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Chassis no. 306125 - Engine no. 308619
Coachbuilder: Fiat
Categories: E- Historic event cars
Owner: Private Collection
A little Topolino facing the Mille Miglia. The car ran the 1952 Mille Miglia, ranking 192nd and the 1952 Coppa della Toscana, ranking 102nd.
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The little “Topolino” is one of the most reknown and iconic car, even beyond the cars’ world. Born in 1930s’, it was the vehicle of the Italian renaissance before that the postwar new models hit the roads. It’s the car that brought Italy from two wheels (with or without an engine) to four, it was a car meant to be essential and cheap, but it seems that anyone wanted to race it. The origins of the car are quite adventurous, in 1930 Benito Mussolini talked to Giovanni Agnelli, senator of the kingdom, about the imperative need of a low-cost car for the masses. It was a good idea for the “propaganda”, followed by the Germany of Adolf Hitler, where Ferdinand Porsche was suddenly called to build the Volkswagen, “the car for the people”. As the car should cost less than Lit. 5000, the task was arduous. Two teams in FIAT were assigned to the project, with opposite ideas: one had to think with traditional FIAT schemes, saving and minimizing, the other team was free to experiment the ideas of the young engineer Oreste Lardone: a four-seater, front-wheel-drive with a 500cc air cooled twin cylinder. Sadly, the innovative ideas were unlucky, as the prototype went on fire at the first road test, while Giovanni Agnelli himself was onboard. Agnelli decided to go the old way from now on. While the FIAT chief designers Antonio Fessia e Tranquillo Zerbi were maybe endorsing Lardone’s ideas, in October 1932 the “Duce”, visiting the factory, pressed Agnelli again. That’s why Fessia turned the task to a young engineer he believed to be the right man for the job: Dante Giacosa. He scaled down the previous Balilla project, simplifying anything, as the cooling and the structure of the engine, while the body lines were inspired by the FIAT 1500 with a smooth bonnet, good for airflow and visibility. The aeronautical experience of Giacosa inspired the lightened double rails chassis with the engine, a 569cc, 4 cylinder side-valve, cantilever mounted, to improve space inside. The prototypes had successful tests. Even before going into production, everyone named the car the “Topolino”, part for the size, part from the mouse-alike front, resembling the successful Walt Disney’s character Mickey Mouse (Topolino, in Italy). Howewer, the official name was FIAT 500, in order to comply with autarchy rules. The car was presented in June 10, 1936 at Villa Torlonia, and the price was of Lit. 8.900, higher than the goal of Lit. 5.000 and really high for a common worker, but the car sold anyway.
The car evolved in the years. The first cars were saloon and saloon convertibles, a panel van was meant mainly for the army. In 1938 the first technical changing: the “quarter” rear leafsprings (the so called “balestrino” or “balestra corta”) became standard half leafspings to improve the carrying capacity. FIAT 500 until 1948 are now called “500A”.
In 1948 the car saw mayor changing with the “500B” model, the engine gained a new OHV head, some improvements were made in the chassis and a new heater appeared. Most of all, a new version was disposable, the “Giardiniera Belvedere”, a little woody wagon, halfway and half the size of the Viotti Giardinetta and the big U.S. Station Wagons.
In 1949 the last changing with the “500C” model. The front part of the body assumed more modern shapes, the engine had an aluminum heads. The “Giardiniera Belvedere” became “metallica” replacing the glamorous wooden side panels with metallic parts, stamped with a pattern of different colors, recalling the woody-look without inheriting its structural problems. This was the most successful of all the Topolino versions ever sold.
The Topolino was also produced abroad, under license, the most reknown being the French Simca version. The Topolino was also the basis for the world of crafts and small industry in postwar Italy. From these small realities came classy low production cars like the Siata Amica convertibles or one-off “fuoriserie”, but also vehicles derivated for commercial purposes. The Topolino, anyway, was often modified, from mildly to radically, for the races. Workshop, body shops, small factories and artisans built their ultimate version. Some just cut the roof, someone else built barchetta roadsters on tubular chassis, while the engine grew up to the 750 cc category limit to the most possible power. The production lasted until 1954 for the saloon, substituted from the FIAT 600, and until 1955 for the Giardiniera. Nearly 520,000 cars were produced throughout his career.

1951 Fiat 500C, chassis 306125 ran the 1952 Mille Miglia, ranking 192nd and the 1952 Coppa della Toscana, ranking 102nd. In both the races with Vivaldo Angeli driver and Silvano Cai co-driver. Vivaldo Angeli was a competitive private that drove the Mille Miglia four times in 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1957.
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history - owners & events
3rd May 1952 - 4th May 1952
Mille Miglia
| Brescia-Roma-Brescia | Italy
driver: Vivaldo Angeli
co-driver: Silvano Cai
entry number: 34
1st June 1952
Coppa della Toscana
| Italy
driver: Vivaldo Angeli
co-driver: Silvano Cai
entry number: 846
22nd May 2017
2017: 90 anni, 1000 Miglia
| Brescia | Italy

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