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Restoration stories

The Axel Gerstl Award for restoration work in 2014

The restoration reports of 28 participants can be found on this page.

We simply like those little cars, the Fiat 500, the Fiat 126 and the Fiat 600. And you seem to like them, too. For what other reason would you spend so much time, all your love and quite some money to bring this rusty piece of junk back to life? To acknowledge this, we decided to create the Axel Gerstl Award for Restoration, a voucher worth 1000 Euros!

I took quite a while to come to a decision. Our 28 candidates gave a really hard time to our top-class jury, Leo Aumüller, Günter Lehmann, Daniel Bartetzko, Torsten Hanenkamp, Klaus Hense, Marc Breuer, Michael Vondrovsky and Jörg Medwed. But finally the decision has been made and it is finally determined, the winner of the Axel Gerstl Award 2014:

We hereby congratulate Mr. Karl Gruber from Reisbach / Germany!

Pictures of handing over the prize can be seen here.

Have fun reading the reports!

The Axel Gerstl Web-Team

Der Axel Gerstl-Preis 2014

Restoration stories:

Andreas Kaserer - "Meine zweite Restauration - ein Steyr Puch 500S"

When Andreas Kaserer saw the little Steyr Puch 500 S, he decided to keep the poor thing from scrapping. The eager guy from South Tirol starts work and saves what can be saved. He had to rebuild many sheet metal parts and during the assembly a template helps to find the correct position of the various parts. And the very first ride takes the "little one" right on the Grossglockner montain!
Meine zweite Restauration - ein Steyer Puch 500S

Enzo Bevacqua - My 1960 Fiat 500 Giardiniera Restoration

Actually, his cousin wants to restore the Fiat Giardiniera, but then Enzo Bevacqua had to step in. At first, it seemed impossible to find a camshaft in Australia. But Enzo's father got the missing part at his vacation in Italy. The project could go on, and after 15 years the job is finally done!
My 1960 Fiat 500 Giardiniera restoration

Alfonso Zambuto - restoration of a 500L in New Zealand

2 become 1 Alfonso Zambuto thinks and proves what a skilled mechanic in New Zealand is able to do. Because the back of the 500L is not usable and the Fiat seems hopelessly lost. But a Fiat 500 F proves to be an excellent organ donor, and so both cars are welded together to form a completely new 500!
restoration of a 500L in New Zealand

Ferenc Horvath - Meine Schmuckstücke

As a true lover of Italian culture, Dolce Vita, Vespa and the classic Fiat 500, Ferenc Horváth decided to restore a Fiat 500 for his newborn daughter Isabella, and another one for himself, the proud papa. The time was right, so he got the first Fiat for little money, the second even for free. Meanwhile, half the work is done, just the car for Papa is still missing!
Meine Schmuckstücke

Jacques Pretorius - My Fiat journey

Initially it looked like a quick restoration for Jacques Pretorius from South Africa, but then the work at its Fiat 500 developed to his own personal "Fiat Journey". Jacques can’t even be stopped by "rust worms" and was fighting bravely. And finally the little Cinquecento again looks like a car. The "Fiat Journey" by Jacques Pretorius is certainly going on!
My Fiat journey

Karl Gruber - Fiat 500 Giardiniera - Die Gärtnerin

As a professional car mechanic, Karl Gruber found some major challenges is in the restoration of its Fiat 500 Giardiniera. At the beginning there’s not a single sheet metal part with no rust. He had to rebuild-made many parts by hand to fix the accident and corrosion damage as well as the indented side wall. After 3 years, the "Gardener" is again a feast for the eyes!
Fiat 500 Giardiniera - Die Gärtnerin

Kirstin Heyster - Restauration Fiat 500 Bj. 1971

For 21 years the little five-hundred stood sadly in the corner of a garage, until Kirstin Heyster discovered it. The owner and his family moved back to Italy, so she got the Fiat. Kirsten's husband promised to do the restoration within two years. Luckily for the little Cinquecento women never forget, and even less a promise!
Restauration Fiat 500 Bj. 1971

Matthew Smith - Bambina Entry 2014

When transporting his freshly acquired Fiat 500 D, Matthew Smith from Wellington, New Zealand thought: "Hopefully the trailer is big enough!" It turned out quickly, that the transport of the 500 will not be the last problem. Fortunately, the obstacles were overcome, and in the end, the Fiat got a paint job in Ferrari red. Now the little one is on the road at sunny days and makes not just Matthew smile!
Bambina Entry 2014

Nicole Schneider & Michael Brose - Restaurationsbericht Fiat 500F

Right at the test drive Michael Brose found, that his newly acquired Fiat 500 could be a problem child and that a restoration can‘t be avoided. The initial problems with the transmission and the electrical system are quickly sorted, but the body was really bad. However, no component was hastily abandoned, and at the end "Enzo", the little 500, got its second spring!
Restaurationsbericht Fiat 500F

Michael Volgger - Restauration eines Fiat 500L Baujahr 1972

When turning forty, you better stay amongst yourselves. So for his birthday Michael Volgger got himself an age-mate from Italy: "Gnocchi" was the name of the Fiat 500. Unfortunately, "Gnocchi" suffered from a cable fire, various dents, rust and other damage, so just cosmetics was not sufficient. But Michael Volgger managed to maintain "gnocchi" back to health!
Restauration eines Fiat 500L Baujahr 1972

Paolo Moretto - Ristrutturazione 500 "cinquetti"

For years, the old Fiat 500 F of Paolo Moretto’s father was used as a garage decoration. And for years Paolo Moretto from Modena, Italy was dreaming of making the small 500 ready to drive again. That finally the time was right for a restoration, he got told by an inner voice. Now there was no stopping for Paolo, all obstacles were overcome, and after 8 years of hard effort "Cinquetti" is back!
Ristrutturazione 500

Sascha Nawratil - Projekt Fiat 500

His mother has long been a fan of the Fiat 500. In order to make her 60th birthday in 2016 a joy, Sascha Nawratil has decided to restore a 500 as a gift. Three years seemed to be well enough time! But it turned out quickly that the time was very short and the easy job turned into a major project!
Projekt Fiat 500

Uwe Krämer - Restauration unseres Fiat 500L

Together, the Krämer brothers Uwe and Timo had the goal to restore a dilapidated Fiat 500 back to life. By using a specially constructed frame made of rectangular material both were saved from grueling overhead work and so their garage-project moved rapidly. After about 2,000 hours of work, the 500 looked better than expected by the brothers themselves!
Restauration unseres Fiat 500L

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Wolfgang Schmid - Restauration Fiat 500F

Wolfgang Schmid's Fiat 500 F suffered from past attempts of restoration trials from various previous owners. But thanks to his both friends, angle grinder and saw, he managed to remove all defective parts and to eliminate the traces of previous repairs. Thanks God, there are party tents, so he even can do the paintjob himself. And now Wolfgang Schmid ‘s Italo-family is complete: Vespa 150 , Ape P501 and Fiat 500!
Restaurationsbericht_Fiat_500F_2014

Douglas Comrie - restoration of a 1963 Fiat 500 Giardiniera D

Written with blood, sweat and tears Douglas Comrie tells about the restoration of his Fiat 500 D Giardiniera in his restoration report. For years, the small Fiat has been a victim of the elements and a playground for mice, rats and snakes. But fortunately Doug eliminates traces of dubious repair methods (wire, bread, plastic waste) and out of the "gardener" he makes a car again!
restoration of a 1963 Fiat 500 Giardiniera D

Markus Unhoch: - Die doppelte Restauration meines Fiat 500 F

Markus Unhoch had to rely on his own skills and resources in order to restore his Fiat 500 F not once but twice. First, the 500 is made roadworthy, later he gets a general restoration. The result speaks for itself and leaves no doubt that the combination of a car-mechanic and the daughter of a painter is one of the best things that can happen to a Fiat 500!
Die doppelte Restauration meines Fiat 500 F

Milan Mitrovic - Der Kauf einer klein/großen Leidenschaft

With the acquisition and the subsequent restoration of its Fiat 500, Milan Mitrovic also bought a new big (or "small") passion. His chic yellow 500s made it on the cover of the internet car market on www.bremen.de. The former restoration project has become a local celebrity!
Der Kauf einer klein/großen Leidenschaft

Ioannis Kokonás - Restauration eines Fiat 500 D 1962.pdf

This little Fiat 500 D had to endure many accidents and numerous shoddy repair works. Just before the final scrapping, Ioannis Kokonas took the challenge and re-build the five-hundred, partly in demanding manual labor. εύγε ο κ. Κοκώνás!
Restauration eines Fiat 500 D 1962

Christian Leyh - Kauf und Restauration eines Fiat 500 L BJ. 1970

Right after buying his Fiat 500 L in Italy, Christian Leyh got a rude awakening. Behind the seemingly flawless appearance a highly accident-prone and in need of restoration car was hiding, much to the dismay of the ADAC. But Christian Leyh turned the rust hole into a pearl and got rewarded by the Classic Data for the restoration with a score 1!
Kauf und Restauration eines Fiat 500 L

Marco Schulz - Mein Traumwagen

For years, Marco Schulz longs back to the time with his dream car, his brown Fiat 126 Bambino, his first car. Now the memory lives on in his 126 FSM Maluch, which he restored in the Hobby Shop of the Bundeswehr to this special retro-look. The biggest fan of the small 126 is now his 12-year-old daughter!
Mein Traumwagen

Wolfgang Schelzke - Das Fiat 500 Projekt

After an accident, two previous owners and 110,000 kilometers driven, it has become time for complete restoration of Wolfgang Schelzkes Fiat 500. Together with his son and his wife, he made the little 500 a highlight in the original "Jägermeister" look with Giannini elements. Chapeau!
Das Fiat 500 Projekt

Dieter Helleberg - Restauration eines Fiat 500 R

This Fiat 500 converted from a problem child into an eye-catcher during the strenuous restoration work. He transferred the bodywork from Belgium via the Netherlands to Germany and started his attempt to create the "perfect car". He surely succeeded!
Restauration eines Fiat 500 R

Rolf Hinrichs - Restauration meines Fiat 126 A

After countless hours of work, three years of hard labors and 7,500 euros investment this rusty Fiat 126 A turned into a brand new car. Rolf Hinrichs restoration was finally rewarded by a vintage-approval and a valuation report. Correct!
Restauration meines Fiat 126 A

Johann Jucker - Phoenix aus der Asche

Like a Phoenix from the ashes, Johann Jucker created this little 500-trailer from a burnt down Fiat 500. He didn’t bring his heart to say the final death sentence for the little 500. With its restoration Johann Jucker gave him a second life!
Phoenix aus der Asche

Dean Bazley - In memory of Jim

Dean Bazley made the great dream of his much too early deceased father Jim come true: to bring the once newly acquired but in need of restoration Fiat 500 F back on the road. The car has become the great love of the whole family, a welcome guest at car shows across Australia and a winner of numerous awards. No doubt: Jim would certainly be very proud of Dean!
In memory of Jim

Florian Appelt - Wie Luigi wieder laufen lernte

It was a gift for his 18th birthday and for many years a faithful companion, but then it’s close to the final end after a visit at the TÜV: Florian Appelt’s Fiat 500 R. In the subsequent complete restoration all "Italian repair methods" were eliminated. After 1 ½ years, the little 500cc looks like new, and is allowed to be driven again!
Wie Luigi wieder laufen lernte

Horst Habicht - Fiat 500 Restauration

Despite nasty surprises when disassembling and despite exponentially increasing workload due to rust, Horst Habicht succeeded to bring his bright red Fiat 500 after 6 months of hard work back to road. It was fortunate that a professional was at work, so the car world has one more marvelous Fiat 500!
Fiat 500 Restauration

Kay Freudenthal - Meine Fiat 500F Restauration

For years, Gina, Kay Freudenthal's Fiat 500, was abused as a trampoline by children and rusting in the garden. Then he went into a 500 fever. Despite a hospital stay and temporary blindness, he created a pretty Giannini -style Fiat 500 after laborious work. Including TUV and a valuation report of 12,500 euros!
Meine Fiat 500 F Restauration