Thursday, March 10, 2016

Duke’s ‘Little Mouse’ Fiat 500 for auction

1939 Fiat Topolino - Ex Duke of Westminste

This particular example, with silver paintwork and a blue leather interior, was ordered new by one of the wealthiest men in the world at the time, the second Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, way back on 14th September 1939. It was registered to the Westminster ancestral country estate, Eaton Hall, in Cheshire.

1939 Fiat Topolino - Ex Duke of Westminste
1939 Fiat Topolino - Ex Duke of Westminste

Now for sale seven decades after it was bought by its first owner, this Topolino will be offered at auction with an estimate of between £12,000 and £15,000.

The Topolino, which translates as ‘Little Mouse’, was one of the smallest cars in the world at the time of its production, and was the predecessor to the iconic Nuova 500 of the 1950s and 60s, as well as today’s popular model.

The Duke ordered his car with a 569L straight four side valve engine, with a manual gear box and in right-hand drive. Amazingly, the car has covered a total of just 1,593 miles in 77 years.

During World War II, the Topolino was transferred to the Duke’s Dublin estate while Eaton Hall was used as a hospital, as well as a temporary facility for the Britannia Royal Naval College. It was then shipped to back to Eaton Hall after the war. Upon the Duke's death in 1953, the car was transferred to the Dowager Duchess and remained part of the family until 1986 when the current vendor came across it.

“This is a remarkable little car with a fascinating past”, comments Guy Lees-Milne, general manager of Classic Car Auction. “Not only does it have ducal provenance, it has an extremely low mileage for a car of its age, making it a very rare find indeed.”

Having been with its current owner for 30 years, this special little car has benefitted from a lengthy and careful restoration, including a rebuild of the engine and a new leather interior.

“It’s amazing that one of the world’s wealthiest men would order such a modest little vehicle and a car of the people,” continues Guy Lees-Milne. “With its amazing story, and just two owners from new, we’re bound to have plenty of interest in its sale.”

For more information on this car and other classics offered in the CCA March Sale, visit www.classiccarauctions.co.uk/1939-fiat-topolino