While the Autobianchi Italian car company was established in 1955 in a partnership with Bianchi, Pirelli and Fiat, there’s a lot of interesting history that goes back to the late 1800′s. in 1885 the first Bianchi workshop manufacturied velocipedes, ball bearings, wheelchairs, doorbells, and other items. This company has been around a long time in a variety of manufacturing pursuits.
The 1959 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformable Convertible shown in this article was made to be an economical little car. This is considered a very rare Italian micro car, that was produced from 1959 to 1961. Reportedly there were only about 10,000 of these convertible models ever produced. The Bianchina was Autobianchi’s first post war model and for the large part was based on the Fiat 500. The Bianchina Transformable was the only model available to buyers in 1959. Additional models from Autobianchi were introduced in 1960 including the Cabriolet Series I. The 1960 Cabriolet could deliver 21 horsepower.
Bianchi, founded in 1885 by Edoardo Bianchi actually started building luxury passenger cars as early as 1899. The company originally was set up as a bicycle manufacturer of the late 1800′s and like several others moved into the new upstart automobile industry.
Just as was the case with Mercedes-Benz in Germany, most of Bianchi’s factories were destroyed during World War Two by Allied bombing. Also, in 1946 the company’s founder Edoardo Bianchi died and control of the company moved to his son Giuseppe.
After the war and due to the company’s and Italy’s dire financial condition, the former Italian car company Bianchi stuck with bicycle, motorcycle and commercial vehicle production and built a new factory just for that purpose. As a side note, bicyclists will instantly recognize the Bianchi name in regards to famous professional racing and mountain bikes. It was said that Picasso had a Bianchi bicycle in his studio.
About eight years later, the partnership formed in 1954 with Fiat and Pirelli allowed Bianchi to reenter the passenger automobile manufacturing business. There was much more financial strength with the new partnership.
Fiat, long Italy’s largest car manufacturer was back at it quickly in 1945 reportedly working on an eight cylinder engine.The control of Fiat which produced much of Mussolini’s war machines however was taken away from the Agnelli family because of their close ties to the former dictator. Control was eventually turned back to the family in 1963.
The first Bianchi post war car from the new Autobianchi was manufactured in September 1957.
Autobianchi Model Styling
After the merger with Fiat, the reorganized company Italian car company focused its operations on a long-running series of upscale Fiat 500 variants. The new partnership of Autobianchi took on this form. Fiat brought to the table the technical components and knowledge, Pirelli provided the tires, and Bianchi created the bodies and actually assembled the vehicles.
The design of the Autobianchi Bianchina is credited to Italian automobile designer Luigi Rapi. Rapi had worked for Fiat at the time of the merger and then transferred to Autobianchi. When you look at the Bianchi you can certainly see the Fiat in it’s design.
The Bianchina model offered sturdy and widely available Fiat 500 mechanical components plus luxurious styles of trim for the era.
The 1954 merger with Fiat was just what Bianchi needed to produce a quality car yet still have a good distinction between it and the Fiat models.
Below are links to two additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you’ll enjoy:
1959 Autobianchi Bianchi Transformable Specifications
The 1959 Autobianchi Bianchi Transformable had a rear mounted inline 2 cylinder engine delivering 16.5 horsepower. . Transmission was four speed manual and the car offered four wheel independent suspension.
The 1959 Bianchi also offered four wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Weight came in at about 1,030 lbs and a wheelbase of 72 5 inches and the car’s total length was 117.1 inches.
Talk about getting great fuel efficiency, the 1959 Autobianchi could achieve around 42 plus MPG. At about the same time you could get about 37.5 MPG from the Nash Metropolitan. This type of fuel efficiency made these cars the perfect college car.Great fuel mileage and easy to maneuver in tight spots.
This is obviously a very easy car to fit in just about any parking space. Top speed would come in at about 60 MPH. All in all, the 1959 Autobianchi Transformable is considered one of the best examples in the world of a sturdy and reliable micro-car.
(Photos from author’s collection)