1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformabile

Before the outbreak of World War II, Bianchi was known as a bicycle manufacturer and a maker of high end vehicles. With the destruction of the Bianchi factory during the war and the death of founder Edoardo Bianchi in 1946, ownership passed on to his son, who kept the business alive, focusing on the bicycle and motorcycle production. It was soon thereafter Bianchi begun to explore the possibility of returning to automobile manufacturing. It was apparent, however, that the costs in doing so were too great for this small company. A partnership with Fiat was thus devised, as this provided Bianchi with the necessary economies of scale and gave Fiat a way to capture the premium small car market under a new nameplate: Autobianchi. This particular car for sale, the Bianchina, was the first product of the partnership. It was based on Fiat 500 mechanicals and had was a rather unique two door body style with a folding canvas roof. Few of these were made, and fewer still made it to the US. This one for sale in Arizona has had a complete restoration and exudes a late 1950s look in turquoise with a white roof.

1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformabile

Summary: 1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformabile Special, Series 2, is a very rare Italian micro car only produced from 1959 to 1961. Only 1500 of these semi-convertible ‘transformabile Specials’ models were made. Complete restoration done to show quality. Runs, drives and shows excellent.

Details: Powered by a 500cc/21hp, air cooled, rear mounted 2 cylinder engine, backed by a 4-speed manual gearbox, 4-wheel independent suspension and 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. This is an excellent example of one of the world's most attractive micro cars. A complete high quality restoration done to show standards has been performed. This car was brought down to it’s tub, media blasted with aluminum oxide and all internal floor and doors treated with Por-15 products before body and paint completion. Finished in a classic blue color with cream accents, and sporting Pirelli tires. One look will tell the experienced buyer the level of restoration this Bianchina has received, down to new or rebuilt mechanicals, and attention to details that really make this car a one of a kind. VIN#018118 Motor: FIAT 110.004 #090895

Car History: In 1885, 20-year-old Eduardo Bianchi set up a bicycle-making business in Milan, and before long was making motorized three-wheelers and then, before the turn of the century, four-wheelers. In the 1920s, Bianchi was third behind only Fiat and Lancia in Italian car production. In 1955, following a business alliance with Fiat and Pirelli and a name change to Autobianchi, the reorganized company focused its operations on a long-running series of upscale Fiat 500 variants. Fiat provided the technical components and knowledge, Pirelli provided the tires, and Bianchi created the bodies and assembled the vehicles. The body was designed by Luigi Rapi. The first product produced under this new venture was the Bianchina which was based on the Fiat 500 and offered luxury features not found on the 500. The first body style to roll off the assembly line was the 'Trasformabile' and would remain as the only body-style available until 1960, when the Cabriolet was introduced.

Diminutive yet bursting with an abundance of sporting character, the Bianchina offered sturdy and widely available Fiat 500 mechanical components with luxurious levels of trim for the era. The understated yet captivating Bianchina was further enhanced by a series of mechanical upgrades, including a lowered suspension, which contributed to a sportier ride. Despite its small two-cylinder air-cooled engine mounted in the rear of the car, the Bianchina was quite a capable performer, with a top speed of 60 mph and an estimated range of nearly 300 miles. Fuel economy reportedly approached a very impressive 50 mpg. While the Bianchina was just one of the many fascinating European micro cars that were available during the 1950s and 1960s, it was an unqualified success. In fact, with its decidedly sporty demeanor and limited-production cachet, it was quickly regarded by enthusiasts as the rich mans’ Fiat.

It's always amazing to me that old technology could return such high fuel economy figures, but then, it shows how much of a benefit light weight can be. If manufacturers these days would explore more lightweight materials and work on getting the costs down to reasonable levels, it would only help the drive for greater fuel efficiency.

Fiat 500s of this era, in good condition, regularly trade hands in the $15,000 to $20,000 range, with exceptional or rare examples fetching even more money. If this Bianchina sells, I would probably peg it in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, but if the right bidders are in the mix, it may bring slightly more.