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Fiat 500 - Classic Italian Car
The Fiat 500 - Old and New Classic Cars
The Fiat 500 is a new retro-styled car based on the style of old classic 1960s car of the same name.
This article is about the new Fiat 500 a modern interpretation of the classic Fiat 500 of the 1960s and a look at the original car, many of which still grace the streets of Italy. A new Fiat 500 Convertible version has also been launched: The "Fiat 500 C".
I rented a brand new Fiat 500 for a tour of Tuscany and Umbria in Italy and liked it so much I decided to write a review of this future classic car and a comparison with the original.
The Fiat 500
The Original Classic 1960s car
The original Fiat 500 or "cinquecento" (meaning 500 in Italian) was produced by Fiat from 1957 until 1975. The classic design was created by Dante Giacosa. It was a cheap people's car similar in concept to the VW Beetle in Germany, Morris Mini in England and the Citroen 2CV in France.
The original car is tiny at just 10 feet long with a 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine (i.e. a 500cc engine)
The new car was launched in 2007 based on the original in terms of styling, but based on the modern Fiat Panda for mechanicals.
Still Gracing the Streets of Italy
Lots of Fiat 500s (in Switzerland)
The New Car
The New Fiat 500
Beautiful classic interior with a modern chunky steering wheel and gear lever. All of the main displays are in a single large round, retro-styled pod similar to cars of the 1960s, although it is in front of the steering wheel instead of the centre of the dashboard and has some digital LCD displays along with the needles for rev-counter and speedometer.
The modern car has a good 5-speed manual gearbox and an option of a torquey little diesel engine which sounds quite sporty when pushed hard. The steering is precise and direct and it is certainly a fun car to drive. It isn't fast and does understeer a bit round the twisty roads of the Tuscan hill towns, but the torque of the little diesel engine make it very easy to drive. Parking is also very easy because of the tiny size.
The seats are firm, but comfortable and the suspension fairly stiff, but with a reasonable ride for car of its size. I was still feeling quite relaxed, even after a few hundred miles on fairly rough, twisty Italian side-roads. The rear seats are tiny and there was little room for anyone except a small child behind my seat (I am 6'2" with long legs) Access to the rear via the two doors is also quite tight and the boot (trunk) is small; big enough for a couple of small suitcases - plenty of room for luggage for a long weekend away, or even a, week for two people (see picture below).
The exterior of the car is so close the the original, although quite a lot larger, it is easy to mistake it for the original it first glance. The steel of the body work does appear to be quite thin and in just a week of driving (in Italy) it had picked up some marks from car-park knocks.
This is a cute little car with loads of character. I prefer it to the modern Mini or Beetle, but I won't be trading in my other car just yet
50 years on...
At Home in the Vineyards of Chianti
Specifications (New Car):
Three petrol four-cylinder engines are available:
1200cc: 69 BHP
1300cc: 75 BHP
1400cc: 85 BHP
There is also a special "Abarth" 135 BHP model
Specifications (Original Car):
Three two-cylinder petrol engines were available:
479cc: 21 BHP
499cc: 17 BHP
594cc: 23 BHP
weight: 500 kg (1100 lb)