THE CAR AND ITS OWNER: 1967 Fiat 500 owned by Joseph LaSorsa
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING: Just as the Model T Ford fueled America's economic engine and Volkswagens helped Germans emerge from defeat, the Fiat 500 of 1957 to 1975 gave average Italians mobility, independence and economy. The "Cinquecento" was perfect for maneuvering tight European streets and managing high gas prices, so over 3.5 million copies were sold across the continent. "It has a 479 cc engine and 13 horsepower, and rides on independent suspension," LaSorsa says of his car. "It is able to deliver 50 miles per gallon and a top speed of 50 miles per hour. The total weight of 1,070 lbs. still requires 59 seconds to reach the 50 miles per hour." Low weight and power kept the early Fiat from American sales success. However, Fiat Chrysler now fields an updated retro-look 500 in U.S. showrooms, offering six different models, special editions and horsepower up to 160. LaSorsa already owned one of the first new 2012 editions before he bought his '67.
HOW LONG HE'S OWNED IT: Since May 2013
WHERE HE FOUND IT: He bought it in Pennsylvania.
CONDITION: LaSorsa says the car has more than 100,000 kilometers on it and the engine is all-original. "The previous owner had it restored in Sicily," he says. "He placed it in some local car shows, for which he won special recognition trophies." LaSorsa ordered additional parts to "put some finishing touches on the restoration."
TIPS FOR OWNERS: "Older Fiat 500s are hard to find in the northeast," he advises, "so if you come across one, take it. Restorations are pretty easy to complete and parts are readily available."
VALUE: LaSorsa values the Fiat at $18,000. "Original price was 475,000 lire, or about 600 U.S. dollars," he says.
THE BOTTOM LINE: "It's lots of fun to drive," LaSorsa says. "At many cars shows that I go to, my car gets more attention than cars that are restored for $50,000 to $60,000. I show both the 1967 and the 2012 first edition. What a difference."