Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ciao Hella: 1972 Fiat 500 Subaru EA81 Swap

In the basement of the 2015 LA Auto Show (live at the LA convention center through Nov 29th, 2015) there is a display by an outfit called Madness that caters to Fiat 500s, old and new.  They had a few classic Fiat 500s that were extremely modified and it got me searching for a good modified example for sale.  Find this 1972 Fiat 500 Subaru EA81 4 Cylinder Swap here on eBay bidding for $12,500 reserve-not-met with a few hours to go, located in Hialeah, FL.

The original Cinquecento was produced from 1957-1975 and had a mind numbingly slow 0.5 liter 2 cylinder engine that was slower than a Power Wheels Barbie Jeep with a dying battery.  Frankly, the only reason a stock 500 is fun to drive because of the effort necessary to keep up with the flow of traffic, an extreme example of driving a slow car fast.  However, shoving more power into the back of the 500 really makes a lot of sense for anyone who isn't afraid of dead by giant SUV.

And indeed this yellow machine has a tad more power than stock.  Under the funky rear hood lid (which is usually propped open for cooling purposes in the average tuned 500) is a Subaru EA81 flat-4, borrowed from a Subaru Brat or Leone.   It should be good for a few more ponies than the stock rating of 73 horsepower and 94 ft-lbs of torque -- enjoy flinging around the 1100 lb chassis with quadruple the stock power.

See another limoncello classic?


  1. Very nicely done! Probably a total hoot to drive. I like the relatively subdued presentation. Here is a link to another Fiat 500 engine swap, with a different angle. That one only boost power to around 40 bhp:

    As far as Death by SUV, sadly that is a threat for everything in my fleet, since I tend to stay in the 2.0 Litre and below classes. So I don't think you are any more dead if you are plowed by a 5700 lb battering ram in a Fiat 500 than in a Ford Focus.

  2. Instead of the usual something something LS1 I was thinking something something WRX turbo motor instead of the 73 hp flat 4 that was transplanted from a Brat. Maybe the turbo would take up too much room? It would kind of blow the sleeper effect to have a visible turbo and intercooler hanging out the back.... I'll show myself out...

    1. I've had Subarus with both the older single-overhead cam EA engine like the one in this Fiat, and also the newer EJ DOHC as in the WRX like you're thinking of (up until the very latest WRX generation when it was replaced - but still in the current STI). The older engines are much more compact, especially narrower left to right. I'd imagine that might be the reason they went with 74hp instead of ~230hp.

      A good compromise is the late '90s SOHC EJ22 engine which is somewhere in between in terms of packaging size. These are popular for VW swaps - conceivably because they fit well and are cheap. 135hp in stock form would be plenty entertaining in a 500, methinks.

    2. As C-Flo says, the WRX engine is really big and heavy. Zero chance of fitting in the back of a Fiat 500.

      Also, I think that we often forget how much 75hp can be. An NA Miata had 116hp and 2200lb, so 19lb per hp. The NC Miata in lightest possible trim has 14.4lb per hp. This little device, at 1100lb and 73hp, carries around 15lb per hp. All that watercooled engine hanging out behind the rear axle... It's going to be quick enough.

  3. This was on another site so it has been around a while,would be a fun toy...

    1. Yes, it seems to have a hard time finding a new owner to take it home from the pound. I'm all for tucked bumpers but I'm not so sure about the practicality of using the fenders and tail lights as the leading edge in even the most trivial of impacts. Reserve not met at 13.5 so this shop is clearly holding out for the right buyer; lots of Europeans and South Americans with disposable income spend time in SoFla so the seller likely feels that it's just a matter of time before someone with a nostalgic hankering discovers it and brings it home as their part-part-part time winter runabout.

  4. Have you ever considered creating an e-book or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based on the same theme if you’re interested. centralina fiat bravo


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