Classic Fiat 500 Buying Guide - The Most Comprehensive Guide to buy a Classic Fiat 500

Buying a vintage Fiat 500 is a great investment and can provide a unique driving experience. These tiny cars were popular in the 60s and 70s for their affordability, fuel efficiency and nimble handling, but finding a well-preserved one can be a challenge. Here are some things to look out for when buying a used classic Fiat 500 (1962-1973):

  • Body: it's important to check all the body panels for any signs of rust, especially at the bottom of the doors and around the wheel arches. Pay special attention to the condition of the rear hatch, as it's known to be a weak point for rust on some models.
  • Engine: The Fiat 500 was originally equipped with a two-cylinder air-cooled engine. Make sure the engine is free from oil leaks and starts easily.  In addition, here are some other areas of the engine to pay extra attention to:
    • Engine oil: Check the engine oil level and make sure it's clean and free from contaminants. If the oil looks dirty or has a milky appearance, it could be an indication of contamination, which can cause internal engine damage.
    • Engine timing: The Fiat 500's two-cylinder engine uses a timing chain to synchronize the movement of the crankshaft and camshaft. Make sure the timing chain is tight and not stretched, as a stretched timing chain can cause poor engine performance and damage to the valves and pistons.
    • Carburetor: The Fiat 500 was originally equipped with a Weber 26 (for the D and F) or Weber 28 (for the R) carburetor, which can be prone to wear and damage over time. Check the carburetor for any signs of leaks or cracks, and make sure it's clean and free from debris. Make sure the throttle cable and spring, situated on top of the cooling panel between the air filter and the carb, is working properly and that the engine idles smoothly.
    • Clutch and Transmission: Make sure the clutch engages and disengages smoothly, and that there's no slipping or grinding when shifting gears. Check the condition of the shift linkage and make sure it moves smoothly and without excessive play.
  • Suspension: The Fiat 500's small size and light weight make it a nimble car, but this also means the suspension is under a lot of stress. Check the condition of the shock absorbers and make sure they're not leaking. Check the condition of the front and rear suspension components, such as the control arms and ball joints, to make sure they're not worn or damaged.

  • Brakes: The Fiat 500's brakes are small, but they should still provide adequate stopping power. Make sure the brakes feel firm and responsive, and that the brake pedal doesn't feel spongy or soft. Check the condition of the brake drums and rotors for any signs of wear or damage. Check that there are no leaks of brake fluid that would have collected around the rims, as it could indicate the leakage of brake cylinders, which will often require a full brakes rebuild.
  • Electrical System: The Fiat 500's electrical system is relatively simple, but it's important to make sure all the components are working properly. Check the condition of the wiring and make sure there are no frayed wires or exposed connectors. In addition, make sure that you check the following:
    • Wiring: Check the condition of the wiring throughout the car, paying special attention to areas that are exposed to the elements, such as the engine bay and under the bulkhead. Look for any frayed wires or exposed connectors, which can cause electrical problems and even fire hazards. While you're there, make sure that the wiring around the fuse box is not damaged from overheating.
    • Headlamps and tail Lamps: Check that all the lights are working, including the headlights, taillights, and turn signals. Make sure the headlamps and tail lamps are not hazy or cloudy, and that the lenses are not cracked or damaged. Check that the indicator relay is working properly by using both indicators while the car is off.
    • Generator: The vintage Fiat 500 was originally equipped with a dynamo, which is responsible for charging the battery. Check the condition of the generator and make sure it's working properly. If the generator isn't working, the battery won't be charged and the car won't start.
    • Battery: Check the condition of the battery and make sure it's holding a charge. Make sure the battery terminals are clean and free from corrosion, and that the battery cable connections are secure.
    • Ignition System: Check the condition of the ignition system, including the distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs, and ignition wires. Make sure there's a strong spark at each spark plug, and that the engine starts easily and runs smoothly. Ensure that the condenser has been replaced recently with a good quality (Magneti Marelli) as it is a common point of failure.

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