Fiat 500 (Cinquecento)
June 9, 2005 6:59 PM   Subscribe

I was offered a Fiat 500, 1971, good condition for $6,000 (USD) (more inside)
posted by snsranch to Shopping (17 answers total)
It's for my wife. She only has to drive about two miles a day. It's registered in California and is smog exempt (1971). I've googled for about an hour and have found nothing from here in the U.S. to gage the price. Any ideas? I used to live in Italy , and I love those little cars!
posted by snsranch at 7:02 PM on June 9, 2005

sorry to derail, but there's a "more inside" option for questions now, no need to use the first comment up.
posted by puke & cry at 7:23 PM on June 9, 2005

EBay motors has a few listed at prices a bit lower than that (with the exception of the "Jolly" model that seems to be pretty rare). I'm not sure how to link to the search results, but enter Fiat 500 in the box, hit enter, and then select "Passenger Vehicles" under matching categories and you should see a list of them.
posted by Zonker at 7:26 PM on June 9, 2005

Hmm, 1971 is a bit old for the Kelley's Blue Book.
As Zonker suggested, looking at eBay might help. Going through their already completed auctions turned up a 1969 Fiat 500L which sold for $9500 and a 1970 Fiat 500L which sold for $5500.

There are a wide range of prices for current offerings on eBay, but all of these are just current bids. Bidding price usually gets a big jump during the last hour. Try comparing the condition of those two already finished auctions to the car you're thinking of buying.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 7:42 PM on June 9, 2005

I know nothing about cars, but I got me some google-fu skills...

If you're in Yorkshire, apparently the price might be somewhere between 2800 GBPs and 3400 GBPs, or somewhere between 5 and 6 grand USD...

Or you could get one of these for about 5500 GPBs...

But in Toronto, there's a 500 from 1973 for sale for 2900 Canuck Bucks which would only set you back 2300 USDs...

Not that any of that really helps...
posted by incessant at 7:43 PM on June 9, 2005

I have a friend who is a Fiat collector. His advice is to always buy two, one to drive and one for a parts car. He has pretty much dedicated every weekend to keeping his main one running, and even then it breaks down sometimes while driving around town. I love driving the Fiat, but I would stay away from them unless you love to fix cars.
posted by rajbot at 7:49 PM on June 9, 2005

Ok, folks, you are the best! I'm going to try to seal the deal tommorow!
posted by snsranch at 8:12 PM on June 9, 2005

Just so you know, FIAT stands for Fix it again, Tony. Not sure if a car with 18HP is a good everyday driver, nor do you want your wife stuck calling a tow truck? Even the oldest VW bug with the smallest engine has 36 horsepower. ..just sayin. Kind of a cool car otherwise.
posted by vaportrail at 9:00 PM on June 9, 2005

You aren't thinking of the Fiat as dependable transport, are you? A fun ride, but not a reliable ride, nor very safe.

The price is probably good if the condition really is good -- interior, rubber seals, engine, shocks, gearbox, no body rust at all, etc etc etc

We have a Vanagon Westie -- a lovelybus but also a reminder of how complex a car really is, how many parts there are to wear out! The most recent disintegration is the rubber around the windows, cracking and falling out from age, and ours is ten years younger (and made by VW not FixItAgainTony (thanks for that vaportrail!))

Buy it, with your eyes open and your pocket full.

There was a bubble-car rally here a few months ago, and tiny cars sure are cute.
posted by anadem at 9:49 PM on June 9, 2005

You can get a nice Honda Accord or Toyota Corolla for that price. Possibly even an '00.

The 500 is a cool little car, though.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:21 PM on June 9, 2005

I've always heard it stands for Fix It Again Today or Feeble, Inept Attempt at Transportation.
I had a friend who had a Fiat and we spent a good deal of time stranded along the side of the road tinkering with it, or being towed from wherever it broke down to his garage which actually had a pit so he could work on it more easily. Don't do it unless you really LIKE fixing cars and searching around for used parts. It's more of a lifestyle than a mode of transportation.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:02 PM on June 9, 2005

Another piece of anecdotal evidence for FIATs being unreliable: a friend had one but had to keep in storage for the better part of every year, since he was always waiting for obscure parts to be shipped to him from Italy. He wound up taking the bus a lot.

That doesn't specifically ask your question, but it sort of does.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:17 PM on June 9, 2005

Bah -- my opinion will run counter to most everyone else. If she only drives 2 miles a day it's so not a big deal. Believe it or not, Fiat 500s are actually really reliable cars. They're incredibly simple to work on (there are like 7.5 moving parts in total) so you should really REALLY keep up with the maintenance yourself (keeping the engine and electrical parts, etc. clean is key with old Italian cars). Though finding some parts might be a bitch, you do have places like International Auto Parts and DiFatta Brothers who are more than happy to help you.

$6k is maybe a bit on the high side, but if it's in excellent condition, worth it. Definitely take some pictures if and when you buy it! Best of luck.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 1:14 AM on June 10, 2005

The Ciquecento is one of those few, rare cars that make me passionate about automobiles. Sure, you could say that about a half dozen Ferraris over the ages, the Miura, the Elan, the original 300SL... but this is the kind of passion the (original) Beetle and the (original) Mini Cooper get going (maybe a late '80s Vanagon Synchromesh too... not so small, but hyperefficient in its own beautiful way). The Cinq can be parallel parked perpendicular to other cars, a la today's Smart.

For the city, it's genius. And lazywhiner is spot on... a couple miles a day does nothing to a Cinq. Plus, the engineering couldn't be simpler... it's like a learner's model for doing just about anything yourself. But, and a big 'but' it is, as other's have pointed out it only makes sense if you happen to have a spare on hand to cannibalize for parts.

If you 'just' want cheap and bulletproof, there is only one choice on Earth that makes sense... the Toyota Corolla. As brilliant as it may be at those exceptional qualities of 'cheap' and 'bulletproof', though, it doesn't really stir the soul. Still, for 99.9% of people, a car is about getting from point A to B without problems, which is as it should be. Think hard before buying the 500, but if it was me under the circumstances you've described, I'd do it.

Just not for $6000. The whole point of the 500, aside from being small, is that it doesn't cost much more than a good bicycle (and quite a bit less than some finer Italian bicycles). I know 6 grand isn't much these days, but it still makes me cringe to put that figure next to a Cinquecente. I honestly couldn't see past paying $4,000, and that for a cherry model. And I love the car. Haggle, man, haggle.
posted by the_savage_mind at 1:28 AM on June 10, 2005

I don't know anything about Fiat 500s, but on the issue of price, I looked on Collector Car Trader Online and there were three listings for $8500 and up. All claimed to be completely restored. They were a '69 and two '70s. If you go to the Web site, just click on the Buy button near the top left to begin searching.
posted by Slothrop at 5:37 AM on June 10, 2005

I think that $6k is too much. Unless by good condition you mean all original mint or some such. I think $4500 or even $4000 is more reasonable. I know a mid-70s Cinq sold in Atlanta recently fetched $3500. I don't know much about their "daily driveability" but I do know that the gas tank is located directly in front of the driver -- it's basically sitting on your lap. But for 2 miles per day, and on small arteries only, it should be pretty safe... The cinq vs the corrolla -- man what a quandry. It's like be cool or be smart.
posted by zpousman at 9:28 AM on June 10, 2005

$6k is also $1000 less than I just paid for a very nice '96 Mercedes C280 Sport. With leather, CD changer, A/C, etc.

If you love the car and money doesn't matter much to you, go for it. My mercedes is far from unique, but the A/C is very comfortable in the LA heat.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:06 PM on June 10, 2005

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