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Top 10: Rear-engined classic cars

There was a time when the idea of having a rear-mounted engine was... well, if not the norm, then certainly far from unusual. Back in the 1960s, the choices seemed endless, and this now-alien layout was exceedingly popular. But there was a price to pay then, and today, the compromises seem even more marked. A rear-engined car can come with some rather unpredictable handling characteristics, for a start.

The simple truth is that a car with its engine behind the rear axle isn’t nimble, and could bite back in the wrong circumstances. But is that likely to bother the owner of a low-powered Fiat 500? Of course not. In fact, in some cases it can add to the overall character and enjoyment of the car. So let’s celebrate ten of the greatest rear-engined classics offered to us over the years, each one now a tempting choice on today’s classic car market. From just £2000 (or even less), rear-engined classic fun is easily achieved.

By Paul Guinness

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FIAT 500

Of all the rear-engined Fiats, the ‘Nuova’ 500 of 1957 is the most iconic. Measuring just under ten feet in length and boasting a 479cc (later upgraded to 499cc) two-cylinder air-cooled engine, this smallest Fiat is now a cult classic, which has meant soaring prices.

Even the most commonplace models (like the late-model 500L) will command £5000-7000 in excellent condition, whether all-original or restored to a high standard. Rare versions attract strong money too, including the useful 500 Giardiniera estate – for which you can expect to pay an extra £2000 or so.

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