Editor’s Note: We love scouring the internet for reasons to spend money we don’t have on cars we daydream about owning, and these are our picks this week. All prices listed are bid amounts at the time of publishing.
Every major car-making country seems to have its own bare-bones, iconic off-roader. America has the Willys Jeep. Great Britain has the Defender. Germany has the G-Wagen. Japan has the Land Cruiser. It turns out, Italy has its own little off-roader — the Fiat Campagnola — and you probably didn’t even know about it.
The Campagnola first arrived in 1951, and was, like many of the aforementioned off-roaders, inspired by the Willys. It was cheap, it was simpl, and it has a humble 53-horsepower engine and selectable all-wheel drive; it became a staple both on the civilian and used markets within various Italian government agencies. Shortly after its debut, a Campagnola traveled across Africa from Cape Town to Algiers in one day, four hours and 54 minutes, setting a record that, according to FCA, still hasn’t been broken.
In 1973, the truck was redesigned and re-launched as the Nuevo Campagnola, and that’s the vehicle you see here for sale today. It grew in size, received a bigger engine (an inline-four that still made only around 80 horsepower) housed in a large, square engine bay that not only makes repairs easier but allows the truck to wade to depths up to 27 inches (a Defender, for reference, can wade up to 20 inches). Supposedly, the interior became a bit more comfortable and refined, but we all know the result is still a rugged, stupidly-simple off-roader. There isn’t even a glove box in there. There are, however, a couple of jump-style seats in the back, which means you can take six of your friends into the backwoods with this bad boy.
Thus, the Campagnola is up there with the ranks of those other iconic off-roaders regarding sheer utility and off-roading prowess. We love sheer utility and off-roading prowess. And there’s also an element of obscurity and authenticity to the Campagnola that’s alluring. Every trendy urban enclave is stuffed with Defenders, G-Wagens and Land Cruisers which have become little more than status symbols for the weekend warrior. The Campagnola, on the other hand, was mostly kept in its home market (and sold mainly to farmers and Government agencies) which means you’re very unlikely to see another on the road.
Which should make this clean example on Bring a Trailer a tempting proposition if you’re looking for a unique but capable little off-roader. As of writing, the car is at $9,000 with a few more days to go. It’ll assuredly see more bids before the auction closes, but at the rate it’s going, it’ll probably still sell for less than a comparable Land Rover or G-Wagen.