Having never recalled seeing a European manufactured woodie, this Hemmings find is quite a surprise. Priced at $8,995, this 1951 Fiat 500 Giardiniera is listed as complete and restorable. Currently the engine and transmission reside in rear compartment. Factory brochures and diagrams are included with the car which should help in the restoration. The seller also describes the wood as being in repairable condition.
According to Conceptcarz.com, the Giardiniera model, meaning ‘gardener’ was a compact station wagon built by Fiat’s in-house Carrozzerie Speciali operation. Some had real wood on the exterior while others simply had stamped metal panels that could be painted in contrasting colors or treated in the manner of faux timber. This one clearly has has the real exterior wood which one would think would give it more value.
There is an example of a restored version that was sold twice in the Summer of 2010 at Bonhams & Butterfields, first for $35,100 and then just 2 months later for $53,235. Not too bad of a flip!
It would be interesting to know the story of how the Hemmings Fiat first came to the States. It seems that many of the unusual European cars of the era found their homes in the U.S. through a returning soldier or an impulsive buy from a vacationer.