Today, SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) are part of everyday life for many families. But that wasn't the case prior to World War Two, when the very concept of the SUV remained as a prototype of limited production models.
Fast-forward to the present day, and you have a chance to get your hands on the first-ever mass produced SUV, the Fiat 600D Multipla. It's appearing for sale in Artcurial's A History of Man IV sale in Paris, tomorrow (March 1).
Boasting a quirky 1965 design, the 600D is actually the sister of the famous Fiat 500.
While sharing the same platform as the 600, the Multipla '600D' has an all-steel monocoque body specially designed for transporting people. The front suspension is different from the 600, with transverse blades giving way to coil springs to support the excess weight.
Many of the Multiplas were used as taxis, hotel shuttles and, of course, family vehicles. Inside are three rows of seats which are retractable, with the central row - in a feat of James Bond-style design ingenuity - cleverly disappearing into the floor.
Beneath its all-steel monocoque bodywork, the D series' engine capacity was increased from the 600's 633cm3 to 767cm3, and is fully refitted in this model.
According to Artcurial, the car has been carefully restored by the noted firm Lazarus & Vespucci with particular attention paid to authenticity. The SUV's bodywork has been stripped and sanded, and its mechanics restored.The engine was rebuilt, and also the clutch and gearbox. The brakes, suspension, universal joints and tires are new, while the 600D's red vinyl upholstery with white piping has been redone and its rubber mats replaced.
Aside from being an essential piece of automotive and design history, the 600Ds are also particularly rare. Many were worn threadbare and eventually scrapped in its 1960s heyday. As Artcurial says: "It is rare to find one that has not suffered ... It remains a fun car to drive, easy to clean and safe investment."
Chassis # 127582 will appear with French registration and a €26,000-30,000 (nearly $41,300) pre-sale estimate at Artcurial's sale in Briest-Poulain-F.Tajan, tomorrow.