The boxily pragmatic little Fiat Panda arguably reflects the true modern Italy more than a Fiat 500 or any Ferrari you could name.
This example is a limited-edition 4x4 model from the final year of the first generation.
With a rugged Steyr-Puch 4x4 driveline, it's the Aspromonte Goat of cars.
The Panda is such a cultural phenomenon in Italy that Fiat once released a documentary about an island where Pandas outnumber the human population. The boxy original was penned by designer Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1979, and so many of them were sold over the years that you still find them cluttering back alleys in Rome or parked in a dusty yard in the countryside.
If you've ever been to Italy, you've seen Pandas all over the place. Now, here's a chance to bring home this piece of Italianata.
This 1985 Fiat Panda 4x4 Edizione Limitata is up for auction on Bring a Trailer—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos. For the original Panda, 1985 was the final year of production, and this one was refurbished in Bologna, Italy, before being shipped across the Atlantic to Connecticut.
The 4x4 version of the Panda, which launched in 1983, is an incredibly scrappy little off-roader despite modest horsepower. It came with a slightly reinforced body shell, to which was fitted an entire four-wheel-drive driveline from Austrian specialist Steyr-Puch. Yes, the same Steyr-Puch that built the original Mercedes-Benz G-wagen.
Pop open this Panda's stubby hood and you'll find—oh hey, there's the spare tire. But nestled under it is a 965cc four-cylinder engine that was rebuilt as part of the refurbishment process. It made 48 horsepower when new, and while that might not sound like a great deal, those are Italian horsepowers. They don't actually go any faster, but you get to flap your hands around and make a lot more noise when exercising them.
And you did catch the part about the G-wagen, right? This little car might be the size of Danny DeVito, but it is as ruggedly off-road capable as Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. This is 1988's Twins in car form.
The odometer shows just 38,000 miles (in the kilometer equivalent), but what really seals the deal here is the comprehensive refurbishment. Were you to flip this Panda on its roof—not a physical impossibility given the feathery curb weight—you could eat right off its underside. It is clean and tidy, and ready to get some mud on its fenders.
Never mind lusting after some Ferrari hypercar that never gets driven. A boxy Fiat with goat-like off-road ability? Now that's a proper paisan of an Italian car.
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