Monday, September 19, 2005

Hitting The Marque

1965 to 1968 Fiat 500F (I think) with moustache badgeIt seems to me the correct badge for any given Fiat 500 is an ever-open debate. There was some recent chat on the Fiat 500 Club message board regarding the never ending confusion over this very issue. A lady by the name of Sue had posted a question about her 1966-registered Fiat 500F. She wanted to know if her 500 should sport the L-type badge (a small silver oblong on its end with Fiat written within in silver on a red background) or the D-type badge, or moustache as it is known, as pictured. At present her F apparently has the L badge, but appears to have a dimple in the front panel ready to take a "moustache". Mysterious!

You would think it would be relatively easy to badge a model of car correctly. Not so with the Fiat 500F. In fact, it seems many people mis-badge their Fiats of all types, either deliberately or out of ignorance. There are a number of factors which don't help owners when it comes to deciphering which badge your 500 should carry.

Firstly, the F overlaps with both the D and the L and never had its own definitive badge. For this reason it is often sighted with both sets of badging, or even mixtures of the two. Why the D and the F overlapped for so long, Fiat alone know, since the F clearly supercedes the D, but they did. The L at least makes some sense, given as it was the "luxury" (ha ha ha!) model.

Secondly, there are all kinds of variations on the available themes out there, largely thanks to generations of owners being somewhat 'creative' in their badging. Some of this is down to front or rear panels rotting and being replaced with incorrect panel/badge combinations, and some of it is simply because everyone seems to prefer the "moustache" badge. Owners the world over apply it to every vehicle they get their hands on, even though Fiat no longer used it after 1968. (Fortunately the previous owner of ours had acquired a "moustache", but never got around to fitting it so we retain the correct L-type badge on our '71 500F.)

I imagine there is also a degree of confusion caused by the frequent mis-selling of models. While looking to try and find something reasonably definitive to post in my initial message board comment, I found two 500D cars being sold as F-types! (The D and Nuova models are easy to spot with their "suicide doors".) For people who are new to 500s and don't know what they're looking at, this breeds misconception and confusion.

So what's the rule when it comes to correctly badging a Fiat 500 then? (If you really care, of course.) It goes something like this:

  • All D and Nuova models have the "moustache"
  • F cars from 1965 to spring 1969 have the "moustache" badge
  • F cars from spring 1969 to 1972 share badges with the L
  • L cars should never have the "moustache"
  • Same applies to the R, which has a completely new set of badges again, the front of which is apparently shared with the 126

So basically, the F should be badged by its year rather than its model letter. The rules (should you choose to follow them) are fairly similar for rear badging and number plate lamps too (pre-'69 lamps were aluminium, post-'69 were plastic), except I think the F had a different rear model badge to the L in the 1969 to 1972 run.

To put this in terms of practical examples, our 500 carries the same front badge as an L which is correct for its year (though we've cheekily added an aluminium number plate lamp because they're rare and look nicer - ours should be plastic). As for Sue, she does indeed have the wrong badge on her 1966 F. 1966 is the realm of the D badges and her suspicions about the moustache-shaped dimple in the front panel are confirmed. She now has the arduous task of scouring the world for an original Fiat moustache.

There is still some debate as to whether these should be aluminium or plastic, since most after-market moustache badges seem to be plastic though there are some aluminium versions around. Prevalent opinion is divided: For example Fiat 500 message board frequenter, "Paul 1947", refers to La Guida as saying early badges were plastic, however the equally frequent "Mike A." says he has owned two Nuovas which were in definite, genuine and original trim, both sporting aluminium badges he's certain were factory fitted.

Good luck Sue! And I hope you find the right badge!

Edits courtesy of extra information from "Paul 1947" and "Mike A." on the Fiat 500 message board. Thanks!

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