It was Roger Bourne’s infatuation with scooters that led to his eventually owning this beautifully restored Fiat. He’d attended university in Christchurch during the early 1990s, and his passion for classic scooters back then, especially Vespas, flourished to the point at which he literally ended up with a shed-full of them. Vespas were plentiful at the time, and, best of all — for a university student, anyway — they were affordable.
But the iconic Italian scooters ignited a broader interest in Italian vehicles, and, before he knew it, he’d graduated to four wheels, owning a succession of old Fiats and Lancias while still at university. But the one car he always wanted eluded him — though, to this day, he isn’t entirely sure why he never owned a Fiat Bambina during his student days. What he does recall is a spike in Bambina prices at that time, as good ones were snapped up and sent to Japan — perhaps that was partly to blame for Roger missing out?
Fast forward to 2011, and Roger’s love of Italian motorbikes and scooters, while still present and correct, had been temporarily put aside as a young family called for more practical vehicles. Heavily involved in an imminent house restoration, a few years earlier, he’d passed up the opportunity to buy back a 1953 Fiat 1100. Roger bitterly regretted that decision, but once the renovation was finished, he started to look around for a similar project.
With limited garage space, a Fiat Bambina seemed like the logical choice, as he likened it to a motorbike, with the added advantage that the kids could fit in the back seat to go for a drive for an ice cream.
Roger’s search quickly uncovered a 1963 ‘D’ model Fiat Bambina with suicide doors on a local auction site. He knew that these cars didn’t come on the market too often, and, as it was in another city, he bought it sight unseen. A friend did, however, check out the car on
The very first Nuova 500s officially arrived on our shores almost two years to the day following the model’s Italian launch, and, by the end of 1960, in a move to increase the range of cars available here, 500Ds were soon being locally assembled at the Volkswagen Motors Otahuhu plant. Before long, 800 examples were being built a year, and, with its low price and high local content, those in control of assembling the diminutive Bambina played a pivotal role in changing the regulations that bound together the local motor industry. With the Fiat’s increasing popularity in New Zealand, especially among lady drivers, Torino Motors decided to offer a Bambina as a prize for the 1966 Miss New Zealand pageant — the car eventually being won by Heather Gettings. A Bambina