The Fiat 500 has in various forms been a bestseller to the Italian world brand for many decades. The current generation just crossed the mark of two million produced cars.
Born from the retro hype started by Volkswagen and Mini at the end of the nineties, exactly 50 years after the introduction of the 500 Nuova in 1957 Fiat brings its interpretation of one of the largest success numbers of the brand. And although like its inspirers the new Fiat has little to nothing in common with the original, to many the new car is the most spot on interpretation of the lot of them. Of course, the new one is larger than the original from the fifties, the engine is no longer in the back and is now liquid cooled, but that doesn’t spoil the fun. Fiat’s designers manage to hit exactly the right note to make the Fiat 500 for the 21st century just as big a success as the original.
Those who know everything will be ready to slap us on the fingers, since the 500 Nuova wasn’t exactly the first either. Back in 1957 the Nuova was the replacement for an existing model from 1936. The 500A, respectively B and C, with its four pot liquid cooled engine up front, had already made way for the all new 600 in 1955. The 500 Nuova, introduced two years later, is marketed by Fiat as the first step up from the popular bubble cars of the era. To compete with the Iso Isetta and the Vespa 400, the 500 Nuova is offered in a very much downgraded version only. Even the rear seat is retracted. With its tiny air cooled two pot inline engine the little Fiat is the odd one out even at Fiat itself. Nobody, not even Fiat, can imagine that the little one will become such an enormous success, eventually not only outselling its larger brother the 600, but remaining in production for far longer as well.
In 1975 the curtains close to the car we now commonly refer to as the Fiat 500. Following the Nuova, the D, the F, the L and finally with the engine and wheel design of the new 126, the 500R, the end has finally come. The successor, the 126, is largely the same car as the 500 underneath, but with its tight, cubical body it has a completely different appearance. At its introduction in 1972, the 126 is simultaneously produced in both Italy as the new factory in Poland. Exactly the factory in Tychy that has been responsible for production of the current Fiat 500 since its introduction in 2007. The plant where in the past 11 years no less than two million examples of Fiat’s little success number have been produced and shipped to over a hundred countries all over the worl. Car of the year in 2007, still immensely popular in 2018. Best sold car for five years on a row in Europe, the Fiat 500 still has a lot of mileage in it.
Marc GF Zaan