Fiat 500 Abarth 595 recre­ation (p133), Alvis TD21 (p134), Range Rover (p137), Jaguar E-type V12 (p118)

Con­verted to Abarth-spec in Italy and wear­ing fresh paint, this fran­tic lit­tle buzz-bomb is a blast to drive, says Mike Le Caplain

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents -

This might look like a bona fide Fiat 500 Abarth 595 but it ac­tu­ally started life as a hum­ble 500L. It was con­verted to Abarth spec – 594cc en­gine, non- syn­chro­mesh four- speed man­ual gear­box – in Italy, but there is no in­for­ma­tion within the scant his­tory file as to when this hap­pened. The car’s pre­vi­ous owner im­ported it in Fe­bru­ary 2016 be­fore hav­ing it re­painted and fit­ting the smart Mugello al­loy wheels.

The body­work is per­fect, though the driver’s door sits proud of the sur­round­ing body­work at the top (the pas­sen­ger door fits fine). There’s a small ver­ti­cal scratch in the glass, plus an­other in the rear win­dow. It takes a keen eye to spot the hand­ful of paint blem­ishes, in­clud­ing a small chip and crack in the paint to the lower rear of the near­side front whee­larch, an­other crack in the off­side rear wing body seam and a tiny scratch be­neath the driver’s door mir­ror.

Chrome is mostly im­mac­u­late, though there are a cou­ple of marks on the rear win­dow chrome sur­round and mi­nor speck­ling to the top of the rear bumper and rear num­ber­plate light hous­ing. The wheels are un­marked and shod with thickly treaded Hankook Cen­tum K702 145/70 R 12 tyres. We couldn’t check the spare be­cause it lives in the front boot and the re­lease ca­ble had come adrift. The ex­haust fin­ish­ers look new but the ex­haust it­self, while com­pletely un­dam­aged, is rather pit­ted.

Lift­ing the rear lid re­veals an Abarth- spec en­gine that’s hon­est rather than con­cours, sit­ting in a clean and re­cently painted en­gine bay and set off by a scar­let-painted block. Rub­ber pipes and belts look new, like­wise the dis­trib­u­tor, the wires are sound and neatly routed and there’s no sign of any leaks. Oil is clean, golden and to max­i­mum.

The in­te­rior is dom­i­nated by a three- spoke woodrim steer­ing wheel and new-look­ing seat cov­ers and car­pets. The red quilted rear head­lin­ing and open­ing fab­ric roof look new too, though the lat­ter’s fas­ten­ers are lightly cor­roded. Veglia in­stru­ments are lim­ited to a rev counter (red­lined at a suit­ably scream­ing 6000rpm) and speedome­ter that’s cal­i­brated in km/h. Nig­gles are lim­ited to a loose driver’s door pull han­dle and a baggy pas­sen­ger sun vi­sor.

The en­gine fires in­stantly with a char­ac­ter­is­tic me­tal­lic rat­tle and set­tles to a 1000rpm idle with no un­to­ward ex­haust smoke. It’s a riot to drive, with a fan­tas­tic sym­phony of pops, spits and crack­les on the over­run, though the beau­ti­fully tight non-syn­chro­mesh gear­box re­quires deft dou­ble- de­clutch­ing to avoid graunch­ing. Han­dling is nim­ble and steer­ing im­me­di­ate – it’s a proper lit­tle sports car.

Price seems fair – Sil­ver­stone Auc­tions sold a sim­i­lar recre­ation at its Restora­tion Show sale in 2015 for £15,750.

500 was re­sprayed and fit­ted with new al­loy wheels in early 2016

Re­painted en­gine bay lifted by scar­let block

New-look­ing seat cov­ers and car­pets in com­pact in­te­rior

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