THE FIAT 600 SALOON
heater, which is controlled by a tiny lever to the right of the back seat sill, which the driver can reach with his left hand. It blows hot air from two adjustable apertures, one on each side of the chassisbackbone in the front compartment, and feeds demister ducts in the dash through large flexible pipes. These pipes are rather unsightly (but then, so are the protruding screws under the dash) and can be inadvertently detached, as they are not secured by clips, while the right-hand one sometimes fouls the driver’s clutch foot. Flashing direction indicators are incorporated in the side-lamps, controlled by a little lever in the centre of the screen sill, which incorporates a
winking reminder-light. As this reminder flashes as brightly as the indicators themselves, the lever is hastily restored to its ” off ” position after corners, the indicators not being self-cancelling ! Taking the Fiat away from the office and over the disgraceful road surface of London’s well-known Chelsea Embankment, past Chelsea, Albert and Battersea bridges, we had the first impression of the undue liveliness of the suspension. The transverse leaf-spring i.f.s. is hard and over bumps and undulations throws the front of the car up and down, so that considerable movement and some pitching develops when it is lightly loaded. Over really bad surfaces this can affect steering control slightly, as the front of the Fiat tends to jump sideways. A softer front spring would seem to be called for, unless this would affect the roll-stiffness of the whole suspension too seriously, although it is unlikely that so light a vehicle would possess the otherwise excellent qualities of control were it endowed with a rigid back axle instead of the coil-spring trailing-link i.r.s. with which it is fitted. Although the occupants are thrown about a good deal no road-shocks reach them, while the car corners accurately
at speed without excessive roll and with only a trace of oversteer. If the tail does break away the very light, smooth worm-and-segment steering provides quick correction, because, although the wheel asks 2f turns lock-to-lock, the turning circle is small, and consequently the action is that of high-geared steering, mere wrist-movements sufficing for normal control. It is rather ” dead” steering, with only mild castor-action, but the wheel transmits vibration rather than return road-wheel movement, and only a trace of lost movement was evident. The Fiat is a joy in which to press along, and this
accurate steering, allied to its small dimensions, get it through traffic very fluidly indeed. The hydraulic brakes are amply powerful and light to apply, and the hand-brake holds securely, although, acting as it does on the transmission, the car rocks somewhat if anchored abruptly with it. In the case of a car of the Fiat’s modest size—it is the smallest four-cylinder car on the market by a matter of 114 cc.—measured performance conveys little. What matters is how much, in terms of journey-time, the owner sacrifices to small engine size and therefore economy. On main-road runs with some cross-country driving thrown in the Fiat 600 proved able to put 40 miles into each hour without undue effort, and in chasing ghosts of the ol d Brooklands days it took us on a 100-mile journey to Norfolk, over a very cir cuitous route, very easily within three hours, including awaiting the pleasure of British Railways for an appreciable time at Six Mile Bottom level-crossing. On this occasion, driving it hard and including a cold start, it averaged 46 m.p.g. of benzole petrol, which represents a fuel range of about 250 miles on a tankful. Plenty of wide-throttle
THE FIAT 600 SALOON
Engine : Four cylinders, 60 by 56 ram. (633 c.c.). Push-rod
o.h. valves. 7.0 to 1 compression ratio. 21.5 b.h.p. at 4,600 r.p.m.
Gear ratios : First, 18.2 to 1; second, 10.05 to 1; third, 7.16 to 1; top, 4.82 to 1.
Tyres : 5.20 by 12 Pirelli Extraflex on bolt-on steel wheels. Weight : 11 cwt. 1 qtr. lb. (ready for the road, without occupants but with approx. one gallon of petrol).
Steering ratio : 21 turns, lock-to-lock.
Fuel capacity : 5f gallons. Range approx. 253 miles. Wheelbase : 6 ft 61 in.
Track : Front, 3 ft. 9 in. Rear, 3 ft. 8f in. Dimensions : 10 ft. 6f in. by 4 ft. 6f in. (wide) by 4 ft. 4f in. Price : £412 108. (£620 2s. with purchase tax, etc.). Concessionaires : Fiat (England) Ltd., Water Road, Wembley,
work seems to suit the high-revving engine, because on short runs the consumption rose to 42 m.p.g., being slightly better on cheapgrade petrol.
The purposeful way in which this little car hums along grows on one, and for all normal occasions it is the equal of larger vehicles in point-to-point speed and considerably handier in congested places. Moreover, while we had it in our care no oil or water were called for, and the engine commenced easily with a minimum of choke in freezing weather, quickly warming-up to its work. The Fiat’s” big-car” characteristic extends to quite brisk acceleration once it gets beyond a crawl in second gear, and ordinary hills do not bring it down much below the speed of other cars. The engine, happily located at the back (with its radiator and cooling fan cun
ningly located beside it to save space) hums away but does not intrude unduly; but some rattles, notably from the loose back-seat squab, are evident. There is some wind noise, probably accentuated by the ” square ” lines, and this increases with the heater in use. The front ” bonnet ” opens by pulling a lever under the dash on the extreme left-hand side, and pressing in a safety catch. The lid is self-supporting but its prop has to be manually released. The square fuel tank with its slightly awkward bayonet filler cap, the luggage space, tool-roll, and the strap-secured spare wheel are then revealed. The rear bonnet opens (the lid going over-centre to lean on the body) to expose the engine, with alloy head, Weber 22DRA carburetter under a big Secco air filter, and the accessible Morelli coil and distributor, a Frani oil filter, Sparkmaster suppressors on the Morelli plugs, and the two Pirelli belts driving dynamo and fan. Oil-filler, radiator-filler and the slender dip-stick are all readily accessible, as is the fusebox. The doors, which are hinged at their rear edge, need some persuasion to shut, for they seal effectively, and they open wide for easy access and egress, the aforesaid parcels’
pockets then forming useful “pulls,” as no” keeps” are provided. The electrical system is 12-volt. The car we had for test was finished in a particularly nice shade of green. The more we handled the new baby Fiat the better we liked it. ft is an excellent little vehicle, capable of taking its place in the
traffic stream along with cars of twice the engine capacity—and nipping past many of them. It is a commendably lively form of economy transport although we could wish for greater accent on the economy, for the pre-war Fiat 500 could regularly attain 50 m.p.g. Nevertheless, the Fiat 600 is a welcome addition to the ranks of modern economy cars and with its all-independent suspension, rearplaced engine and four-speed gearbox is one for which the millions will find a multitude of uses. The price in this country is £412 103., which import duty and p.t. raises to £620 2s.—W. B.