Featured: Rotary Engine Blasts Sleeper Fiat 600 Down the Road

Rotary Engine Blasts Sleeper Fiat 600 Down the Road

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
April 23, 2013
13 comments

The Bill behind Mr. Bill’s Auto & Cycle in Prescott, Arizona, is something of an expert on rear-engined Fiats. Having owned many 500s, 600s, Autoianchis and Multiplas over the years, he’s been offering repair and restoration services for these wonderful old Italian oddities for many years now. As a side project, he’s recently finished a rotary-powered 600 he bought as a rough project, the subject of a brief interview presented below.

Q: How did you come to own this particular car?

A: I purchased it from a guy who had started the project but moved onto another before getting too far with it. (Petrolicious briefly spoke with Scott, the man who initiated the rotary 600 build, who reports his current 600 build will house a Kawasaki two-stroke triple!)

Q: How much of the fab is your work?

A: We finished the transaxle and suspension work, which had only been roughly laid out. We machined custom swingarms and fitted a new rollcage, painted it, finished most of the interior, and did all of the other details involved in getting it road-worthy.

Q: What does the drivetrain consist of?

A: It’s a ported Mazda 12A with a VW Type II transaxle.

Q: What’s it like to drive?

A: I don’t drive it too often, but it drives surprisingly well, handling is pretty good especially considering the tiny wheelbase.

Q: It’s a real sleeper, besides that insane ported rotary exhaust note, of course. Have you ever caught any really fast cars off guard away from the lights?

A: No, I just don’t drive it often enough. I’m sure it’d hold its own though—it’ll do wheelstands in second gear with ease. It’s geared very short and runs out of puff at about 105 MPH, where it’s quite stable.

Q: Are there any other wild swaps you’ve considered?

A: I’m a Harley man, and I once considered putting a Sportster drivetrain in one, because they combine the engine and gearbox in one case, though I ultimately decided against it.

Q: Do you ever track the car?

A: I’d wanted to take it to Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Arizona and run 1/8 mile, but they recently closed down. I hear they may re-open but I’ll probably have moved onto something new by that point.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about the car?

A: Well it’s just nice to drive, and people love it at shows. All the chrome is triple-plated and it’s just finished to a really high standard.

Photography by Josh Clason

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Chris HennikerJohnny WarburtonEba NormaalneMiguel Ángel Simón FernándezGodvater Recent comment authors
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Chris Henniker
Chris Henniker

This is American hot rodding at its best.

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Johnny Warburton
Johnny Warburton

Check it out on YouTube!

Eba Normaalne
Eba Normaalne

I like Mazda and I like Fiat

Godvater
Godvater

He sounds way too bored. He isn’t a good example of classic car owners/enthusiast. Didn’t like this one unfortunately. 600 looks nice though 😉

Michael Ledwitz
Michael Ledwitz

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVER!!! I remember this car. .I saw it on ebay went it was for sale. They showed a video of the car in action. It was very cool. I have been a Fiat owner all of my life. My Grandfather was a partner in Levine Motors in Red Bank ,NJ in the 1970’s. They used to have a 124 Spider that was mounted on the wall in the dealership. It was very cool. Currently , I own a Abarth.
Drive your passion,
Michael Ledwitz

Miguel Ángel Simón Fernández
Miguel Ángel Simón Fernández

Not the first rotary powered 600. Actually I read from the great Al Cosentino that someone had installed an RX3 engine into an Abarth beating the hell consistently out of a factory BMW in Autralia and the Asian racing scene. I used to have pictures of it in my school folder, long before internet.

M I
M I

Any vids of the car?

Rip Curl
Rip Curl

Cool transplant but I would have thought a 500 would be a little more interesting than a more family like 600. My transplant hero are the guys in Italy who put a full AWD Lamborghini Murcielago drivetrain in a Fiat 500. Google it, it is out of this world.

Leucea Alexandru
Leucea Alexandru

This is the Italian pocket rocket.

japanophile25
japanophile25

The new 500 put a sour taste for the marque in my mouth, but this is a pretty crazy Fiat! Cant believe this dude doesnt drive it all the time, I would. I like this car a lot.

Niklaus Gingro
Niklaus Gingro

Cool car but this guy seems really boring. I’d drive the spit outta that car.

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

Hear hear. If I had a Fiat 600 that could do wheelies in second gear, I’d never answer “Don’t know, don’t drive it that much” to any question.

Miguel Ángel Simón Fernández
Miguel Ángel Simón Fernández

Indeed he sounds phony and even though the car has fiat 127 tires they’re not thicke enough and suspension is too high. There is no way it will handle doing 100 mph. I should because I slightly tuned my SEAT( spanish built FIAT) to reach 87 mph . The only real rotary powered abarth I know that could hold it’s own against a factory BMW looked very different.