Fiat Cinquecento Engine

Published by Carl Wilson on

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Fiat Cinquecento Engine

The Fiat Cinquecento launched as the Nuova Cinquecento in July 1957, it was marketed as a cheap and practical town car. The Fiat Cinquecento became a fully fledged car icon after winning the hearts of thousands of Italians after the model was launched.

It achieved worldwide fame through its combination of super city driving and great design and turned heads long after production ceased in 1975.

Measuring only 3 meters (10 feet) long and originally powered by a tiny 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the Cinquecento redefined the term “small car” and is considered one of the first city cars. Despite its diminutive size, the Cinquecento proved to be an enormously practical and popular vehicle throughout Europe. Besides the two-door coupé, it was also available as the “Giardiniera” station wagon; this variant featured the standard engine laid on its side, the wheelbase lengthened by 10 cm (4 in) which yielded a usable rear seat, a full-length sunroof, and larger brakes from the Fiat 600.

Fiat Cinquecento Models

Nuova (1957-1960): The original Cinquecento, the Nuova, has a smaller two-cylinder engine than all newer models, at 479 cc and producing just 13 bhp. The Nuova is one of three models featuring “suicide doors”. There is also a stylish Sport version of the Nuova, which features a distinctive red stripe and a more powerful engine, bored out to 499.5 cc from the original 479 cc engine and with a longer stroke, thus producing an impressive 21 bhp from the same original block.

D (1960-1965): Replacing the original Nuova in 1960, the D looks very similar to the Nuova, but there are two key differences. One is the engine size (the D features an uprated 499 cc engine producing 17 bhp as standard — this engine is used right through until the end of the L in 1973) and the other is the roof (the D roof does not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova). K or Giardiniera (1960-1977): The estate version of the Fiat Cinquecento is the longest running model. The engine is laid under the floor of the boot to create a flat loading surface.

F or Berlina (1965-1973): The F spans two periods of Cinquecento productions, the D and the L. As such, it is the most frequently misidentified model. This has the same two-cylinder engine as Nuova, 479 cc and producing just 13 bhp.

L or Lusso (1968-1972): The penultimate model, the main change for the L is a much modernized interior (including a renewed dashboard) which brought the Fiat Cinquecento up to date. This has the same two-cylinder engine as Nuova, 479 cc and producing just 13 bhp.

R or Rinnovata (1972-1975): The last incarnation of the Fiat Cinquecento was the R model. It had a larger 594 cc engine, giving it a more usable power rating of 23 bhp — the gas gauge was omitted and only the low fuel indicator remained. The Cinquecento R was also a stop-gap for Fiat prior to the launch of the Fiat 126, and when the new 126 was launched sales of the old Fiat Cinquecento R naturally plummeted. It sold alongside the Fiat 126 for another two years before Fiat finally retired the Cinquecento.

Unlike the rear-wheel drive 126, the Cinquecento was a front wheel drive car. It was initially available with two engine choices, with the 1.1 L FIRE or “sporting” joining the line up later. Interestingly, while the 704 cc engine was mounted longitudinally, the bigger units were fitted transversely, making the little Fiat one of the few cars in the world available with both configurations at the same time.

704 cc: The smallest engine, intended for sale in Poland only, was a 704 cc ohv two-cylinder unit, delivering 31 PS (23 kW; 31 hp). Cinquecento inherited this unit from the 126p BIS, an evolution of the 126p which was cancelled when the Cinquecento production started. In order to be fitted in the front-wheel drive Cinquecento, it underwent a major refurbishment (although the engine still employed a carburettor), which resulted, among other changes, in the crankshaft revolving in the opposite direction than in the 126p BIS!

903/899 cc: The bigger engine was the 903 cc 40 PS (29 kW; 39 hp) version of the veteran ohv four-cylinder engine, which saw service in many small Fiat models, starting with Fiat 850. This engine dates back to the initial 633 cc unit as introduced in the 1955 FIAT 600. It was fitted with single point fuel injection and was the base engine in most markets. Due to fiscal limitations, the displacement of this unit was limited to 899 cc in 1993, with a slight reduction of output, now producing 39 PS (29 kW; 38 hp). This engine is derived from that used in the Fiat 127. While it still retains OHV chain drive pushrod layout it now has hydraulic tappets. Also now uses twin coil distributorless ignition.

1.1 FIRE (Sporting): In 1994, Fiat introduced the Cinquecento Sporting, featuring the 1108 cc SOHC FIRE 54 PS (40 kW; 53 hp) engine from the entry level Punto of the same era.

Newer Models from 2008

Buyers opting for a petrol engine can choose between the 69bhp 1.2-litre version which offers a 0-62mph time of 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 99mph. The 100bhp 1.4 litre model covers 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds and has a top speed of 113mph.

There is also a 75bhp 1.3 litre MultiJet turbo diesel model which covers 0-62mph in 12.5 seconds and boasts a top speed of 103mph.

The 1.4-litre petrol model we drove first was responsive, quiet and well matched to its six-speed manual gearbox, while the 1.3-litre diesel engine provided more oomph at lover revs. But both are well-suited to city driving while capable of coping with motorway driving.

Drivers can also choose between two steering settings at speeds of under 44mph to increase feedback where necessary and lighten steering effort when parking.

The engines are also frugal with the two petrol versions due to return an average 44.8mpg and 55.4 mpg while it is claimed the diesel will cover a wallet-pleasing 67.3mpg.

The smaller engine petrol model and the diesel version also fall within car tax band B – presenting an annual bill of just £35. The 1.4-litre petrol model comes into Car Tax Band C, which sees that rise to £115.

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Carl Wilson

You won't believe it, I'm native Scotsman. Enthusiast. Car lovers. Almost finished rebuilding my Reliant Saber 🔥


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