, two of the most popular vehicles in Italy at the time.
In Italy, there was an acute requirement for a small, economical, and efficient vehicle to meet the transport needs of its citizens. Against this backdrop, the task fell upon Dante Giacosa, Fiat’s chief engineer, to design a vehicle that could develop an answer to Italy’s mobility needs.
The brilliance of Giacosa’s design was his ability to combine simplicity with efficiency. The Fiat 500, fondly nicknamed ‘Cinquecento’ in its homeland, was petite, measuring under 3 meters in length. Its compactness made it perfect for navigating the narrow, winding streets of Italian cities. However, Giacosa’s design magic ensured that the inside was deceptively spacious, accommodating four passengers with relative comfort.
Despite the small stature of the car, the Fiat 500 boasted a rear-mounted, air-cooled, 500cc (later 600cc) two-cylinder engine. It was not about power or speed, it was about efficiency and affordability. The car was easy to maintain and delivered commendable fuel efficiency, critical attributes for a continent recovering from the economic devastation of the war.
It wasn’t just the car’s efficiency that captured hearts. The Fiat 500’s design was a marvel of aesthetics. Its rounded features, minimalist dashboard, and canvas roll-back roof oozed charm. The car’s design became synonymous with Italian chic. Just like the Vespa became a symbol of two-wheeled freedom in Italy, the Fiat 500 came to represent four-wheeled independence.
As decades rolled on, the Fiat 500 underwent several design changes and iterations. While it retained its compact dimensions, its appearance adapted to the changing times. However, by the mid-1970s, production ceased as the market dynamics shifted.
The world hadn’t seen the last of the Fiat 500. Recognizing the timeless appeal of the original design, Fiat reintroduced a modern version of the 500 in 2007. This new version retained the charm of the original, combined with modern technology and features. The 21st century Fiat 500 catered to a new generation, while evoking nostalgia in those who remembered the original.
The 1970 Fiat 500 L With Trailer Shown Here
The car you see here is one of the later Fiat 500 L models, as noted above this was the luxurious version of the model and good examples are popular with collectors.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of this Fiat is its unusual trailer that was made using the front and back of a real 500. It now acts as a portable lockbox on wheels, allowing the main car to be used for more lengthy road trips with the luggage stored in the trailer.
This 500 L is finished in red with a black interior, it has chrome bumpers front and rear as well as chrome hub caps (as does the matching trailer), and it has the classic black fold-back sunroof that was the model’s only attempt at air conditioning.
Although it may not seem like it when you’re standing next to one, the Fiat 500 can accommodate four adults in relative comfort. It wasn’t really designed for this however, the rear seats were there to carry the kids while Mom and Dad sat up front.
Fiat 500s typically have a top speed around the 100 km/h (62 mph) mark, so they can generally keep up with traffic in most situations though they’re not particularly well-suited to prolonged motorway use.
The 500 L you see and its matching trailer are now due to cross the auction block with RM Sotheby’s on the 15th of September with a price guide of $28,000 – $33,500 USD.
It may not be a Ferrari, but it remains one of the most beloved Italian classics of all time, and thankfully they remain largely affordable.
If you’d like to read more about this car or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images: Peter Seabrook ©2023 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.