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All about the department that champions the historic heritage of Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia and Abarth.
The history of our cars and our brands
People’s passion for classic and vintage cars has no borders, but there are certain places at a definite point in space, and suspended in time, which conserve the essence of this passion. Places like Heritage.
Centro Storico Fiat
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Como (IT) |
25 - 26 may 2024
Fuoriconcorso 2024
Stellantis Heritage takes center stage at prestigious “FuoriConcorso” event
Bologna (IT) |
26-29 October 2023
Auto e Moto d’Epoca 2023
Stellantis Heritage features at the salone Auto e Moto d’Epoca.
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We describe a century of technology, style, competition and performance. We tell our story, and yours.
Last Stories:
Some connections lead to great stories.
Lancia D24 Spider Sport
The successes of Scuderia Lancia
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint
Italy’s sweetheart.
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Last News:
Turin, 12 April 2024
Heritage pays tribute to the history of Abarth with two special projects
A temporary exhibition and the announcement of the Abarth Classiche 1300 OT project.
17th November 2023
Stellantis Heritage at Milano AutoClassica
The debut of Fiat Multipla 6x6 and tribute to Autodelta
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The history of four world-leading Italian motoring brands
From the most emblematic models to the most successful, revolutionary people, and the most significant events, this section illustrates and celebrates the cornerstones of Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia and Abarth.
From now on, you and your passion can count on a team of experts
Certificate of Origin, Certification of Authenticity, restoration. To guarantee your car's timeless charm.
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Cars for sale
Reloaded by creators is the Heritage project involving the sale of a small number of classic cars from the Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia and Abarth brands: historic models, with certified authenticity, restored to their original beauty by the Constructor itself.

Fiat 600

The ideal family car

Tasked with putting Italy on the road, together with the New 500 the Fiat 600 paved the way for one of the most radical changes in the last century. It replaced the 500 "Topolino" very efficiently, becoming the ideal car for families during the demographic boom.

The Fiat 500, better known as the “Topolino” (‘Mickey Mouse’), was created in 1936 between the two world wars, and began to show its limits after World War. From the late 1940s onwards, Fiat management – then in the hands of Vittorio Valletta – pushed for a viable replacement. The final series of the Topolino (especially the “Giardiniera” version) remains a success, to be exact for its greater spaciousness. Precisely that was the path to take to design a new car the actual task of which was to get Italy on the road, to realise the project that the 500 only could in part, mainly due to World War 2.

The task was entrusted to Dante Giacosa, already the ‘father’ of the Topolino. With few resources, he went on to create something that would quickly prove a veritable miracle in terms of both the product and its commercial success. 

The experience of the three Topolino series shows the extent to which a conventional architecture, with front engine and rear-wheel drive, is limited in providing compact cars with the best compromise between external dimensions and interior spaces: to make the most of it, the engine and traction must either be “all-forward” or “all-rear”, solutions that also result in savings in terms of materials, weight and therefore also the cost. The former hypothesis, however, presented several technical unknowns, primarily the need for the wheels to both drive and steer the car. It would take a few more decades for the Turin-based company to make the big leap.

Technical and economic reasons led Giacosa's team to embrace the “all-rear” solution. The all-new engine became known as the Tipo 100: straight-four, overhead valves controlled by rods and rocker arms powered by a chain-driven side camshaft, Weber 22 carburettor, water cooler on the right side of the engine forcibly cooled by a fan with conveyor keyed on the water pump, two V-belts to power the dynamo and then the pump/fan assembly. A four-speed gearbox, synchronised apart from first. The engine was in a longitudinal “cantilevered” position behind the rear axle, with the gearbox therefore facing the passenger compartment. Displacement of 633 cc, 21.5 hp at 4,600 rpm.

With no traditional frame, the body was load-bearing and the chassis was cheap but effective for its time, thanks to the use of four independent suspension systems: coil springs at the rear with oscillating drive shafts and a transverse leaf spring at the front that also acted as a stabiliser bar, with four hydraulic shock absorbers to complete the architecture.

The shapes of the bodywork were rounded, in the first prototype the headlights were positioned on the front bonnet, then, for the sake of simplicity and more, transferred to the fenders surmounted by two sleek gems in alluminiumwith the turn signals. Under the front bonnet were the petrol tank, spare wheel, tool bag and space for parcels and briefcases. The two rear-hinged doors were fitted with three-part windows: the front and central parts could mutually slide,  lengthwise, while the smaller remaining portion, in plexiglass, could open vertically inwards as a deflector. The passenger compartment offered two front seats and a rear bench, for a total of four seats. There was luggage space behind the backrest which, once folded down, could create a large load compartment by sacrificing the two rear seats.

The lack of a front radiator left room for creativity: six chrome whiskers with the horn hole in the middle, circular frames and the small 600 lettering, with the Fiat logo located on the bonnet preceding an additional chrome profile on the rib running lengthwise. The silhouette featured a slightly sloping windshield to begin the continuous line of the roof, descending in a precise arc in the rear to the end of the body. Only a slight bulge hinted at the rear fenders on the sides.

Unveiled at the 1955 Geneva Motor Show, the Fiat 600 was an immediate success: it had two more seats, was faster and snappier than the 500 C Belvedere and also cost less. It was joined by the versatile Multipla version and evolved over the years, remaining in production in Italy until 1969 and well beyond abroad, reaching a total of almost 5 million units.

Its public debut took place at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1955. The new Fiat 600 cost less than the its predecessor, the “Topolino”, although it had two more seats and more modern lines. The more powerful engine made it much more agile and snappy, the top speed was 95 km/h, whereas the efficient chassis let it carefully follow the roughness of the roads at the time, which were not all yet paved, as well as its outstanding cornering. It was an immediate success and orders poured in, so much so that Mirafiori – despite the fast pace of production – built up a waiting list that could even be longer than a year.

Under 12 months from its launch, at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1956 Giacosa’s team proposed an astonishing and eccentric variant: the Fiat 600 Multipla, a forerunner of multi-passenger cars that could carry up to six people. From the taxi versions to those for professional use, the Multipla added further success to sales that were already booming.

In March 1957 the first changes were made: the engine gained half a horsepower, the front door then came in a single piece that could be lowered using a conventional crank handle, plus the taillights were also modified. Stage two came in March 1959: the output was boosted to 24.5 hp and the top speed reached 100 km/h. At the end of the same year, there were more changes to the lights: at the front, the turn signals on the upper part of the mudguard disappeared, replaced by the front gems and orange ‘buttons’ on the side, with the indicators and reflectors in the rear completing the lighting structure.

In late 1960 came the turn of the Fiat 600D: the displacement was increased to 767 cc, and the 29 hp took it to a top speed of 110 km/h. To improve cooling, the number of slits in the bonnet was increased, with the front windows also fitted with a deflector. In 1964 the doors changed direction: they no longer opened “into the wind” or, as was said at the time “against the wind” so, the then-invisible hinges were concealed inside the bodywork.

With a typically cinematic “crossfade”, production of the Fiat 600 continued even after the arrival of its successor in 1964, the Fiat 850. The exchanges between the two models were based on economies of scale: the 600 took its larger headlights, windscreen, roof and other body parts from the 850, whereas the 850 inherited much of the “all-rear” architecture.

Over the years, coachbuilders based many of their custom-built cars on the 600: mainly compact yet elegant coupés, as well as other bizarre and curious models such as the roofless Fiat 600 Ghia Jolly “Spiaggina” with wicker seats made by the Turin automaker.

Production in Italy ended in late 1969 at a total of over 2.6 million cars made, although overall, almost 5 million were produced if those made in Argentina, Spain, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and Chile are included. Between 1956 and 1962, the Mirafiori plant produced more than 100,000 cars per year, rising to nearly 150,000 between 1957 and 1960.

The quality of the “Tipo 100” project meant that the 600's engine continued to evolve over the years, constantly increasing in power and revisited in other Fiat models: from the 850 to the 127, from the first Autobianchi A112 Abarth  58 HP to the Panda 45 and the Fiat Uno 45 passing the baton to the FIRE engines in the mid-1980s but remaining unused until the 2000s. Not only the engine: the 600’s frame and chassis would also prove their worth in the unbeatable tune-ups created by Abarth, the 850 and 1000 TC that would go on to write chapters in the history of the Scorpion brand on circuits all over the world.

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