Fiat’s two remaining 1958 600 Mirafioris are UFO-like delights

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jay leno driving fiat multipla on road action Jay Leno's Garage

The Mirafiori complex is the heart of the Fiat empire in Turin, and a place which former company president Gianni Agnelli wasn’t shy to show off during the busiest days of the Italian automotive industry. In 1974, Fiat even launched a car named after the plant, the 131 Mirafiori, which was known as the Brava in America, and as the Supermirafiori and SuperBrava once the platform was upgraded to the Lampredi Twin-Cam. In two-door Abarth Sport form, the 131 also scored three WRC Championships.

Two decades earlier, Fiat’s priority was to get people moving again after the war, and given that it was available as a six-seater, a five/four-seater van or a taxi, the 600-based Multipla was the perfect tool for that job. Here’s one I spotted in front of a shop some three years ago, much to my delight:

Fiat 600 Multipla front three-quarter
Máté Petrány
Fiat 600 Multipla side-view
Máté Petrány

First built with the 633-cc engine and then upgraded to Fiat’s 767-cc big block, the cheap and cheerful rear-engine Multipla offered a great platform for extensive modifications as well, something Carrozzeria Fissore realized right in time for the model’s 1956 premier.

1957 Fiat 600 Multipla Marinella front three-quarter
flickr / Brian Snelson

While Fissore’s Multipla Marinella came with a beachtastic wraparound wooden-slat bench seating at the rear, it was missing two crucial upgrades that Agnelli’s team applied to five 1958 specials built for the VIP guests of the factory: Oak bumpers, and a removable plexiglass bubble roof that still fascinates all who see it.

More or less functional show cars, these Mirafiori Multiplas are wider and longer than the regular vans, featuring both stock and custom parts from the Mirafiori workshops. And with a vinyl interior, plenty of headroom and individual ashtrays for all, these VIP-carriers could satisfy even the tallest of chainsmokers. Twenty-five horsepower and double-clutching in first gear never felt more glamorous.

The surviving two of the original five vehicles are now part of the Stuart Parr Collection, maintained and tastefully upgraded by the former vintage furniture specialist. These 600s are true icons of an era, and truly one of life’s simple joys. Seeing Jay Leno climb into one isn’t too bad, either.

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