Fiat 600. Strong concept, internationally loved

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Ask various car enthusiasts about a favorite Fiat model, and often you will hear the type name 500. Its popularity has risen to mythical proportions. However, the 600 served the ever-growing group of buyers who were able to afford a smaller car as early as 1955. It offered space for four people, who, thanks in part to the higher rear seats, could sit more spacious than the dimensions suggested in advance. The 600 (after experimenting with a 2-cylinder engine) eventually got the new water-cooled four-cylinder 633 cc engine in the rear. This ironclad Type 100 The engine concept would - in many forms and with various cylinder capacities - serve in various Fiat models until after the millennium change.

The engine did not come in the front, so front-wheel drive was also not available. Initially, Giacosa had in mind to equip the small car with front-wheel drive (also because of space savings). However, the affair became too costly. The Topolino successor therefore got the engine and wheel drive in the back. It did not prevent Giacosa and his followers from giving the Fiat 600 a harmonious and at the same time graceful design. The 600 was a hit, at home and abroad, although the 600 was initially a little too high in the price boom to entice masses of people, but gradually the popularity of the well-finished car, which also offered nice performance.

License building

Italian production stopped in 1969, but the 600 would be built under license until 1985. License construction started shortly after the Geneva introduction in March 1955. Italy soon produced the components of the 600 according to the CKD principle for Yugoslavia. There the 600 was assembled as Zastava. Later, the entire Zastava production took place in Kragujevac. The Fiat 600 was also built at Steyr in Austria, where it rolled off the production line as Steyr-Fiat 600. The Germans also knew what to do with the 600. At NSU in Heilbronn it was built as NSU Fiat 600 Jagst, NSU Fiat 770 Jagst and NSU Fiat Jagst 2. The Jagst 2, introduced in 1964 due to the use of forward-hinging doors, was later called Neckar Jagst 2. It was remarkable that the Jagst usually had less powerful engines than their (for example) Italian brothers. This was also due to insurance reasons (lower rate).

Fiat 770 S, the German customer remained king for a while

After Italian 600 production ceased, a tenacious group of 600 adepts insisted on continuing to produce the tiny Fiat. Certainly in West Germany a fanatic movement arose, which saw salvation in the continuation of the Fiat 600 saga. It was therefore good that SEAT continued to build the 600. Partly because of this, the German Fiat importer was able to keep the 600 on the program. The {German} lifespan of the model was extended and the 600 was sold there as Fiat 770 S. The type plate on the back also had this titel. Production stopped in 1973, also because the SEAT 600 was disconnected in Spain.

SEAT 600 extends Fiat 600 career in Benelux

Due to the Spanish production stop of the 600, the Dutch and Belgian careers for the Fiat 600 eventually came to an end, qua brand name at least. Until 1980, the car could still be bought as a technically identical (and slightly stripped-down) Zastava 750 and it was built in Kragujevac. The Zastava has been on the program in the low countries since 1970 and for many years it was one of the first cars to be found in the Dutch and Belgian price list. So it was on the list for some years next to the SEAT 600, which was sold as Fiat 1974 E by the Fiat importers from the low countries until the beginning of 600. Outwardly, there was no difference between the Fiat 600 E and the Fiat 770 S for West Germany. They were renamed SEAT 600 models. The 600 E and 770 S were therefore also recognizable by the bumper rosettes with rubber inlay and various decorative strips. These had disappeared with the last Italian Fiat 600 series (see below). Incidentally, what argued in favor of the Spanish-made 600 was that they were more resistant to rust, since the Spaniards used better sheet steel than the Italians. The 600 was also built and/or assembled on the other side of the world. That happened in Argentina and Colombia. In South America the car was called Fiat 600 R.

Bodywork variants

Incidentally, there were - and the enthusiast knows that of course - many other body styles based on the 600. The Multipla is of course known, and the minivans (600 T) were also based on the small Fiat. The Seat 800 was based on a four-door version. on Fiat 600 principle. Furthermore, the car and/or underlying technology were excellent for sporting adjustments, which led to impressive performances, especially under Abarth flag. below Abarth flag for example, the 750, the 850 TC (and related) and the 1000 TC, all based on the Fiat 600 body. And there were various body shops that gave their own interpretation to the 600 theme, whether or not in combination with sporty aspirations. A good example: The Abarth Record Monza simply descended from the Fiat 600. Zagato also signed the Double Bouble 750 GT. Finally, there were also several Italian coachbuilders, who all constructed coupés and convertible models in their own authentic way on the basis of the small success number.

Changed regularly, with character retention

From 1955, the 600 was regularly modified both cosmetically and technically. Until 1960, the 600 was revised three times, and from that year the 600 was renamed 600 D. Until May 1964, the 600 still had the suicide doors, with the doors hinged backwards under the B-pillar. From May 1964, the doors opened forward on the 600 D, thereby following a trend dictated by safety and legislation. The suicide doors increasingly disappeared from view around the middle of the years for these reasons. At a time when seat belts were not yet commonplace, rear-opening doors seemed dangerous. If these were to open (thanks to a gust of wind, for example), the front occupants ran the risk of falling out of the car. The new Fiat 850 of 1964 and the Fiat 500 also received the forward opening doors.

Suicide doors disappear in 1964

The doors hinged below the A-pillar were the main new feature of the fifth generation of the Fiat 600, which still closely resembled the debutant from March 1955. The May 1964 600 D got the same engine as the first 600 D of 1960: a 767 cc engine (Fiat 100 D, the 633 cc engine was called Fiat 100) with a power of 21.3 KW/29 HP. The speedy engine enabled the Fiat 600 D to reach a top speed of 110 kilometers per hour. Fiat also continued the ventilation windows in the front doors, which debuted with the first “D” of 1960. Compared to the last 600 D (also called Fanaloni, because of the larger headlights) made under the Fiat flag, this 600 D was still equipped with the whiskers on the front, continuous decorative strips on the front fenders and a double logo on the nose , with a decorative strip running over the middle of the boot lid.

Concept tenable for thirty years, goodbye in Yugoslavia

The arrival of the 850 in 1964 meant that Fiat gradually reduced the 1965 D optically from 600. Fiat no longer fitted bumper rosettes, and that also applied to various decorative strips. The six whiskers on the front also disappeared, as did the Fiat logo on the front of the luggage lid and several chrome strips. Also the 600 logo before disappeared; the Fiat logo took its place. The 600 production in Italy eventually ended in 1969, but as a concept the 600 lasted more than thirty years, and that was not for nothing. The cart was much more practical than expected, had excellent engines on board and was also elegantly and balanced designed. He retired as Zastava 18 on November 1985, 850 in Kragujevac, now Serbia. In total, the concept was built more than five million times. Half of them came from the original country of origin: Italy. In any case: the small Fiat, together with its derivatives, was a great success.


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A very early Fiat 600 and the 750 GT derived from it from Zagato
A very early Fiat 600 and the 750 GT derived from it from Zagato in the Museo Mille Miglia under Brescia
see through. The Fiat 600 was cleverly constructed but did not have front-wheel drive
see through. The Fiat 600 was cleverly constructed but did not have front-wheel drive
Beautiful 600 D Trasformabile model 1960 1964
Beautiful 600 D Traformabile from the late fifties
Fiat 600 D for the last Italian production years 1
Fiat 600 D for the last Italian production years, stripped of frills
Fiat 600 D for the last Italian production years 2
Fiat 600 D Trasformabile, still from the fifties
The 600 drove early from Calcutta to Rome
The 600 drove early from Calcutta to Rome
In fact the first MPV in the world the 600 Multipla
In fact the first MPV in the world the 600 Multipla
Based on the 600. The T concept also lasted a long time in various forms 1
Based on the 600. The T concept also lasted a long time in various forms 1
Seat 600 E. Available from 1969 as Fiat 600 E in Belgium and the Netherlands
Seat 600 E. Available from the end of 1969 as Fiat 600 E in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Germany he had Fiat 770 S
Fiat Abarth 850TC. A peppery cart with adapted technique
Fiat Abarth 850TC. A peppery cart with adapted technique
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  1. Driven to Italy in 1972 with fiat 600 and had a broken fan belt on the return journey on the German autobahn.
    My then young wife had to take off her tights to use them as an emergency and with this I was able to fit a new belt at the next gas station.
    With these kinds of repairs you could still do something yourself.
    Nowadays with all those Electronics it is almost impossible to do emergency repairs

  2. We, my (then) girlfriend Wilma and I, Peter, were able to take over the Fiat for 200 guilders in 1978. A new timing chain had to be fitted and the cyclone filter had to be cleaned. That was all. Oh yes, and another battery. In the (harsh) winter of 78/79 I drove it to my service station 't Harde (approx. 120 km) instead of with the motorcycle. Nice time, nice car. Traded in for a 2CV.

  3. Dear Erik,
    Another very nice article about a car that had many buyers in the past and which is now rarely seen. Good memories of the Circuit of Zandvoort, where the Arbathjes raced around with open hoods. And also at the MM you can always find a 600 Multipla with Trumpeteurs as crew and are ready to play at every nice point. Wonderful nostalgia.

  4. One of the teachers at the MULO had a Fiat 1971 in 500. I was able to overtake it with my Garelli moped. This was not so good for my grade list, haha

  5. The fiat 600 deserves more respect than the 500, together with my brother drove through 2 pieces, cross with those things, full throttle and then clutch in 1 go, those cast iron blocks at the rear wheel sometimes broke, or because of his engine in the back you steer quickly to the right and to the left again then the rear flips completely free of the ground, until you sent back too late then you lay on its side, you crawled out and pushed it upright again, battery broken? Just old truck battery in the front, which was also the luggage box, always started it, beautiful memories of very strong cars

  6. “Dwe 600 and the 850 were such icons that Mercedes and BMW made 12 cylinder versions of them as a tribute, you know”


  7. Tuned in 1965 with my Fiat 600 and with a raised tailgate a la Abarth! then a crack at the front, during which the “car” sank lower and lower, just before Le Bourget the leaf spring at the front was completely broken and it was lying on its nose, the necessary repair reduced our meager budget, so became a sandwich with donkey meat and sleeping under the open sky, we no longer had entrance to the show, because that was just enough for the return trip to Germany. ps the hand gas present was life-threatening

  8. Bought my first car for 1300 guilders. Unfortunately after 4 weeks put away again because he just wanted lung damage. Right drive shaft rose 2 cm per revolution

    • Lucky & Brooch!! My 'Jewish' neighbor had one of those. While driving, she looked between the steering wheel and the top of the dashboard at the road. She was so small in stature that she almost had to get behind the wheel. And turn that wheel underhand, huh. Once in those 600 with her. I was healed right away. I was about 10 years old, but life wasn't enough yet. I remember it exactly. It was on the road from Hengelo to Goor. I drove home with her after a visit to my mother, who was then in hospital in Hengelo. You had a traffic light there, close to a factory called 'Servo'. From a distance it was still green, so she accelerated, because just imagine that light would turn red. With a rotten gait of well over 100, we came with that Fiat at that traffic light. 10 meters before the finish the light turned orange. She gave it some gas but then suddenly hit the brakes full. The wheels locked, the car skidded and I was launched from my seat and hit the windshield with my head. Her teeth, with one gold tooth, flew out of her mouth and smashed into pieces on the dashboard. The engine roared like crazy because she forgot to take the foot off the throttle. We were crooked on the road but nothing else was wrong. She was a spirited woman, had experienced something different in the war. Almost the entire family gassed in that fucking country a little further up. "Are you okay Eric?" she said. All was well with me. She put the car in its one and the journey continued. Never thought about this hilarious incident again until I read this piece in the AMK. Waar voor tribute!!

  9. Nice things, even then. A family with 2 or 3 children fit! I've never owned one but have rented one in Spain a few times. To use a “Dolf” word, I just petted a Fiat 500! It was a real one, so we were able to sit in it in the past.
    Thank you for putting the 600 in the spotlight.

  10. I have always thought it was a beautifully lined car, more beautiful than the 500 and with a top of 120 you could also follow the traffic, in contrast to the 500 that reached full throttle max 100.
    I remember the Belgian prices well from the early 80s
    65.000 fr for a Zastava 750 (Fiat 600), 72.000 fr for a Skoda 105 and 79.000 fr (just under 2000 euros) for a Lada 1200 (Fiat 124). My net monthly income was then 42.000 fr.
    Back then you still had plenty of choice to still be able to drive to work with little money for a new car.

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