• Charming and fun microcar with Vignale coachwork
• Very rare, low-production “La Dolce Vita” vehicle
• Recent mechanical tune-up and fresh upholstery
• Offered from near-lifelong enthusiast ownership
As one of the premier Italian custom coachbuilders, Alfredo Vignale’s Carrozzeria Vignale was established in 1948 at Grugliasco, near Turin, which was also the home of the Pinin Farina (later renamed Pininfarina) design house and production facilities. Beginning with a special Fiat 500 Topolino and then a Fiat 1100, Vignale soon designed and built some of Ferrari’s most unique and memorable racing bodies. Vignale’s work also appeared on chassis from Alfa Romeo, Cisitalia, Lancia, Maserati, and other revered Italian marques.
Vignale’s genius also attracted the favor of legendary American sportsman Briggs Cunningham, who manufactured and raced a succession of Le Mans challengers during the early-to-mid 1950s and utilized Vignale’s expertise for the distinctive bodywork clothing both his racecars and C-3 ‘Continental’ road models. Eventual Chaparral Can-Am legend Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby, the 1959 Le Mans-winning co-driver with Roy Salvadori for Aston Martin, also selected Vignale to build lightweight alloy coachwork for the promising but short-lived Vignale Corvettes. However, this project soon raised the ire of Enzo Ferrari, who was reputedly incensed that his trusted racing body-builder would dare collaborate with an intended challenger to his firm’s virtual supremacy in GT-class racing. Of further note, Vignale was responsible for the design of Czechoslovakia’s radical Tatra 613 in 1968 and the firm was also closely associated with fast-rising Italian design legend Giovanni Michelotti during its existence.
In particular, the charming Gamine was Alfredo Vignale's personal project and produced in limited numbers by Vignale's own manufacturing plant. The Gamine was quite similar to the Fiat Jolly, based on the well-engineered chassis and mechanicals of the spunky Fiat Nuova 500 Sport, featuring retro-styled, two-seater open bodywork that uniquely recalled the delightful stylistic cues of Fiat’s popular and highly influential 508 Balila. For all-weather enjoyment, an auxiliary hardtop – a rare extra-cost accoutrement – was also available with the Gamine.
Powering the Gamine was the Fiat 500 Sport’s eminently practical overhead-valve two-cylinder, air-cooled engine displacing 499.5 cc from the Fiat 500 sport, the sporting version of the 500, and later the power unit for the Fiat 500F. Rated at 21.2 BHP, the Gamine was capable of reaching a top speed of 97 km/h or 60 mph, according to official factory data. While incredibly attractive and cheeky, the Gamine was never intended strictly for commercial success, being more of a rolling fashion statement delivering exceptional “La Dolce Vita” flair wherever one appeared. While sales were slow and only around 300 were produced according to knowledgeable estimates, the Gamine was one of the last automobiles produced at Vignale. Subsequently in 1969, Alfredo Vignale sold out to Alejandro De Tomaso, the Argentine racer and small-batch manufacturer who used the former Vignale facilities to produce his stunning Ford V-8-powered Pantera. Accordingly, precious few examples of the Gamine remain in existence today, with all survivors beloved members of many collections celebrating coachbuilt Italian cars and microcars.
This handsome little car is presented in attractive Burgundy paintwork over a freshly reupholstered black passenger cabin. It was recently acquired by the consignor from its near life-long owner, an Italian automobile enthusiast who is said to have originally imported the Gamine from Italy many decades ago. These wonderfully eccentric, hand-built pieces of Italian automotive history are now highly sought-after, continuing to attract a cult-like following by virtue of their charming character, simple mechanical package, and unique Alfredo Vignale coach building heritage. Behind the front grille and classically freestanding headlamps of the Gamine is found a compartment housing the fuel tank and spare tire, with power coming from the diminutive yet rugged air-cooled Fiat two-cylinder engine at the rear of the vehicle. Importantly, this Gamine retains its original Tipo 110F Fiat engine and it is accurately described as a great example. While the Gamine is seldom seen at auction today, this utterly charming example will surely invite attention and admiration wherever it goes, while providing a truly incomparable and fun open-air motoring experience. Complete with a top and side curtains, this 1966 Fiat Gamine 500 benefits from a recent tune-up and fitment of fresh upholstery and is known to be an absolute blast to drive.
1968 Fiat 500 Gamine