Home » The Best Fiat 500 Variant Was The Steyr-Puch 500, If You Were Curious: Cold Start

The Best Fiat 500 Variant Was The Steyr-Puch 500, If You Were Curious: Cold Start

Cs Puch 1
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One thing we should all be ready for is the knowledge that, at some point, likely when you least expect it, you will be confronted at knife or broken bottle-point and asked to state your favorite variant of Fiat’s Nuova 500. Sometimes the asking party will have a clear agenda in mind: if you pick, for example, the NSU version or a Vignale Gamine, they might just stab you. Or not, I’m really not sure and can’t speak to the depravity of such people. What I do know is that picking the Steyr-Puch 500 is always a safe choice, because they made a fantastic 500 variant.

Also, I’m not sure what’s up with that white line in the top photo. Let’s just ignore it.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The biggest difference in the Steyr-Puch 500 was the engine, which is a pretty big change for a license-built car. Instead of the inline-twin used on nearly all 500s, Steyr-Puch installed a clever little flat-twin with an upright fan in a curved shroud that really resembled a halved VW flat-four or a Porsche 356 engine:

Cs Puch 2

This engine made 16 horsepower, a whole trio of horses more than the Fiat one, and was much smoother running than the inline-twin, by virtue of the inherent balance of an opposed engine.

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Cs Puch 3

The rear engine cover was the only real sheetmetal difference, featuring horizontal air intake slots that were larger than the original 500’s. The front end also had the Steyr-Puch badge, of course, and had a bit of a different look.

Cs Puch Ladies

I think those taillights are different, too, and there appears to be a decadent two license plate lamps, even.

Cs Puch500 Luggage

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Also, look how many big-ass suitcases you can cram in this thing through the wide-opening suicide door! Is this guy moving? Where the hell is he going? What’s in the boxes? Something’s up here, clearly.

 

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OldDrunkenSailor
OldDrunkenSailor
11 months ago

I’m sorry Torch, but you’re saying that it’s the best 500 variant with a straight face when you know fully well that it doesn’t have wicker seats or tassels hanging from the roof. The Steyr Puch 500 might be good, but the Jolly 500 is the greatest of all time.

Nick Fortes
Nick Fortes
11 months ago

The white line in the first photo appears to be the sight line of the driver making a parallel parking maneuver. Not sure why they made the line stop and appear to come out of the wheel well though. Maybe there’s a hole in the rear quarter panel of the car that allows the driver to look down through the wheel well at the approaching curb.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 months ago

Those three ladies popping out of the sunroof look *almost* exactly how I imagine 1950s bachelor party entertainment would have been.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
11 months ago

Great article! But what gives with the article not even mentioning that oval window VW Beetle? And inquiring minds would like to know about the other two vehicles, particularly the one with *three* headlights. Mighty intriguing.

Last edited 11 months ago by Collegiate Autodidact
Masa
Masa
11 months ago

The car on the bottom left hand side looks like an NSU Neckar Europa? An unusual car with rear hinge doors on the front while the rear doors where front hinged. You can see on the hood it has what looks like a FIAT badge as it’s technically a FIAT 1100.

No idea about the other cars!

Last edited 11 months ago by Masa
Austin Vail
Austin Vail
11 months ago

The three headlight car looks like a Fiat 1100, and if you google them, they sometimes have three headlights like that.

3WiperB
3WiperB
11 months ago

It seems unnecessary to carry a 2×4 routed through the driver window and the wheel-well when you have a roof that opens completely. Just hang it out the back like a normal person. Convertibles are great for small trees and such as well. I often loaded my framing lumber and other long items through the sunroof of my Astra because it was easier than leaving the hatch open and dealing with the hassle of strapping the items down and putting a red flag on it. (why would we want to ignore the white line?)

Last edited 11 months ago by 3WiperB
Data
Data
11 months ago

What’s in the box?!

Chris with bad opinions
Chris with bad opinions
11 months ago
Reply to  Data

Richard

Masa
Masa
11 months ago

My favorite topic…there’s literally a hundred different variants based on the 1957 – 1975 FIAT 500. Some more common (Abarth, Giannini, Autobianchi, etc.) than others (Lombardi, Zagato, Steinwinter…). Giannini alone made about 12 different variants. I think they are all interesting!

Regarding the tail lights, the one in the photo are the common type used on all Italian 500’s between 1957 through to about 1959. Things started to get strange around 1959 when the Italian Highway Code was revised. Italian 500’s from that era are very often mis-identified since they appear to have features found on 500’s built after 1960.

Notice a few interesting features on the last photo…it looks like a 1958 Puch 500. The car technically doesn’t have a back seat and, at least in Italy, marketed as a two seater. It had a very spartan cushion (more like a cloth mat) only intended to store luggage, but that didn’t stop people from sitting on it. But with the roof extended, it’s practically impossible to sit in the back…FIAT eventually modified the profile of the 500 and made it into a 4 seater around 1959 with the introduction of the “500 Tetto Apribile”. Also notice the windows don’t roll down…this model was referred as the “Economica” as it had next to no convenience features. The car also has no window washer sprays.

I’ve never had the opportunity to sit in a Puch 500 and wonder if there was more room in the back with the flat engine?

Last edited 11 months ago by Masa
Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
11 months ago
Reply to  Masa

I would love to see the 350cc version Giannini had in their price lists. I wonder if any were actually made, and would it have been possible to register it as a kei car in Japan???

Ron888
Ron888
11 months ago

Well done Torch! Another hilarious opening paragraph.I don’t know how you come up with so many while being different every time

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
11 months ago

Engine lid wasn’t the only difference. All the article pics are of full-sunroof cars but they also did a hardtop with a peak over the rear window that added significantly to rear headroom.

A. Barth
A. Barth
11 months ago

Also, I’m not sure what’s up with that white line in the top photo

A crude sort of watermark?

Look at the valvetrain! The cam pushes on pivoting lifters that look like Star Trek insignia, and then the pushrods go up at a dramatic angle. I need to find some photos of that.

Ottomottopean
Ottomottopean
11 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Nope. That white line is nearly certainly a page break where this image likely straddled two pages of the magazine. Someone separated them to scan the page to get it flat. If you zoom in you can see the crude effects of mediocre Photoshop skills along the roofline and again in the rear wheel well. Even the cobblestone driveway is displaying the lack of skill. (I shouldn’t be too harsh as it is quite a challenge to match up all the angles and get it cleaned up).

It is somewhat funny to me that when it came to the interior they just gave up and didn’t even try. Probably for the best.

Cyko9
Cyko9
11 months ago
Reply to  Ottomottopean

And here I was thinking it was a clever marketing angle: “See how easy it is for the driver to see out the back when parallel parking?”

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
11 months ago

There’s a second, vertical white line running through the B-pillar in the cutaway. Maybe the Teutonic engineers thought it needed a little more structural rigidity.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
11 months ago

” Is this guy moving? Where the hell is he going? What’s in the boxes? Something’s up here, clearly.”

Yeah his wife smelled three different perfumes in his car, none of them hers.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

That white stripe in the top photo is the “Sanitized For Your Protection” strip.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
11 months ago

“Jerry take your stuff and get out! And I’m keeping the big car!”

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