Autobianchi was founded in 1955 by Ferrucio Quintavalle. A Milanese industrialist and General Manager of Bianchi – a firm specializing in two wheelers and commercial vehicles, he joined forces with Fiat and Pirelli for this venture. The brand was a small car specialist and eventually when FIAT took full control, became a test bed for innovative and off beat concepts which if well received could find their way into the more mainstream FIAT models. The brand’s operations were eventually integrated into that of Lancia’s and by 1995 the brand had become defunct.
The Autobianchi Bianchina was the most popular Autobianchi model by some distance. Initially launched in 1957 as a ‘Berlina’ saloon and a ‘Transformabile’ coupe, this more desirable ‘Eden Roc’ Cabriolet bodystyle joined the range in 1960. The Bianchi was largely based on the FIAT 500 but was marketed as being a more stylish and high end alternative to its mainstream cousin. The Cabriolets featured the latest 500cc FIAT motor, good for 21.5 bhp and a 100 kmph (62 mph) top speed.
Given its up market positioning, the Bianchi ‘Eden Roc’ clientele included celebrities like HSH Prince Rainier III of Monaco and George Lucas. The car is also notable as being Peter Sellers’ vehicle of choice in the original Pink Panther films. This particular example from 1967 is a third series car and is up for sale at RM Sotheby’s Paris 2018 auction.
The Autobianchi Bianchina ‘Eden Roc’ Cabriolet is a perfect example of the engaging and quirky nature of small Italian cars. Further, it encapsulates the high of the ‘60s as well as any other piece of memorabilia from that era. Photos by Kevin Van Campenhout courtesy RM Sotheby’s