Luigi Lusso: 1971 Fiat 550 L

Post WWII saw European automobile manufacturers racing to develop and produce economy cars for the general population.  Getting people moving throughout Europe again was a top priority and viewed as healthy for the economy.  Many offerings were rear engine air-cooled models, but none were revered as much as the Fiat 500.  Find this 1971 Fiat 550 L for sale in Ventura, CA for $13,500 via craigslist.

Introduced in 1957, the 500 ( Cinquecento in Italian) hit a home run with consumers and production continued through to 1975. While many variations emerged over the nearly 20 year life span, the basic design never changed much from the original.  This model is known as the “L” or Lusso version, equipped with a more luxurious interior and upgraded instrumentation.  With over 3.3 million produced, these are not rare cars, but rarely found for sale in the north american market place.

By 1971 the engine displacement had grown to 499 CC producing a ground pounding 18 HP.  The seller lists this example as being equipped with a 650 CC engine which indicates either modifications have been performed or a transplant from one of Fiat’s larger cars.

The L version was equipped with a higher end interior which included carpeted floors,  The instrument cluster came from Fiat’s larger 850 sedan.  The interior looks in very good condition from the pictures provided.   

The seller does a good job representing the car in the ad and discloses some rocker panel bubbling with pictures provided.  Filters were obviously used when snapping the photos giving it the Italian countryside look.  Far from perfect, this little Cinquecento would be a blast around town and can be a fun fix for that discriminate air-cooled yearning.

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When not receiving complaints of “distracted by cars…again” from his wife, Glenn can be found in the kitchen whipping up exotic cuisine and nourishing nosh.