STEVE HOLE looks at the story of the FERVES RANGER. Pix by Carol Hardy unless marked otherwise.

A great little paddock car!

Although designer Carlo Ferrari had a famous surname he wasn’t related to Enzo’s family, a point proven when he had to call his fledgling Turin-based car company FERVES, a portmanteau of FERrari VEicoli Speciali (Ferrari Special Vehicles).

His brilliant little Ranger was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show of 1966 and met with very strong critical acclaim. Best described as quirky it was based – like so many Italian Etceterinis – on Fiat mechanicals – 499cc, 18bhp twin-cylinder engine from the Fiat 500F along Weber IMB26 carb plus the steering column, while brakes and independent suspension all-round came from Fiat 600D. Actually, the rear suspension was probably the most sophisticated part of the Ranger featuring semi-trailing arms and coil-over dampers with drive from the transaxle being by way of swing axles.

Fold down windscreen

Very austere interior

Customers could choose from rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and a four-seat passenger version or a commercial pick-up/cargo example, which had a handy around-town payload of 330kg. The 4×4 came on stream in 1967 and options included diff locks and a five-speed transmission.

The car was underpinned by a pretty rudimentary ladderframe chassis and the body was fashioned from riveted steel and aluminium panels, two ‘suicide’ doors and a fold-down windscreen. The interior was on the bare side of spartan with just the basic necessities, while flat out, if you were lucky, it could climb to 45mph.

However, what a great little bolide in which to pop down the autostrada to the shops to buy your Sangiovese, Birra Moretti, pasta and olive oil.

Lincoln Small of Radbourne Racing, more famous for their work with Abarth and for being Weber distributors, imported the Ferves Ranger to the UK for a while and remembers it with fondness although only sold about ten (he estimates) here.

However, it fared better in Italy as in all around 600 were sold by the time the factory shutters were pulled down for the final time in 1970.

4×4 version – pic by dave_7 via Flickr

A proper fun, well-built vehicle (over 500 are still known to exist), a junior Unimog or Land Rover, if you will, as it could literally go anywhere. Quite a lot were employed on vignetos (vineyards) in Italy as they could get in between the vines so that workers could check the quality of the grapes.