Ferdinando Bosco spiralled into suicidal depression after losing his job, which he had acquired just a few months before, at a trucking company.
Bosco had previously spent years without a job in dire economic straits, La Repubblica reported.
He chose to end his life at the market in Villabate – a small town on the outskirts of Palermo.
He used to go to the market to help sellers load and unload their trucks in the hope of receiving small change and food for his services.
Before dousing himself in petrol and striking the match, Bosco sent a message to his daughter – who lived with his estranged wife – on Whatsapp, saying: “Forgive me for what I'm doing.”
The daughter then rushed down to the market.
“She arrived in front of the Fiat Idea but it was in flames,” a lorry driver who watched the scene unfold told La Repubblica.
“She tried to save him but there was nothing that could be done.”
Police officers had to restrain the daughter from running towards the car over fears it would explode.
Firefighters were quickly on the scene to extinguish the blaze, but by then it was too late.
“He was desperate – this suicide is a terrible blow for everybody,” said one family member. “It takes a lot of courage to kill yourself like that.”
The horrific act is being considered another “economic suicide” for Italy, a country which has seen the number of people who take their own lives surge in recent years.
Between 2012 and 2014, the number of suicides more than doubled from 89 to 201 per year.
The Ferrigni observatory on suicide reported 121 people committed suicide for economic reasons in the first seven months of 2015.
Despite the difficult economic situation in the south, economic suicide cases are more or less evenly spread across Italy.