These tiny cars are our favorite lots of the upcoming Bonhams’ Padua auction
When it comes to fun and charm, size doesn’t matter in the collector car world. Sometimes all you need is four wheels, some sheetmetal, and a few dozen horsepower to have an absolute blast. While this weekend’s Bonhams auction in Padua, Italy, will feature a neat group of Maseratis, Porsches, BMWs, and even an Alfa Romeo-powered boat, some of the auction’s neatest offerings are a little on the smaller side.
1967 Fiat-Abarth 595 SS
Presale estimate: $63,000–$75,000
Long before people were waking up their neighbors with the rip-snorting no-muffler exhaust on their new Fiat 500 Abarths, the Cinquecento was getting a similar high-performance treatment courtesy of Carlo Abarth, just on a smaller scale. Sportier with a larger bore, tuned suspension, and bigger wheels in addition to better trim, the Abarth was a cut above the standard 500. Performance was a whopping 34 horsepower with a top speed of about 80 mph. Remember that a standard 500 made only about 22 horses, so the difference in performance is relatively huge even if the actual speed isn’t.
Presale estimate: $63,000–$75,000
One of the coolest cars to ever come out of France, the Alpine A110 is a rallying institution with countless wins across Europe during the 1960s and ’70s. It’s still a very popular ride on the vintage rallying scene, and compared to a certain other popular rear-engine rally car (the Porsche 911), the Alpine is a decent value. The A110 offered by Bonhams is already a proven rally and hill climb car, so it’s ready to tackle the twisty bits.
1958 Abarth Allemano Spider
Presale estimate: $69,000–$92,000
Carrozzeria Allemano is a coachbuilder that some (okay, many) might not recognize, but Allemano bodywork has graced automobiles from most of the Italian greats, including Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, and Cisitalia. Allemano coachwork also made its way to Fiat-Abarths in the form of chic and endearing little spiders and coupes, most often on the 750 and 850 platforms. Bonhams’ example is a U.S. market car, and has since been made into a bit of a hot rod with a 1050 Abarth A112 engine from the 1970s, a five-speed gearbox from a Porsche 911, Abarth front suspension, and Fiat X1/9 rear suspension.
1979 Mini Pickup
Presale estimate: $17,000–$19,000
You may not be able to tow a boat with it, but with the Mini Pickup BMC took one of the most charming cars ever built and made it even cuter. Built on the longer van platform used by the Mini Traveller and Countryman models, the pickup version came out in 1961. With commercial use in mind, interiors were sparsely equipped and engines were typically single-carb 848cc or 998cc units. The one offered by Bonhams received a restoration in 2013 and would make a neat little runabout for a restoration shop or a vintage race team. If wood paneling is more your thing, there is a 1962 Austin Countryman available at the same sale.
Presale estimate: $40,000–$63,000
Bodywork by Zagato is always distinctive, but it’s almost never pretty. From the side and the rear, though, the fastback design of the Fulvia Sport bodied by Zagato has a more elegant look to it than the standard factory-bodied coupe even if the nose still features typical Zagato funkiness. Fulvias may only have a small V-4 and front-wheel drive, but they are tossable little cars that racked up quite a few rally wins in their day. Bonhams’ example is desirably equipped with the more powerful 1.3-liter engine, a five-speed manual, and Cromodora wheels, plus its original color of Lechler Blue Mendoza really does the distinctive fastback shape justice. A full restoration on the car finished up this year, which explains the high estimate.
Presale estimate: $140,000–$180,000
In the 1950s and early ’60s, Abarth was known as the “king of small” cars because Abarths were so often the cars to beat in international road racing’s small displacement classes. The 750 is one of the models that made Abarth’s reputation. With modified Fiat 600 mechanicals and slippery “double bubble” alloy coupe bodywork by Zagato, it won its class in high-profile races on both sides of the Atlantic. Bonhams’ example has the rare and desirable Record Monza model with the 47-horsepower Bialbero (twin-cam) engine, and was restored about 10 years ago.