500 Abarth Esseesse – The Car’s The Star

3

By Chris Pollitt

A slightly different take on The Car’s the Star this time, as we’re focusing on one vehicle in particular. But when you consider its on-screen appearance was on the world’s biggest motoring show, Top Gear, you can see why we’ve chosen to shine the spotlight on it. Not only that, the car in question is also available to bid on via our new auction platform. So not only is this car an undisputed star, it could also be yours. Cars don’t get more exciting than that!

This is no normal Fiat 500 though, because such a car would have no place in a three-car hot hatch test carried out by Top Gear. Clarkson was in a DS3 Citroën, May in a Cup Clio from Renault. If Hammond was to stand any chance at all, he’d need something with a bit of grunt. As such, he (well, the producers) turned not to Fiat directly, but rather the workings of Abarth. If you’re not familiar with this name, it’s the brand that is to Fiat what Brabus is to Mercedes-Benz, or what Alpina is to BMW. A separate entity to Fiat, Abarth cars are bought from specialists franchises and serviced by Abarth-approved workshops. It might be tiny, but this 500 is big on being unique.

500, 500 Abarth, %00 Abarth Esseesse, Esseesse, Foat 500, Top Gear, TV, Richard Hammond, the grand tour, motoring, automotive, car and classic auctions, motoring, automotive, car and classic, acrandclassic.co.uk, Fiat, classic Fiat, italian car, italian

500, 500 Abarth, %00 Abarth Esseesse, Esseesse, Foat 500, Top Gear, TV, Richard Hammond, the grand tour, motoring, automotive, car and classic auctions, motoring, automotive, car and classic, acrandclassic.co.uk, Fiat, classic Fiat, italian car, italian

Furthermore, this 500 isn’t just any old Abarth. It’s the Esseesse model, which means the four-cylinder 1.4 engine is turbocharged and as such, packs a 158bhp punch. Add in the five-speed manual transmission, the taut suspension and the ‘wheel at each corner’ dynamics and you’re left with a car that will never fail to put a smile on your face. It’s not a top speed hunter. Instead, this little 500 is all about being agile, nippy and impressively nimble. Perfect, then, for the tight Italian roads around which the episode of Top Gear was centred.

During the episode, the car was rallied around Italy, it was used in a strange scavenger hunt involving ice, a stuffed toy and some shrubbery, and then finally it was hooned around the Monaco circuit with Red Bull F1 boss, Christian Horner, in the passenger seat. Brand new at the time, this was one hell of an introduction to the world! But after the cameras had stopped rolling, and once the car was shipped back to the UK, what became of it?

As a press car for Fiat/Abarth, the 500 did a circuit of the motoring press, featuring in myriad road tests and features. Once it had satisfied the needs of the media, it was sold in 2013 to the very people who still own it today. Obviously aware of the car’s significant provenance, they have kept the miles down (just 33k) and the care up. The car has been restored, by which we mean the body and interior have been brought back to as new condition, as have the wheels and tyres etc. It’s pretty much a new car now, and despite Hammond filling it with bicycles and other detritus, there is no evidence of it now. Instead, this 500 Abarth stands as a prime example of one of the best hot hatches of recent years, in near perfect order and with a history that other cars can only dream of. And to think, this very 500 Abarth could be yours. All you need to do is bid.

Enjoyed this article?

Sign up to our weekly newsletter to receive the latest articles, news, classic cars, auctions and events every Thursday - compiled expertly by the Car & Classic team