Reader Submissions: This Zastava 750 Is A Charming And Exemplary Micro Car Amalgamation

This Zastava 750 Is A Charming And Exemplary Micro Car Amalgamation

By Petrolicious Productions
April 4, 2017
16 comments

Photography by Milos Nikodijevic

Story by Dean Dekki

As a little intro before getting into my particular customized car—which has been modified with parts from a number of vehicles—I need to first give a brief history of the model as a whole. The Zastava 750 was a car that can be said to have motorized Yugoslavia. In a way, it was our Model T.  The 3.3 meter-long Fiat-based microcar had been used for everything back then; couples took their kids to vacations in summer, after having built their family house using the 750 to transport all the construction materials back and forth. There were so many around, that it’s no wonder that many of the owners wanted to make their cars special to stand out from the rest, as they did in Italy with over 300 versions of this little car being produced.

The spectrum of mods was very wide, from a simple swapping out of the gear knob, to some quite expensive and significant changes to the motors and other mechanicals. As you can see in the photos of my Zastava, it is one of the least “base model” examples of a 750 on the road today; it’s car full of fuoriserie parts from Fiat 600 derivates, Pininfarina, Frua, Viotii, Ghia, the names go on. And while it is changed from stock, 80% of the car is comprised of NOS parts that I’ve patiently collected over the last 10 years. Painted in ordinary acrylic paint, it has not once been polished since the 1200 man hours spent on the comprehensive restoration. I can confidently say that there are none like it anywhere! To preserve the condition of the car, it is rarely driven, usually transported instead by enclosed trailer when it is not being stored in a heated garage. After all, there are more ways than one to enjoy a car.

When I began the project, I knew that I wanted to go a bit further in my vision for the perfect Zastava. In doing so, I strove to collect as many of the rarest parts as possible to make the car a combination of the best of everything—I wanted my car to be exactly as I wanted, with the mixture of components reflecting all the different variants and options available. Parts that carried the names of companies that were engaged in creating some of the most famed Italian designs of the era. It was a long road to get to the point where it is now, one that involved countless trips visiting swap meets all around Italy for years. Collecting pieces from Pininfarina,Viotti, Zagato, Vignale, Brunsing, has been a long but fun journey, and all the parts have contributed their own flavor to the end result  Apart from the seats, steering wheel, original bolts, radio, engine, wheels, and tachometer, all parts used to build this car were NOS: the brakes, chrome, suspension, all rubber, glass, electrical systems, cooling, transmission, etc., all NOS. That did not mean they were flawless though, as some required quite a lot of attention and detailing to clean off the years before being installed on the car.

As I mentioned earlier, the car has been finished in traditional acrylic enamel single-stage paint, as opposed to the time-saving base plus clear coat treatment. Not one square inch of this Zastava’s new paint has been polished—the gloss color is the exclusive result of around 700 hours’ worth of body work. All together, around 1200 hours have been invested to make it as it is, with no detail left untouched. This long-planned project to create a car as a moving display of unusual and rare parts without sacrificing any of it’s Italian elegance is one that I am proud to have completed. Completed is not wholly accurate though, as I am constantly updating the build with newly purchased rare Fiat 600 parts as I come across them. Some are being prepared as I write this!

 

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Chrigi
Chrigi
3 years ago

Great article and photos indeed. I am a proud owner of a white Zastava 750, that I call „Schneewittchen“ which is German for Snowwhite. she‘s a stunnjng beauty and stole my heart!❤️ Greetings from Macedonia!

Ciliegia
Ciliegia(@ciliegia)
3 years ago

Bello bello! I understand your passion. In 1975, when I was on my “honeymoon” in Florence, I saw an ad in Quattro Ruote for a 1938 Topolino. I had lived in Italy a few years before and always wanted one. The car was in Treviso, in the north, so my husband and took a train to go see it. I wanted to buy it on the spot, but my husband, being a cautious person wanted to make sure we could get parts for him. So we went back to Florence and when he was satisfied we could get parts, we went back to buy the car. Unfortunately, in the interim, ACI (The Automobile Club of Italy) had changed some rule that made it impossible for any foreigner to purchase a car and drive it. So we bought the car in my Italian girlfriend’s name and drove the car back to Florence. Then we spent about 2 weeks at Emporio del Auto with their old employee, Osvaldo, searching through rooms for Fiat 500 A parts. Because Florence suffered from a flood in the 60s, there were fewer and fewer parts that survived. Osvaldo was the only one who knew where they were. It was quite an experience. He had a manual made for me and we went home with a trunkful of Fiat 500 parts. I am no longer married to that husband, but I still have Topolino. And incidentally, I was driving a Fiat 600D who I called Topo at the time. I suspect that my ex-mother-in-law, (who never liked me) totalled him when I was out of town. But I wanted him to live on. So I gave away all his usable parts to a man who owned an Italian parts company in Glendale. He put Topo’s engine into a car he was building. I kept the 600D thing from the back.

Francisco Yantorno
Francisco Yantorno(@fyantorno)
3 years ago

Congratulations! That’s a lovely example you have there! I had a Fiat 600, 1970s. Same engine!

faefe
faefe
4 years ago

dam that is the coolest little auto i’ve seen in a long time….

Willam Giltzow
Willam Giltzow(@billgiltzow)
4 years ago

Fiat built entire factories for the Yugoslavian government in Zastava, for the production of this car and some later models as well. Witness the “Yugo” in the USA. It was a Zastava 128.

Tata
Tata
4 years ago
Reply to  Willam Giltzow

No. “Yugo” is USA was entirely designed by Zastava (with FIat components, of course). “Zastava 128” as you call it never made to North America. It was a hatchback version of Fiat 128 and it was sold in Yugoslavia and exported to Eastern block, Middle East and Africa…

Jay Skinner
Jay Skinner
4 years ago

Its just an older model Fiat 500 or the 600 with a larger engine. Unless Fiat sold the rights and molds might be a copy infringement.

Dean Dekki
Dean Dekki(@dean_dekki)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jay Skinner

500 has nothing to do with 600. Also, 600 is older then 500. If you knew anything about Fiat cars, you would not even mention copy infringement.

Baron
Baron
4 years ago

Where did you find the rear pop out windows? Or did you have them made?

Dean Dekki
Dean Dekki(@dean_dekki)
4 years ago
Reply to  Baron

A rare find in Italy. Never ever saw one more pair again. For sale or on the car, never.

Stephan P
Stephan P
4 years ago

Beautiful car and I love all the period accessories.
True there are many ways to enjoy a car but I can’t identify with not driving it.
Part of classic car stewardship is being able to share it others, how many people can enjoy it if it is garaged and trailered?

Dean Dekki
Dean Dekki(@dean_dekki)
4 years ago
Reply to  Stephan P

It is taken to many car shows, so people can enjoy it. I also have another 600 for daily driving, which is also waaaay above average, but far away from this one. 90%’s of all cars worth even 100 times more do not receive such restoration as this one did. That is the only reason why it will remain at 0 mileage.

Christopher Cook
Christopher Cook(@cc8711194)
4 years ago

Great job , one of my favourite cars , but please change the steering wheel to a Nardi classic .

Dean Dekki
Dean Dekki(@dean_dekki)
4 years ago

Thanks for a suggestion, but I only used spares that were not only period correct, but also used on any of the 300+ versions of the 600. I am not aware that Nardi supplied any of them with their steering wheels…

Chris DeOrio
Chris DeOrio(@chrisdeorio)
4 years ago

Beautiful Zastava. Where did you procure that coprivolante rosso?

Dean Dekki
Dean Dekki(@dean_dekki)
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris DeOrio

Belgrade flea markets 🙂