Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Mythical Fiat 500 Reborn

I had my first introduction to the Fiat 500 in 1979. As a young pup along with a friend from Idaho we packed into the back seat of a friends 1965 Fiat 500. We were somewhat concerned. The lawnmower engine strained with our extra weight. At every corner we laughed nervously as a grinding sound permeated the cabin. Although the car was not scraping the ground the lateral movement from the curve would overcome the springs tension and the wheels would rub the surrounding well.

Most Italians have owned this car. It is the first car of many. Usually third or fourth hand as the new driver made their mistakes on this indestructible toy. Production of the 500 ended in 1975 and the few vehicles still running in the 1990s became collector’s items. A piece of Italian culture was disappearing.

Fiat stopped making the vehicle because sales were failing. There were so many 500s that the market was saturated. The Fiat story is similar to the Mini Cooper and the Volkswagon Beatle, cars that were victims of their own success. No one really missed the Fiat 500. They continued to run and as the years passed they took on a retro appeal. We can thank the rebirth of the Fiat 500 to the successful re-launch of the Mini Cooper and the German Bug. The new star of automobile giant Fiat launched the new, improved, reformulated, fantastically marvelous Fiat 500.

The party was impressive. A huge platform floated in the river Po. A huge crane lowered the new model slowly into the forum where 6000 people from all over the world cheered the newest model in the Fiat stables. Fireworks exploded and the 500 sign illuminated the night sky. For 500 lovers, and for many Italians, this was a welcomed event.

The entire year’s production of 500s pre-sold in less than three weeks. Without a doubt the 500 will be a favorite among younger drivers and baby boomers remembering their toys. As a tourist it will be difficult to try one of these babies but if you have local friends a trip around the city in the Fiat 500 should be an interesting trip.


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Anonymous stefy said...

I love 500! 500blog

11:03 PM

Blogger Dianne said...

I've never owned one, but the latest version does have a certain auto sexiness to it! Very European!


12:15 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Stefy I agree.The 500 is fun.

Dianne I think the mini cooper is sexier but the 500 is really cool, perhaps because I remember the original.

10:15 AM


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