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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1958 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformable from Italy

Pick of the Day: 1958 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformable from Italy

The charming minicar is a rare version of the Fiat 500-based model

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Could the Pick of the Day be the ultimate beach cruiser? The car in question is a rare and tiny 1958 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformable, whose name seems longer than its wheelbase.

“Transformable” signifies the open-top version of the Bianchina, with a sliding fabric roof that pulls back from the windshield while the body sides and windows remain in place.  This Special version was the rarest of that model, with its Fiat-derived 479cc 2-cylinder engine boosted to 21 horsepower from the standard 18 and sporting a 2-tone paint job.

biachina

The scant horsepower was not a major issue since the car weighs just 1,120 pounds.  The Bianchina was based on the platform of the ubiquitous Fiat 500, and the Transformable was designed by Lugi Rapi, according to the Laguna Beach, California, dealer advertising the diminutive craft on ClassicCars.com

Laguna Beach does indeed seem like the kind of place where you’d spot such a charming minicar. Although in Italy, where the Fiat 500 was vastly popular in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the Bianchina Transformable would have fit in just about anywhere.

bianchina, Pick of the Day: 1958 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformable from Italy, ClassicCars.com Journal

“This unique car represents the mid-century Italian design and was presented to the public September 16, 1957, at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy,” the seller notes in the ad description. “The car is finished with brilliant red and creme paint, black Hartz cloth top and saddle-tan interior, suicide doors, rollup windows, and the correct bias-play whitewall tires.”

By the numbers, the Bianchina has a 72-inch wheelbase, is 119 inches long and stands 52 inches tall.  The inline-4 engine is located in the rear and linked with a 4-speed manual transmission.  Besides the Transformable, the car was offered in 1958 as a 2-door sedan, a cabriolet with a full convertible top, Panoramica station wagon and Furgoncino commercial van. 

biachina

The asking price for this Bianchini is $42,500, which dollar-to-pound might seem like a lot, although for a minicar collector – of which there are many – this could be valued as a little gem.  And as a California coastal cruiser, priceless.

To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Hagerty
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

4 COMMENTS

  1. We had one of these when I was a kid. My dad used it as a commuter car. It was the first car that I was allowed to drive. It had a 2 cylinder engine that would push the car to 62 MPH. It took a least a minute for it to get that fast. The car got 42 mpg around town in mixed driving. It was quite the conversation piece!

    • Dealer says the Bianchina has a 4-cylinder engine, but that apparently is wrong. The engine is indeed a 2-cylinder derived from the Fiat 500. Looking more closely at the small distributor cap in the engine photo, I can see that it has 3 wires — 1 from the coil and 1 each to the spark plugs. I corrected the reference in the article.

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