This happened 3-4 years ago but I don't think I ever mentioned it here.
Back in 2011 this link featured this photo posted by Ricks:
Having owned a 1920s FIAT 501 I knew what it was. It seemed like an interesting car at a good price (the Aussie $ was very strong back then) so I forwarded the photo to a buddy in Melbourne who's a vintage FIAT guy.
The FIAT 501 was Italy's answer to the Model T. Production started 1919 and lasted for several years. It was made only in RHD with right hand gear shift (next to the door) and was factory 12V. The small capacity side valve engine (1400cc) was mated to a four speed crash box with a stump pulling 1st gear (near to 20:1 overall).
Like the T they were designed for rough use and had a good ground clearance. Most sold in Australia were bodied locally and were the "Colonial" wide-track variant.
To cut a long story short, my buddy ended up contacting the seller, then flew to the US with his wife, purchased the car and shipped it back to Australia.
The car was in poor shape needing mechanical and wood repairs but has since been restored. Here's a photo of it at the AutoBella car show in Melbourne.
Rather than being slowly eaten away by coons in a musty US barn, the car is now enjoying the good life in sunny Australia
Great story. Good to see another antique car being saved and used!
Great story Constantine! Thank you for sharing it. I also liked the Ralph R connection.
Interesting car, but hardly a competitor to the Model T in Australia or New Zealand. These European cars were very expensive outside their home countries ; in 1930 the Fiat[521C] cost 595 NZ Sterling [ probably more in Aust.] compared to a new Model A roadster at 198 NZ Sterling or an Essex Challenger at 355 Sterling. The only cheap Euro cars in the Depression era were the tiny,underpowered English Morris & Austin so most people here bought American cars up to WW2.
Wayne T, the FIAT 521C was a 4 speed, seven bearing 6 cyl car; a more powerful, better equipped and more advanced vehicle than the Model A. Better to compare the Model A price to the 4 cyl FIAT 514.
But that's all beside the point because we're discussing the Model T vs the FIAT 501 or the later 503. I don't think the Model T was half the price of a 501. The Model T was cheaper but the FIAT offered stronger chassis, 4 speed (vs 2), 4 leaf springs (vs 2) and optional front brakes (standard on the 503); I think there's no doubt the FIAT took sales away from the T. Most 501 sold in Australia were bodied locally; it was a good selling car. Many went to farmers in rural Australia.
Good info on the Aussie 501 :