Is This Fiat 500 Abarth Awesome Or Awful?

So I’m minding my own business, cruising down Woodward Avenue in the Detroit ‘burb of Royal Oak when I spot this nutty little machine. The station owner claims it as his own 1969 Fiat 500 Abarth which he’s done up with vinyls and aftermarket bits for street-side advertising purposes.  I don’t really know how to feel about this, do you?
On its own a Fiat 500, especially the original one, is a certain offbeat breed of cool. Most of the charm comes from a scale which makes a modern compact car look positively Brobdingnagian. Of course, when tarted up with upgraded go-fast parts it’s even more appealing. This one’s packing bigger brakes, a stiffened, lowered suspension, and a whale-tail rear spoiler. Nice. Not so sure about some of the stylistic choices, but nice.
On the other hand, it’s been slathered with vinyl pushing the guys responsible for God only knows how much damage in the Gulf of Mexico. Especially bizarre considering the 500 sips juice like its jaw is wired shut. Should the vinyl covered advertisement installation be an El Dorado with a 500 cubic inch V8 idling in place?

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47 responses to “Is This Fiat 500 Abarth Awesome Or Awful?”

  1. muthalovin Avatar

    If you put stickers on anything, it is pretty much awful. Exception: race cars. And this is no race car. God, so awful.

    1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      (in unison) Why-a you no like-ida da fun, muthalovin?
      <img src="; width="500" height="372" alt="66 monza abarth 1000tc's" />

  2. PowerTryp Avatar

    To tell the truth I don't hate it, small rear engined cars just lend themselves to quirk of this magnitude. Can any one who is somewhat capable in photoshop put that livery onto an old Mini Cooper? Cause that would be awesome.

  3. Maxichamp Avatar

    That's some cheap gasoline!

  4. rocketrodeo Avatar

    I'm fine with the vinyl. The wheels, however, indeed suck.

  5. Manic_King Avatar

    Roof and front bumper should be white instead, no need to have BP logo behind Abarth logo in front and those rims are just completely wrong and should be changed to something else. After these changes small Fiat would look great.
    Classic ATS wheels could be right choice….
    <img src=""&gt;

  6. dwegmull Avatar

    It could be worse…
    <img src="; width="500">
    from <a href="” target=”_blank”>

    1. skitter Avatar

      Why would you want a ruined, phony Cinquecento when you could have a Multipla?
      /Fixed it for you.

      1. facelvega Avatar

        arithmetic growth versus geometric

  7. gooseboy Avatar

    i like it, it looks cute and cool ive seen a lot worse cars on the web

  8. BGW Avatar


  9. dragon951 Avatar

    : ClrHome:Input "Fiat 500 Abarth",X
    : If X=Historically accurate replica:Then
    : Output("Win"
    : Else:Output("Fail"
    : Pause
    : ClrHome
    sent from my TI-83 Calculator

  10. Alff Avatar

    As owners of older Italian cars can attest, it's entirely possible that this little guy is responsible for the gulf spill.

  11. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    Unsticker it and put decent wheels on and your back in the game.
    Awesome it is.

  12. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    /That was easy.

  13. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    Too bad they misspelled 'Cotomer Sevis'.

    1. skitter Avatar

      No good.

  14. smokyburnout Avatar

    Needs a cuter sponsor.
    <img src=""/&gt;

    1. Alff Avatar

      At last, someone has found a productive use for cats. I even have their tagline … "Turns every car into a pussywagon".

  15. rovingardener Avatar

    Owned by the world's oldest hippest. And yet, not bad.

  16. njhoon Avatar

    That poor little Abarth, look what BP did to it! I am sure it wants its life back.

  17. chrystlubitshi Avatar

    good to see you doing quality journalism ben. disregard the people who appear to making negative comments about the vehicle pictured… it's not your work– they are just commenting on the owner's taste…
    how is the suicide-door continental coming along?? (i lost your link ages ago and won't return to that other place to find it again..)

    1. Ben Avatar

      I don't know if I'd call this "journalism," it's more like "That dog has a puffy tail… hehehehe!"
      The Continental has slumbered during the winter months while I've been working on other projects. I'll be starting in on it again pretty soon. In the meantime, here's something else to chew on, I've recently picked up a 1950 Packard Eight.

      1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

        Just the engine or the whole car? I don't know if I'd want to care for a whole Packard, but the engine would make for one seriously-awesome T-bucket.

        1. Ben Avatar

          I bought it for the whole car for a very specific reason I'll get to later. It was worth it for the engine and trans alone — drove it home.

          1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

            Good luck, man. I can't imagine dealing with a car from a company that went orphan 50-plus years ago. Hell, it's already hard to find parts for my Pontiac.

          2. Ben Avatar

            Believe it or not parts are actually readily available and not terribly expensive. Because Packard has a rabid following and had a practice of using the same engines and chassis FOREVER, a rebuild kit for my 327 is only like 1400, all new floors are something like 400, it goes on like that. Parts are cheaper than for my Lincoln.

    2. Ben Avatar

      Hey, I forgot to tell you, I put together a build journal a long time ago and didn't update it for a while until this evening. If restoration voyeurism is your thing, here you go:

  18. P161911 Avatar

    Looks like a good way to turn your project car into a business tax write-off.

    1. CptSevere Avatar

      Truly Nolen could probably write a book concerning this. Not that I wouldn't do the same thing myself.

      1. coupeZ600 Avatar

        One of my favorite parts of the long trek back to Bisbee is trying to guess what sort of weird old car that guy in Benson is going to have parked out in front by the highway. It seems like a different one every time I've gone by (admittedly only once or twice a year), and I was wondering if he had a whole yard of funky cars painted yellow with those goofy antennae on them. Have you ever talked to that guy?

  19. Sidecar57 Avatar

    It looks nothing like an Abarth to me.Metinks it's a tarted up bog standard Fiat 500.

  20. tonyola Avatar

    Although there were tons of Abarth variations, the converted Fiat 500s were almost always referred to as 595 or 695 by Abarth, sometimes with letter suffixes. As far as I know, there was never an "Abarth 500". There have been plenty of faked Abarths over the years, and I bet this is one of them.

  21. west_coaster Avatar

    Forget the car…
    YOU GUYS IN MI ARE PAYIN' ONLY 3.55 FOR REGULAR??? I thought I "scored" this afternoon finding Chevron 87 at "only" 3.99.

    1. pj134 Avatar

      SE PA here, 3.45 yesterday.

    2. SSurfer321 Avatar

      Lexington, KY $3.39

    3. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      I just got the highest grade at Shell here in suburban Chicagoland, $3.989/gal, though it's one of the newfangled stations with only three grades to choose from.

  22. SSurfer321 Avatar

    I thought the Abarth had an open bonnet…
    <img src=""&gt;
    *IMG from
    No open bonnet = fail

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Abarths could be had in many different states of tune from mild to wild. The milder versions of the 500 or 600 based cars looked essentially stock Fiat. It was the more highly tuned versions that had the propped lid and front cooling box, and those are the ones everybody thinks of now. Also, it was the slightly bigger Fiat 600 that was the basis for the most famous conversions like the car you pictured.

      1. SSurfer321 Avatar

        Thanks for taking me to school.
        <insert "The More You Know" graphic from the 80's>

  23. fede6882 Avatar

    it hurts to think they done that to an original fiat 500 abarth… kind of looks more like cheap tunning more than classic and crazy racing 2 cylinder car…
    it's a fail, but a potential epic win.

  24. buzzboy7 Avatar

    Good advertising. I can respect that.

  25. Feds_II Avatar

    Stylistically, 2 issues: the front fascia is ugly, and seems a little too modern for the rest of the car. Painting it a green that doesn't quite match any of the other green on the car does not help. Second, the modern BP livery is out of place. Classic car, classic livery:
    A take off of this would be easier on the eyes::
    <img src="; width="500/">
    Otherwise, I dig the whale tale, and the rest of the car.

  26. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    I hate it when I see cars like this. Inevitably they are still standing there a decade later, all dirty, rusty, and unloved.

  27. sam Avatar

    it's freaken awesome!!!!

  28. 2stroke4life Avatar

    Sacrilegious. Carlo Abarth would spin in his grave if he saw this.
    I'd like to give it a proper restoration, and the owner should be banned from owning interesting cars again.