Italian automobiles have a real spark.

Names like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Alfa Romeo... and of course Fiat.

And for a small but devoted group of Hawke's Bay Fiat enthusiasts that means one special model.

The Bambina.


On Saturday, like other Bambina enthusiasts all over the country, eight local members of the Fiat 500 Bambina Owners of New Zealand club, which has about 80 members, will fire up their little twin-cyclinder 500cc-powered Italian gems and take them out for a bit of a drive to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the little car.

"Yeah we'll go for a little tootle through town and head out for an afternoon tea," was how Ant Freeman of Napier put it.

He has long enjoyed the charm of the Bambina, as well as another Italian motoring name on two wheels — Vespa.

"I've got about six of them at the back of the garage."

And on the Fiat Bambina front he has secured quite a rarity.

It is a 1963 Giardiniera stationwagon — a model made between 1960 and 1975 and one of only four he knows of that are still on the road in New Zealand.

Only about 30 were ever imported and he heard about this one which was in Hamilton.
He started "chasing it" about 10 years ago but the owner kept saying no.

But two years ago that all changed and Mr Freeman finally got his hands on it, and began restoring it.


"It was like Swiss cheese but I import Bambina parts so had no problem getting the ones I needed."

It took him about a year to restore and no, it is not for sale.

It is part of an ongoing family of little Fiats and only last week he came across a 1966 Bambina in Rangiora and bought it.

"Now I just have to get it up here."

And when he and wife Sue got married back in 1983 he bought her a car — a Fiat Bambina of course.

"Used it to get to and from work every day for three years," he said.

"A cool little car — easy on gas and easy to work on."

So this weekend it is all about getting the small local fleet together and celebrating the year of 1957, when the first of what would turn out to be 3,893,294 Bambinas designed by Dante Gracosa and built between 1957 and 1975 started rolling off the production line in Turin.