We’ll admit, we have a soft spot for compact vehicles that are borderline impractical but punch above their weight when it comes to fun. Right up there with the Coleman minibike, the Big Wheel, and the Honda Motocompo, lies a lesser known fun-machine from the 1960s that deserves some recognition: meet the Ferves Ranger, the little Italian off-roader that could.
Unveiled at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, this quirky compact was the brainchild of Carlo Ferrari (no relation to Enzo) and his company Ferves (FERrari VEicoli Speciali), an Italian company that was known for producing small, utilitarian vehicles. At the time, the Ranger was a bit of an anomaly. Most 4x4s were large, heavy vehicles that were meant for serious off-road adventures. The Ferves Ranger, on the other hand, was small and lightweight, making it perfect for a variety of tasks. It was even available with a canvas top, which gave it a certain charm that other 4x4s didn’t have. And who doesn’t love a convertible?
The Ferves Ranger was designed to be a “go anywhere” vehicle that could tackle everything from muddy trails to rocky paths. With elements borrowed from both the Fiat 500 and 600, the Ranger boasted a 300cc single-cylinder rear-mounted engine blasting out a whopping 18 horsepower. That single thumper coupled with an all-independent suspension made it capable of tackling terrain that other microcars wouldn’t dare. But that’s just part of the fun.
The Ranger’s real party trick was its versatility. It was available in both 2WD and 4WD versions, and featured a removable windscreen and doors, making it easy to convert into an open-air vehicle. And as if we needed another reason to start scouring Craigslist for one of these, the Ferves Ranger could even seat you and three friends. Just try fitting two friends in the backseat of a Fiat 500.
Before you spend too much time on Craigslist, it’s important to note that only around 600 Ferves Rangers were ever produced, and it’s estimated that fewer than 50 of them still exist today. So it’s no surprise that the particular example seen here, which underwent a bare-metal restoration in 2018 at a workshop in Salerno, Italy, is a rare find — and is up for auction in Paris next month thanks to RM Sotheby’s. Finished in a bold shade of blue with a black vinyl soft-top roof, this Ferves Ranger stands out with mesh headlight covers, a spare wheel strapped to the rear, and white steel wheels.
If you’re hankering for a unique, mildly impractical but fun off-roader, you won’t find many options as charming as the Ferves Ranger. It may be small, but it packs a big punch and the new friends this is sure to make you can just jump in the back for your next adventure.