Intriguingly and perhaps unexpectedly, the winner of the Cheeky Cinquecento class was an example of the Fiat's rare, licence-built cousin, a Steyr-Puch 500. Launched the same year as the regular Italian version, this Austrian-made 500 used Steyr's own flat-twin engine, gearbox, rear suspension and even the floor pan, in a curious duplication of engineering effort.
However, unlike Fiat, Steyr-Puch also built a warmed-up version which Motor magazine described, in its road test of September 10th 1966, as 'the most rapid commuting device we have ever tested'. For Fiat's version to be worthy, such an accolade would have required a trip to the Abarth tuning company and transformation into a 500SS or, better still, a 595SS or a 695SS. The Steyr-Puch 650 TR II, though, was on the factory price list.
For your £770 – rather more than you'd pay for a Mini-Cooper, although less than a Cooper S's cost – you got a smoother engine than Fiat's vertical twin, 39.5bhp instead of just 17.5bhp (half-horsepowers are important when absolute numbers are so small) and what Motor described as 'astonishing performance'. Perhaps 15.5 seconds to 60 mph and 84.9mph flat-out aren't so astonishing nowadays but matched to a 500 body shape it must have been hilarious indeed. Able to rev to 7,000rpm or more, the engine sounded 'as strident as an angry soprano'. More's the pity, then, that the ride was castigated for its pitching and bouncing, given that a regular 500 is surprisingly good on that score.