Carlos Abarth chose a scorpion for the logo of his namesake company, a nod to his astrological sign. In keeping with that arachnid’s physiognomy, today’s Nice Price or No Dice Fiat 600 packs some Abarth-inspired sting in its backend too. Let’s see how much its price might just sting.
There’s this old TV show called The Six Million Dollar Man in which an astronaut gets messed up at the show’s outset in a big-time spaceplane crash. This requires the TV doctors and scientists to robocop-him back together, making him stronger, faster — and squintier with his bionic eye. The cost of all that work was, as you guessed, $6 million. After getting patched up, the Six Million Dollar Man went on to work as a super-spy. This was most likely to pay off the horrific hospital bills.
One hopes that yesterday’s project 1973 Porsche 914 would not require quite such an investment to bring it back to fighting form. Of course, should someone take on that task, that Porsche would totally make a cool secret agent ride.
That’s unlikely to happen, however, as fully 64 percent of you dunned the car’s $2,350 asking price. According to the comments, it wasn’t that the price was too much, it was that the car was too little, with the missing bits and rust-pocked under-body ensuring even bigger holes to come in a new owner’s wallet.
I guess that most of us are of the mind that the starting point for any refurbishment or mods should always be cars that offer a solid starting points. Today’s 1962 Fiat 600 looks to be just such a solid base. And it’s had enough performance and appearance upgrades completed to — in the seller’s opinion, at least— classify it as an Abarth.
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: This is not an Abarth. It does have some Abarth parts, and with its four-wheel disc brakes and upgraded engine, it certainly pays homage to the concept. But still, this is a Fiat 600, not an Abarth.
That’s not to damn the car with faint praise. This is a fine-looking 600, and the updates are sensible and seemingly period-correct. This is also an early 600, so it has the suicide doors. That puts it in such rarified company as Rolls-Royce and those 160 or so really expensive Lincoln Continentals that Ford built over the last couple of years.
Along with those cool doors comes a fabric sunroof that opens wide as well as some lovely little 13-inch Cromodora magnesium wheels. The color combo of the single-stage blue with a red top is cheeky, as is the diamond-tufted red-and-white interior. While you’re poking around in there, you’ll likely to also notice the Abarth-badged steering wheel and like-decorated floor mats.
Power comes from a punched-out 930cc OHV four-cylinder in the back. That’s been imbued with a two-barrel Weber carburetor and Abarth-inspired header and exhaust. The clutch disc has been upgraded to an Abarth unit with a later 850 pressure plate on the original 600 flywheel. A hood-latch extender keeps the lid ajar for improved cooling but not apparently because the engine pokes out too far.
Other upgrades on the car include a coil-over suspension, a dual-circuit braking system and an update from a generator to an alternator to tax all that old wiring. All-in-all, this car should be a hoot and a half to drive.
Now it should be noted that this is not this Fiat’s first rodeo. It’s been around on the classic-car classifieds for half a decade or more. It shows up every now and then with a few more tweaks and a new rust bubble here or there. That rust appears to be most significant around the rear wheel arches and, like that suspicious mole on your thigh, should definitely be looked at before it does some real damage.
The undercarriage shots appear to indicate that the creeping crud hasn’t made its way into anything structural yet. According to the ad, the car was last restored about 7 years ago so it’s perhaps time for a refresh. Fortunately, this car’s needs are fewer than those of yesterday’s Porsche.
To address those needs — which is really just the surface rust and ensuing re-paint — you’ll need to come up with $10,700. Interestingly, that seems to be a substantial drop from the car’s last outing on the used-car circuit and half-again lower than the time before that. Will it fall even further in the future? That’s a consideration you’ll have to take into account while determining this car’s fate. I’ll leave you to it.
What do you say, is this cool old Fiat worth that $10,700 asking? Or, does that price make you want to a-barf?
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