- Written by webmin
It’s nearly impossible to think of two cars with as little in common as Fiat’s pre-war people-mover, the 500 “Topolino,” and that sumptuous, 21st-century chariot of the uber-rich, Maybach’s 57S. And yet, there is a link: Each was the basis of a limited-production variant produced by the German coachbuilder Weinsberg.
Strictly speaking, what lies beneath the swoopy lines of this pint-sized Weinsberg Roadster is not a Fiat, but a 1939 Fiat-NSU 500, built under license by NSU in Neckarsulm, Germany. The Topolino, or “little mouse,” was powered by a mighty, 569cc sidevalve inline-four that made somewhere around 13 horsepower. Granted, that’s not much, but let’s look at the pluses: It’s rare, it’s great on gas, and it makes people smile wherever it goes. And the asking price is a whole lot lower than the nearly $1 million asking price of the Weinsberg-bodied, Maybach-based Xenatec coupe unveiled a few weeks ago.
From the seller’s description:
The Fiat 500, colloquially known as the “Topolino” (literally translated as “small mouse” but also the Italian translation of “Mickey Mouse”), was to Italy what the Volkswagen Beetle was to Germany, and the Citroen 2CV was to France. Inexpensive, simple, economical, and robust, the cars competed not with other cars, but with tractors, horses, and two-wheeled vehicles. They sold extremely well, with large numbers built, but only a few hundred of this particular model. Most examples were sold in Italy because the high import duties in other countries, and to skirt this issue, NSU built a licensed version of the Topolino in Germany. Approximately 7000 of these NSU-Fiats were built, of which the most expensive variant was this Weinsberg roadster model. Fewer than 500 were built, and they bear more than a passing resemblance to a scaled down BMW 327 or 328.
This particular car is a charming restored example, and was previously part of the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum. It would make an ideal downtown runabout, novelty, or characterful estate car. It was restored to very good standards. The paint is on the thick side but would color sand nicely. The car is otherwise cosmetically outstanding, with excellent metal trim, lamps, and chrome. The unusual NSU/Fiat badging is intact and in great shape, and the glass and Bosch headlamps (which look like scaled-down 540K items) are in excellent shape, as well.
The interior is very nice, with excellent upholstery done to high standards. The instruments and switches are in great shape, as are the carpets. The steering wheel has a few very small hairline cracks but is otherwise excellent. The convertible top is a nice canvas item with boot, and the rear storage area is a surprisingly large, nicely upholstered space accessed behind the seats.
The engine compartment is tidy and compact, with light soiling only, and would respond well to a thorough cleaning. The car runs and drives nicely, and is reasonably quick, being noticeably faster than a Citroen 2CV. The lower gear ratios are closely spaced for the best acceleration, while the fourth gear ratio is quite tall to facilitate reasonable cruising.
This is an extremely rare and adorable little roadster. Nicely restored, it operates very well and attracts lots of positive attention wherever it goes. It is the perfect antidote to the jaded crowd at prestigious concours events and is also enjoyable to drive.
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