Minia­ture Mar­vels

The Fiat 500 is cel­e­brat­ing its 60th an­niver­sary this month – is any clas­sic car loved more than the baby Ital­ian? Well, how about the Mini? Nick Larkin puts the two head to head

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

Fiat 500 V Mini

Two of the small­est mass pro­duc­tion cars ever made were born out of ne­ces­sity. Not to be cud­dly and ap­peal­ing, but to max­imise in­te­rior space and use min­i­mal fuel. They may have charmed mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions for gen­er­a­tions, but Fiat’s 500 BMC’s bounc­ing baby Mini were both in­tro­duced in the sec­ond half of the 1950s as ve­hi­cles for the fru­gal.

How­ever, th­ese cars crossed ev­ery so­cial di­vide, much to the sur­prise of their re­spec­tive mak­ers, with even top celebri­ties want­ing to be as­so­ci­ated with them. They sold in the mil­lions.

The Fiat 500 was in­tended to mo­bilise post­war Italy – no lofty as­pi­ra­tions there then – and re­move a sig­nif­i­cant sec­tion of the pop­u­lace from de­pen­dence on scoot­ers.

The Mini, in­tro­duced in 1959, two years af­ter the Fiat, stemmed from the 1956 Suez Cri­sis, which led to petrol be­ing ra­tioned and spawned mi­cro­cars that made a Raleigh bi­cy­cle seem like the height of lux­ury.

Be­fore we take the Mini and Fiat 500 apart, fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing, and try to pick a win­ner, two im­por­tant facts must be re­mem­bered. Each car is an en­gi­neer­ing mar­vel mas­ter­minded by a bril­liant de­signer, and each has char­ac­ter in spades. Both have their short­com­ings, of course, but we love them none­the­less.

Now, start your en­gines!

Mini can cruise com­fort­ably, if a lit­tle nois­ily, at 60mph, and its rub­ber cone sus­pen­sion of­fers ex­cel­lent road­hold­ing. The Mini of­fers truly amaz­ing in­te­rior ca­pac­ity – it’s can gen­uinely seat four adults. BMc a-se­ries en­gine pow­ered all Mi­nis in as­sorted states of tune and cu­bic ca­pac­ity. in­te­rior is best de­scribed as ‘util­i­tar­ian chic’. it’s re­ally only an oc­ca­sional four-seater. Tiny air-cooled twin (even­tu­ally en­larged to 499cc) is a rugged and re­li­able unit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.