The world’s smallest six-wheeler, the Fiat Panda is truly unique

In the ’80s Horst Koch from Classic Cottage had a crazy idea with six wheels. Originally built 35 years ago and recently extensively renovated, the small and agile pickup fits perfectly in panda mania. We spoke to Linda Koch about this unique panda.

Do you think Gianni Agnelli had any idea what the little Fiat Panda could carry every day into the future? Classic Driver dealer Horst Koch apparently did. Back in the ’80s, he was still Heilbronn’s authorized dealer for Fiat, Lancia and Ferrari and had a wild vision of turning the SUV into a pickup truck. It was to be produced as a small batch of vehicles at Autohaus Koch and used, among other things, as a corporate promotional tool. Unfortunately, the partner on this project passed away and so the dream seemed to be over before it even started. But, one six-wheeled panda was built, which recently underwent a comprehensive restoration and is once again causing panda mania!

“A miniature Mercedes-Benz G,” says Linda Koch with a smile. The Fiat Panda was created as a six-wheeled pickup truck in 1986 and was developed entirely in-house at the Koch workshops. The driver’s cab conforms to the standard Panda, but with an attached loading area. That’s why “he” got his own badge – KK. “The plan at the time was to create an advertising vehicle with a practical loading area.” In the same year, the pickup truck appeared before a large audience at car shows in Geneva and Frankfurt.

The pickup truck wasn’t Horst Koch’s only conversion. While he was still a Fiat dealer in the ’80s and before he moved on to trading and restoring classic vehicles, he also had the idea of ​​designing the Panda into an affordable convertible. There were few of them on the market and the demand was high: about 250 units were built, including the 4×4 version. “The Envisioned Panda Series with three axles was never designed as an all-wheel drive,” says Linda Koch. “The technical effort would have been overwhelming and would have pushed us over budget.”

The flat panda was originally sprayed blue with a red interior contrast. “We wanted to make it more modern and at the same time more subtle when we discussed the restoration. That’s why we chose a shade of gray that has a good foiling on it. We kept as much of the original as possible, like the white rims with the KK logo, which were also available as part of the tuning package. Interior at the time Finishes include black leather seats with matching decorative stitching to the gray paint An old KK stamp on the horn button and a new Koch Klassik logo embroidered on the headrests strike the historic link between Koch then and Koch Klassik today Panda celebrated its premiere in state Newly restored last year at the Concours d`Elegance in Schwetzingen.

“It just drives like a normal car,” Linda says. “Go in and experience the feeling of a typical panda.” It’s also enthusiastic about the road that the 70-hp front-wheel drive four-cylinder engine carries. “Now it is kept indoors, but when the weather improves, you will stand proudly in front of the company premises. In addition, we will use it as a regular means of transportation, because the loading area is lined with a rubber mat that can be easily submerged. For example, you can drive an engine to a specialist and there is no need to worry about dirt or oil residue.”

To say that Linda has gasoline in her blood would be an understatement, as she represents the fourth generation of a family devoted to cars. Her grandfather was an NSU motorcycle racer, and her father was a passionate rally champion with his Lancia Stratos, Fiat “Otto Vu” and a 4-liter Bentley. Linda had her first rally experience when she was two, wearing masks and goggles in an open Bentley car wedged into a baby seat specially made by her father. “I have wonderful parents and like my dad I grew up in this field.” Today she is responsible for advertising and marketing as well as a presence on social media – the Six Wheeled Panda has already found a fan base.

We hope to see a public unveiling of the Panda pickup this year. Could there be a better theater for him than the Panda 4×4 encounter in St. Moritz? “The last time he wasn’t ready!” The Kochs plan to travel from Heilbronn to Engadin in a mini caravan. The Fiat Panda 4×4 Sisley is also ready to join the party. Just getting there should be an adventure that everyone is looking forward to. And of course the luggage problem is already solved!

Photos: Dino Ezel © 2021

We are confident that the second edition of the popular Classic Driver Panda 4×4 Meet St. Moritz can be done this year. Once the date is set, we will let you know.

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