Auto NewsWheeler Dealers restore a brilliant Italian classic

Wheeler Dealers restore a brilliant Italian classic

Mike couldn’t resist the charming Fiat 600, but had he bought a good one? And could the boys turn it into something special?

It’s been fourteen years since the cute little Fiat 500 was in the Wheeler Dealers workshop, but now it was time for that car’s older, bigger brother. Mike had long admired these great pieces of Italian design, and now he had his eye on the lovely Fiat 600. With an asking price of £5750 was it the perfect Italian machine?

Imported from southern Italy and not yet registered for UK roads, the short test drive revealed an engine that wasn’t running all that well. The paint wasn’t great, either, and the interior trim needed some attention. But it had plenty of potential, and after snapping it up for £5000 it was time to see what Elvis thought.

Fortunately he was as charmed by the car as Mike had been, and had a few ideas about the restoration including a change of colour. So with the car in the workshop that was where work began, Elvis cracking on with stripping down the little Fiat; there was plenty to do, removing the engine, interior, doors, boot lid, exterior trim…

Next up was getting the body shell back to bare metal, Mike choosing soda blasting to remove all of the old paint and any surface rust. It took a specialist a few days to complete the job, but with the car back at the workshop the ace mechanic could see that one of the sills had a few holes. Cutting out the frilly metal and welding in fresh steel didn’t take long.

And while this was happening Mike headed off to see Tristan at the Tiny Car Company in Essex. New seat covers were needed to replace the tired originals, plus a fresh colour was required – in green and cream, they looked superb and fitting them to the seats was a straightforward job. At £350 it was a bit of a bargain, too.

That new interior would perfectly complement the fresh paint, Mike and Elvis choosing ‘Verde Chiaro’ – or mint green if you prefer. Just as with any respray hours of preparation were needed to make the body perfect, but with Elvis borrowing the use of a paint booth from his mate, Kev, the finished job looked superb.

Fiat 600 Wheeler Dealers

There was still plenty to do when it came to rebuilding the car, but we shouldn’t forget a bit of mechanical work. The engine was serviced and fitted with plenty of new parts, including a clutch, water pump, drive belts and lots more. It was also given a fresh lick of paint, but thanks to Elvis identifying a problem with the electrics – he replaced both the regulator and dynamo – the tiny motor now ran sweetly.

Once everything was refitted and the look finished off with a stylish roof rack, the brilliant Fiat 600 was done. It owed the boys almost £8500, but before getting it sold there was time to give ‘Luigi’ a test drive. Did they enjoy it? How could they not with a car this charming.

Wheeler Dealers restore a brilliant Italian classic

Mike thought he was being a bit cheeky asking £11,000 for the Fiat, and when buyer, Christine, offered £10,000 he was quick to do the deal. It might have been a small car but it had certainly provided big smiles for the wheeler dealers.

The little Fiat 600 was such a joy to do, they are often overlooked for the more popular brother Fiat 500, however, I think they offer much more usability with the water cooled engine.

Mike said: “I knew that this little 600 would need restoration from tip to toe, and I knew Elvis would love to jump in and do the best we possibly could, as he is a super fan of these little cars. I think we nailed it and it certainly put a smile on all of our faces every day when we turned up to the workshop to tackle the problems in front of us. The drive at the end was also a big highlight, Llandudno North Wales is beautiful and certainly gave us a flavour of the Italian roads this car would have lived on.”

Wheeler Dealers Fiat 600

Find more info:
Discovery UK – Wheeler Dealers

Join the Club:
Fiat Motor Club (G.B.) & Fiat Panda Club

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