Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s Gianfanco Dini’s insane Lamborghini V12 power Fiat 500 from 2013…
Excuse the massively overused cliché but every so often you see something that simply blows you away. For me, this car is just that and one of those that challenges the way you perceive all things automotive – it certainly changes the way I look at the Fiat 500. I mean, for a start, I don’t dig the original. Purists will say the iconic, air-cooled little Fiat was a game-changer, the Italian post-war answer to the VW Beetle – simple, affordable and weirdly pretty but, while that’s all very well, I still think it looks like a shitting frog. I find it a bit like the Skoda Rapide, Ford Probe or Proton Satria GTi – best forgotten.
This particular 500 though, is something else. It’s inspirational, desirable and plain bat-shit crazy. It’s art, that’s what it is – there’s just no other word for it!
It’s pretty obvious too that this particular version is quite unique, you won’t find another anywhere on the planet. The monstrous wide-arched Lambo V12-powered Fiat is also a huge testament to burning Italian passion but, most importantly, and like all the finest works you’ll find in any gallery, this one goes completely against the grain in both its concept and its execution.
Our Mediterranean chums are well known for their distinct lack of patience for anyone who messes with their home-grown supercars but Gianfranco Dini, the fella who built it, isn’t your stereotypical Italian – he looks nothing like the bloke on the Dolmio ad and he’s not one to conform to the establishment either. He’s got what you might call an ‘artistic temperament’ like a certain renaissance painter who once said, “no, bollocks it’s my Mona Lisa, I’m not going to make her smile!”
It goes without saying we had to have this car in FC, but as for the words, the bit where my own ‘temperament’ comes in, getting the full rundown just wasn’t all that simple. Gianfranco is the man behind Oemmedi Meccanica, a small, family-run Italian tuning shop famous for doing crazy things with original 500s, that much I knew. Unfortunately for me his English is about as good as my Italian, and by that I mean ‘corretta merda’ (proper shit).
Still, from what I can make out (from half a term on European languages when I was 14) this build owes as much to impeccable craftsmanship as it does to minimalist simplicity.
Technically speaking this 580bhp 4WD monster is probably the simplest car we’ve ever featured. Yes, I know it sounds ludicrous, but before you start thinking I’ve totally lost it, just think about it some more. Essentially this is a whole Lambo Murcielago chassis with a Fiat 500 body custom built around it – and that’s about it! There’s been no trying to squeeze silly engines in tiny bays, he’s already done that with a flat-6 Porker engine’d 500 and another with a balls-out Ferrari V8. What’s more there’s been no head scratching on how to adapt-down and fit those huge (and thoroughly ’90s) Diablo wheels – not a single spacer or rolled arch in sight. No, with absolutely nothing left to prove, this is a completely fresh outlook on an age-old modding problem, in fact, the actual idea is mind-blowingly inspirational in its simplicity.
Of course, there’s nothing quite so simple about the workmanship, or how it’s been pulled off. It takes an artist’s eye, big fabrication skills and some planet-sized testicles to attempt a job like this, but obviously Gianfranco has more than one of these attributes.
And then there’s just getting the project started, Fiat may have churned out over 54-million in the 28 years the 500 was in production, but they’re getting pretty thin on the ground now. There were only ever 4000 Murcielagos built too, so it’s not overly easy to find a donor car.
I guess the most important thing though is the result, and this amalgamation of Italian automotive iconography isn’t just ‘aesthetically pleasing’ it’s absolutely fucking epic. I know the phrase ‘crafted to perfection’ is banded around far to often – look at this gearbox it’s crafted to perfection, how about this sandwich? Crafted to perfection that is!
But this body really is that special, it’s a sculptural masterpiece with over 3000-hours going into making it 46cm wider at the rear and 38cm at the front to accommodate the girthy Lambo chassis and all its 4WD running gear. The custom interior is a little on the special side too and trick touches like the twin custom radiators, electric tailgate and steering wheel-mounted rev-counter haven’t gone unnoticed either.
For me it’s up there with anything you’ll see at the National Gallery or the Lourve, so I apologise that, due to the language barrier, I can only really speculate exactly why he did it.
I can’t tell you what went through his mind while creating this evocative piece of automotive art any more than I can say what Van Gough was thinking when he painted the Sunflowers or Damien Hurst when he cut that cow in half. All I know is I like it and it makes the world a more interesting place.
Company demo, dream project, or just a bit of a giggle? I have no idea why this car even exists – but we all should be grateful it does!
TECH SPEC FIAT 500
Lamborghini Murcielago V12 6.2-litre, sports exhaust, custom made 18-litre oil and water tanks, twin radiators with three rows of elements, twin electric fans, oil cooler, Murcielago 4×4 viscous 60-40% diff, six-speed Lamborghini gearbox, driveshafts modified from standard Lamborghini, sintered clutch.
Diablo OZ alloy wheels 18in, 245/35R18 (front), 335/30R18 (rear), front axle suspension with double wishbones, strut bar and anti-roll bar, rear axle suspension with double wishbones, strut bar and anti-roll bar, Murcielago discs and calipers all round.
Custom fabricated bodywork, handcrafted door mirrors, electrically operated rear spoiler and decklid, twin side air intakes, interior ventilation intake, matt grey Sikkens paint with three layers of lacquer.
Momo steering wheel with centrally mounted rev counter, depth and height adjustable steering column, modified and retrimmed OMP seats, Lamborghini instruments, central console and interior metalwork handcrafted.
Words Midge Photos Bryn Musselwhite