After World War II, the Italian government decided they needed to have an all-terrain, multi-purpose vehicle at their disposal. Impressed with the capabilities of the American Jeeps they had seen during the war in the early fifties, the Italian Ministry of Defense allowed Italian companies to submit design proposals for a new Autoveicolo da Ricognizione, or Reconnaissance Vehicle, abbreviated to “AR” for Army purposes. In 1951, the two major Italian manufacturers, Fiat and Alfa Romeo, submitted their proposals. Fiat’s AR51, designed by the brilliant engineer Dante Giacosa (of Cisitalia fame) was selected by officials over its competitor, the Alfa Romeo 1900 M, mainly due to its lower maintenance costs.
The 4-wheel drive AR51, intended to be able to roam over the Italian countryside, was originally named “Alpina” (a tribute to the prototype’s exceptional climbing abilities), but ultimately became known as the Campagnola, which translates to “country girl” in Italian – a most Italianate nickname for a serious military off-roader!
The Fiat Campagnola AR51 designed by Giacosa’s team was built around a 1900 cc overhead-valve engine, which was shared with the Fiat 1400 and 1900 sedans. For the Campagnola, the 1.9L was tuned for torque and reliability, with an output of 52 HP. The rear wheels are driven by a 4-speed manual transmission, with a selectable four-wheel drive system sending torque to the front wheels when the transfer case is engaged. Features include front and rear locking differentials, an independent front suspension, and a load capacity of 6 passengers and 120 pounds of cargo. A range of different wheelbase and passenger configurations where available to suit a variety of military needs. In the early years the Campagnola underwent various technical updates that were incorporated into the new military model that would become the AR59. Production continued for over twenty-two years with occasional updates, with over 40,000 units being produced.
This c.1961 example was imported from Europe to the United States and received a full restoration in Italian military style including a repaint in gloss olive green with paint-matched wheels, a canvas top, reupholstered brown leather seats, and more. It presents in excellent condition, with good quality paint and loads of period details. It is identified as an early military AR55ps model by its early-type front end and 1101B220-series identification number. Exterior equipment includes a matching green canvas top secured by rope and leather straps, a fender-mounted loudspeaker, yellow front driving lights, a rear steel bumper with steps, a shovel and pickaxe mount on the rear, fender-mounted black mirrors, an additional driver’s side upper mirror, front fender flares with mudflaps, a fold-down windshield, and rearward opening doors.
The interior features two front fixed seats and two inward-facing jump seats in the rear, which have been reupholstered in high quality brown vinyl. The spartan interior features a storage box with two openings behind the front seats, a mount for a full-size spare, a 20-liter jerry can mount, chrome-ringed instrumentation for oil pressure, fuel level, and a speedometer, with an additional temperature gauge and cigarette lighter mounted below the dash. Controls for the gearbox, transfer case, and locking diffs are embossed with Roman numerals and Italian instructions.
This old “Country Girl” presents extremely well inside and out, and is full of character and ready to be enjoyed. It would be a wonderful addition to a vineyard or olive grove, or for anyone who wants to enjoy La Dolce Vita out where the pavement ends.
Please note that this Campagnola AR55ps is titled as a 1982, corresponding with the year it was exported and first registered for private use.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7547
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