​The Fiat 500: a brief history​

The Fiat 500 is world renowned for its unique quirky style and its seemingly boundless popularity and success. But do you know the history behind this classic model?

In 1922, Fiat’s managing director Giovanni Agnelli organised the building of the largest car factory in Europe, the Lingotto plant, after visiting Henry Ford’s factory. His goal was to create an American-style mass production system in Italy… and it worked. As production and sales increased, he wanted to expand his business by selling small, affordable cars for ordinary people. To do this, he commissioned Dante Giacosa, an up-and-coming young engineer, to design a 2-seater small car. In 1936, measuring just 3.2 meters in length, 1.28 meters in width and weighing only 540kg, the world’s smallest car (at the time) was created and named Fiat 500 Nouvo! Although, it was often nicknamed “Topolino” meaning “little mouse” in English.

The Fiat 500 known as ‘The Cinquecento’, 500 in Italian, made its debut in Italy in July 1957. It was marketed as a small, functional, inexpensive city car which perfectly suited the post-war era. Powered by a 479cc two-cylinder engine, this small but mighty car gained huge popularity with almost four million produced from launch to 1975. ​

Produced just one year after the initial launch was the Fiat 500 Sport. This had a slightly bigger 499cc engine with 21.5 horsepower allowing for a more powerful drive. Also featured was a full metal roof with red stripes which differed significantly to the standard model using a fold-back canvas top.

Many revisions were made from the start of the 60s until 1975 including the Fiat 500D, which featured a sunroof that only folded part way, and the Fiat 500 Giardiniera which was a practical estate version. 

The Fiat 500 Lusso refined its style in 1968, with a chrome bar at the front and rear of the car and a modernised interior including reclining seats and a plastic dashboard. In 1972 the powerful Rinnovata was produced, powered by a 594cc engine with 23 horsepower. With the end of the post-war era nearing, society started leaning towards valuing luxury over affordable cars and thus the production of the Fiat 500 ceased in 1975.

…That is until 2007, its 50th anniversary, when the modern Fiat 500 was launched based on the original retro Cinquecento model! This time larger than the original and extremely customisable with over 500,000 personalisation combinations available across the exterior, interior and trims. Exploding with popularity, the Fiat 500 went on to win European Vehicle of the year in 2008, and by 2012 had sold one million units!

2015 saw the second-generation Fiat 500, with huge improvements inside and out including new headlights and new technology including an infotainment system. They also went on to release the Fiat 500C, 500X and 500L. We still have plenty of these older versions available at Glyn Hopkin here.

Fiat continues to stay ahead of the game with the release of the All-New 100% Electric Fiat 500. The chic, retro design is now enriched by zero emissions electric motoring technology and has a range of up to 199 miles on a full charge! Picking up where it left off in 2022, the Fiat 500 has retained its title as Best Small Electric Car for the City and Best Convertible for Value. You can book a test drive in this iconic EV here!

Fiat marks another step towards its push for electrification with the announcement of the new Fiat Topolino, a Citroën Ami-based electric quadricycle! The Topolino will be limited to a top speed of 28mph with a range of 46 miles, perfect for city drives. This pint-sized EV will be one of the cheapest four-wheeled road vehicles on sale in Europe. Although it's not expected to arrive in the UK, we're still excited for its release and for the future of the Fiat 500!

The Fiat 500’s popularity is unwavering, with no sign of slowing down! Find your Fiat 500 at Glyn Hopkin.


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