Minichamps 1:18 Fiat 500: Ciao, Baby

Minichamps 1:18 Fiat 500: Ciao, Baby

Here’s an Italian lesson for you: Bring your jaw forward a bit, and say “cheen-quay-CHEN-toh”. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Add in a little hand language – a slow, loose-fingered rolling of the right hand in a circular motion, at around shoulder height, should do – and you might pass for a native.

Show up to a good Italian restaurant in a genuine, classic Fiat 500, and you’ll probably get a seven course meal out of the deal. These outstanding little eggs were the Italian answer to the VW bug (don’t say that at dinner – you’ll get smacked with a bracciole), and they put Italy back on its wheels, post-war.

They also have tons of charm, and that makes them the perfect subject for a well-done model – as is the case with this Minichamps item, done as the slightly upscale, new for 1968 500L (for “Lusso” – luxury) version.

Like the VW we recently looked at, this model from the “Car Collection” series gets a lot of visual and tactile mileage out of a relative handful of parts, relying instead on great build and paint, phenomenal lensing (the head- and taillights alone are almost worth the sub-seventy buck price), great chrome and glazing, and a dead-on shape to bring the little car out in scale.

The doors, boot, and engine cover snap open on tidy, if not fussy, details like a front mounted spare tire and fuel tank, and a crisply cast, fully wired black plastic rendering of the car’s 499cc inline 2 cylinder engine. The interior is complete, and made of the same material; nothing fancy, but the castings show all of the detail of the dash, seats, and door panels. It all rolls on a sharp chassis – nothing works, save the steering, but the car’s mechanicals, including the transverse leaf spring up front and the transaxle out back, are all here in deep relief.

Given the sweet subject matter and reasonable price, all in all, a sweet little model. Bello!

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