1961 Autobianchi Bianchina
Year of manufacture1961
Chassis number110 DB 032036
1961 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Convertible
Chassis no. 110 DB 032036
Originally a bicycle manufacturer and arguably best-known as a maker of fine racing motorcycles, Edoardo Bianchi built his first automobile in the early 1900s. A wide variety of models was manufactured over the next 30 years, though by 1940 the firm was concentrating on motorcycles and commercial vehicles. Car manufacture resumed in 1957 under FIAT auspices, Autobianchi's debut model being the Bianchina, based on FIAT's new 500, which was launched on 16th September 1957 at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan. Positioned up-market from the FIAT, the Bianchina debuted as the Transformabile convertible coupé, with full-length folding sunroof, and showed clear signs of American influence - its size excepted - exemplified by two-tone paintwork, whitewall tyres and plentiful chromework. 'Suicide' doors were another interesting feature.
Initially, the Bianchina was powered by FIAT's smallest engine, shared with the Nuova 500, an air-cooled vertical twin of 479cc producing 15PS (14.8bhp). For 1960 the newly introduced and more powerful (17PS) 499cc FIAT 500D engine became standard equipment on the Bianchina range, which was augmented by two new models: a Cabriolet and the Panoramica estate car that used the FIAT Giardiniera's space-saving horizontally mounted engine. A fourth version, the Quattroposti saloon, arrived the following year, followed by a brace of vans. For 1961 the Trasformabile became available as the 'Special', with a maximum power output of 21PS.
Positioned up-market from the FIAT 500, which had been conceived as basic transportation for the impecunious masses, the Bianchina in its various guises was marketed as a 'second car' or luxurious 'recreational vehicle'. Appealing strongly to affluent middle class ladies, it reflected Italian society's increasing prosperity.
Arguably much more elegant than Ghia's 'Jolly' derivatives of the FIAT 500 and 600, this charming Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile was restored in 2010 and will surely turn heads wherever it goes. Described by the vendor as excellent throughout, the car is offered with Italian registration papers and an ACI Certificato di Proprieta.