Monday, April 1, 2013

College Cars: 1959 Autobianchi Bianchina

This is College Cars, a recurring feature on the vehicles of the Academy of Art University collection. Today is April Fool's Day, so let's look at something that's silly and tiny like a clown car. This is a 1959 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformabile semi-convertible.

Autobianchi was a joint effort by bicycle manufacturer Bianchi, carmaker Fiat and tire company Pirelli to build small cars based on Fiat architecture. Bianchi actually made cars before World War II, but was hindered badly when their old factory was destroyed by wartime bombing and company founder Edoardo Bianchi was killed in a car accident. This partnership allowed the company to return to carmaking on a limited basis. The Bianchina was Autobianchi's first model, based on the Fiat 500 but kitted up with a stylish new body and more luxurious features. Among these were a semi-convertible canvas roof insert that slid back on a track to let the sunshine in. This model, called the Transformabile, was the only way customers could have a Bianchina until 1960 when the line was expanded to include other models.
This car was purchased by the Academy of Art University in 2011 and fetched a surprising $82,500.

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