For a little car, the Fiat 500 has come a long way. Founded more than a century ago as Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, the FIAT Group Automobiles is the largest automotive manufacturer in Italy and the sixth largest internationally.
FIAT has done more than just create and market a popular car since the introduction of the Fiat 500 (Cinquecento). FIAT has made mobility accessible to millions of people, while providing Italianstyle and innovation. Today, in countries all over the world, the Cinquecento is known for its iconic design, performance, economy and technological advancement.
Let’s take a look at how far we’ve come . . .
The Cinquecento’s story starts with the launch of the Fiat “Nuova” 500 on July 4, 1957. Italy, like the rest of Europe, was continuing to heal after the Second World War, and Italians were eager for efficient and affordable mobility.
Designed by the FIAT’s legendary designer Dante Giacosa, the historic Cinquecento offered an attainable, city-friendly automotive solution that met the needs of Italians and other Europeans. Measuring just 116 inches long and 52 inches wide, the Fiat 500’s rounded, well-proportioned lines recalled an egg, while its spartan cabin kept weight to a minimum, while providing accommodations for two passengers and 154 pounds of luggage.
The Cinquecento got off to a slow start, but its design and mission held the potential that would eventually make the 500 such an iconic vehicle. It set a standard after which millions of FIAT vehicles would be modeled. So, just a few months after its initial launch, the Fiat 500 received its first alterations. With these changes, the Fiat 500 added seating for four people and featured a more powerful engine (15 vs. 13 horsepower).
To further strengthen and differentiate the 500 range, FIAT launched the “Nuova” 500 Sport in the summer of 1958. The Sport returned to the two-seat layout and initially had a fixed roof. It also had a more powerful engine (21.5 horsepower), boasting a top speed of 65 mph. In 1959, FIAT introduced an open-roofed version of the Sport.
This is just the beginning of the story of the evolution of the Fiat 500. Check back soon to read Part Two and to learn how the 500 got to where it is today.