There have been a range of wonderful Italian cars over the years, from the Ferrari 250 GTO to the Lamborghini Miura. One of the greatest Italian cars is the Fiat 500. As a small vehicle, it can be compared to the Mini in terms of popularity. The Fiat 500 was compact, affordable and elegant. 2017 is the 60th anniversary of the Fiat 500, and we’re looking back on the history of this iconic motor.
Small and affordable
After WW2, manufacturers were competing to create the perfect small car that everyone could afford. Volkswagen had achieved great success with their Beetle and Fiat adopted a similar approach. Designer Dante Giacosa created a small vehicle that tapped into the public’s need for something affordable. The Nuova 500 was introduced in 1957 and it featured a 479 cc two-cylinder engine, fabric roof and ‘suicide doors.’ The car measured just over nine feet long and the rear-mounted engine enabled it to move around easily in an urban area. This made it one of the first ‘city cars.’
In 1958, Fiat brought out a sports version that had a 499 cc engine and all-in-one metal roof, which replaced the original canvas fold-back. This model appealed to a younger audience and made it even more popular. 1960 saw the introduction of the 500 D. New features included padded sun-visors, rubber floor mats and an internal ashtray.
Safety concerns ensured the 1965 model had a different look. The suicide doors were replaced with front hinged doors and a larger windscreen was installed. In 1968, the Fiat 500 L was brought out. Affectionately known as the Lusso, the car came with an extra chrome bumper, revised dashboard and reclining seats.
The Rinnovata was considered the final 500. It was brought out in 1972 and continued to be produced until 1975. However, this didn’t take away from the influence of the Fiat 500. It was practical and cheap, making it a popular vehicle throughout Europe.
Fiat realised the emotional appeal of the Fiat 500 and they brought it back in 2007. The new model was a four-seat three-door hatchback that had a retro style. Overall, the 2007 version was larger than the original, but retained its character.
The Fiat 500 is definitely one of the greatest classic cars of all time. What’s your opinion?