Rotary Engine Blasts Sleeper Fiat 600 Down the Road
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