I located this car very close to my home, by accident via Craigs List. Hopped in the car to look at it, and told the seller “SOLD” after a two minute evaluation of finding the car had ZERO rust due to a gentle California Life The car was a rolling basket case, engine not seized, but other than that, required everything for full restoration, which I proceeded to tackle, full time over the course of eight months total… I do one restoration at a time, full time, and do not let off till completion. This one turned out exactly as I had envisioned. Nothing like starting with a rust free basis. Thank you California climate!!!
1959 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformabile
- Photo-Documented Fresh Concours Restoration
- US Export, California-Kept Example
- Exquisitely Detailed and Presented
- One of the Most Beautifully Designed Microcars
- Recent Best of Show Winner
Chassis No. 012100
479 CC Air-Cooled 2-Cylinder Engine
Single Weber Carburetor
16.5 BHP at 4,400 RPM
4-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Drum Brakes
Transverse leaf front and Independent Coil Rear Suspension
Introduced to the world at the Paris Salon in Spring of 1957, the Bianchina was the first car to emerge from a union between Bianchi, Fiat and Pirelli, and this fully retractable sun roof car is essentially a Fiat 500 in disguise. With a body far more luxurious than the 500, it was quickly referred to by many as the “Rich Man’s Fiat Cinquecento.” Production of the Bianchina Transformabile ended in 1960, making this three-year run car a favorite amongst collectors.
Bursting with character, this Bianchina features Fiat 500 running gear, lovely rear-hinged doors, a fully retractable folding canvas Transformabile roof and luxurious trim. It is a harmonious combination of understated design and utility that, with its factory-lowered suspension, delivers a far sportier ride than the base Fiat 500.
As noted in the factory-original sales brochure and Owner’s Manual, top speed is defined as “over 55 miles per hour” and the 5.5-gallon fuel tank has a range of over 287 miles, which equates to approximately 52.3 miles per gallon. This car, after completion, has been test driven at 67 mph.
In 1958, this Bianchina was imported directly from Italy to warm, dry Southern California where it has remained its entire life. When discovered in 2008, it had been in dry, indoor storage for over 25 years and, at that time, was complete and intact but not in running condition.
In 2009, I commenced a thorough and accurate restoration of this lovely Bianchina. The work took one year and began with the car being fastened to a rotisserie and stripped to its bare shell for thorough media blasting that revealed the mauve-colored factory sheet metal primer beneath. The entire body was taken down to bare steel. The fuel tank was chemically dipped and purged upon removal, and the entire brake system was rebuilt using fresh components. The engine was reconstructed utilizing an NOS cylinder head and carburetor, internal oil pump/slinger, main bearings, push rod tubes and seals and, as a result, the Bianchina now runs as well as it presents.
Numerous NOS parts were used in this comprehensive and faithful restoration, including window glass with factory-correct Fiat markings. The chrome, aluminum, pot-metal and stainless brightwork throughout the car was meticulously restored by one of the best plating shops in the US, well-known for its Pebble Beach clientele, and one glimpse of the undercarriage reveals the level of painstaking detail taken during the restoration. The factory-issued forward-tilting driver and passenger bucket seats allow access to the rear seats via elegant rear-hinged doors and, together with NOS 5-piece rubber flooring, correct color-coordinated two-tone wheels and five correct Firestone Silvertown tires, the car displays a wonderfully fresh overall appearance.
Throughout the restoration, I painstakingly documented the entire process and an archived digital catalogue consisting of over 300 high-res images taken before, during and after, was constructed. Completed in November 2010, this car made its debut at the eclectic annual Los Angeles, California car show “The Best of France and Italy.” During the award ceremony, it was announced that this diminutive Bianchina had received the award for “Best Italian Car,” sharing the podium with the day’s best French car, a Brescia Bugatti. Considering its competition included cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa-Romeo, Maserati and Siata, this is quite an accomplishment – and an honor for a car that would look at home in the Fifth Avenue window of FAO Schwarz.