FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

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?

Rusty baby

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

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