The Fiat 500
(the "cinquecento" or "chin-kwe-chen-to",
from the Italian word for "500") is a car produced by the Fiat
company of Italy between 1957 and 1975 (the Fiat 500 K alone was
produced until 1977). It was designed by Dante Giacosa.
Launched as the Nuova 500 in July 1957,
it was marketed as a cheap and practical town car. Measuring
only 3 meters (~10 feet) long, and originally powered by a tiny
479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 redefined the
term "small car" and is considered one of the first city cars.
In 2007 Fiat launched a similar looking, retro-styled car,
the Fiat Nuova 500, basing it on the second generation of the
To meet the demands of the post-war market which called for
economy cars, the Fiat 500 was rear-engined on the pattern of
the Volkswagen Beetle, just like its bigger brother, the 1955
Fiat 600. Several car makers followed this now nearly vanished
design at the time and were quite successful, but only the Fiat
500 was used as the template for other car makers in Europe. The
Neckar version manufactured in Heilbronn under a complicated
deal involving NSU, was introduced in October 1961.
In Upper Austria the firm of Steyr-Puch also produced cars
based, by agreement, on the Fiat 500.
Despite its diminutive size, the 500 proved to be an
enormously practical and popular vehicle throughout Europe.
Besides the two-door coupé, it was also available as the "Giardiniera"
station wagon; this variant featured the standard engine laid on
its side, the wheelbase lengthened by 10 cm (4 in) which yielded
a usable rear seat, a full-length sunroof, and larger brakes
from the Fiat 600.
Sports models were produced by Abarth. An Austrian variant,
produced by Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the 1956-1969 Steyr-Puch 500,
had a motorcycle-derived Puch boxer twin motor, a sports model
of which was the 1964-1968 Steyr-Puch 650 TR2.
Production of the 500 ended in 1975, although its
replacement, the Fiat 126, was launched two years earlier. The
126 was never as popular as its predecessor in Italy, but was
(and still is) enormously popular in the former Eastern Bloc
countries, where it is famed for mechanical durability and fuel
There were six main models of Fiat 500 produced by Fiat
Nuova - (1957-1960)
The original 500, the Nuova, has a smaller engine than all newer
models, at 479 cc and producing just 13 bhp. The original model
also features a roof folding all the way back to the rear of the
vehicle, like that of a Citroën 2CV rather than the later roof
design which only folds half way back along the roof. The Nuova
is one of three models featuring "suicide doors". There is also
a stylish Sport version of the Nuova, which features a
distinctive red stripe and a more powerful engine, bored out to
499.5 cc from the original 479 cc engine and with a longer
stroke, thus producing an impressive 21 bhp from the same
D - (1960-1965)
Replacing the original Nuova in 1960, the D looks very similar
to the Nuova, but there are two key differences. One is the
engine size (the D features an uprated 499 cc engine producing
17 bhp as standard — this engine is used right through until the
end of the L in 1973) and the other is the roof (the D roof does
not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova). The D also
features "suicide doors".
K or Giardiniera - (1960-1977)
The estate version of the Fiat 500 is the longest running model.
The engine is laid under the floor of the boot to create a flat
loading surface. The roof on this model also stretches all the
way to the rear, not stopping above the driver and front
passenger as it does in other models of the same period. The K
also features "suicide doors" and is the only model to continue
to sport this door type in to the 1970s.
F or Berlina - (1965-1972)
The F spans two periods of 500 production, the D and the L. As
such, it is the most frequently misidentified model. Between
1965 and 1969 the F carried the same badging as the D, but the
two models are distinguishable by the positioning of their door
hinges. The D has "suicide doors": the F, produced from June
1965, at last featured front-hinged doors.
Between 1969 and 1972 the F was sold alongside the Lusso
model as a cheaper "base model" alternative. While the F and L
are mechanically very similar, the key differences are the
bumpers (the L has an extra chrome nudge bar) and the interior
(the F interior is nearly identical to the original 1957 design
while the L sports a much more modern look).
Holts Tyreweld Emergency Puncture Repair Kit from Amazon.co.uk
'"Emergency puncture repair officially approved by the national tyred distribution association. Be prepared for a puncture at any time by carrying tyreweld a quick and simple get you home repair. No wheel change is necessary. Tyreweld is suitable for tubeless tyres only. "
L or Lusso - (1968-1972)
The penultimate model, the main change for the L is a much
modernised interior (including a renewed dashboard) which
brought the Fiat 500 up to date. Greater comfort and style were
provided in this new model for the new generation.
R or Rinnovata - (1972-1975)
The last incarnation of the Fiat 500 was the R model. It had a
larger 594 cc engine, giving it a more usable power rating of 23
bhp, and contrary to many translations of the FIAT literature,
came with a non-synchromesh "crash-box" transmission. This
transmission was retained from the earlier 'F' model, unlike the
floor-pan which was from either the 'L', or later, the new 126.
It was also more comfortable, but more simply trimmed and
equipped than before — the gas gauge was omitted and only the
low fuel indicator remained. The 500 R was also a stop-gap for
Fiat prior to the launch of the Fiat 126, and when the new 126
was launched sales of the old Fiat 500 R naturally plummeted. It
sold alongside the Fiat 126 for another two years before Fiat
finally retired the 500.
Fiat previewed the all new 500 in March 2007 exactly 50 years
after the first Fiat 500 was presented.
The design of the new 2007 Fiat 500 is based on the 2004 Fiat
Trepiuno concept. This car features a distinctive retro-look
just like the Volkswagen New Beetle and BMW MINI but is
substantially cheaper than those cars, with a starting price of
€10,500 (similar to how the original Fiat 500 was cheaper than
the Volkswagen Beetle and Austin Mini). The car is 3.55 meters
long and 1.65 meters wide. Top speed is 180 km/h (112 mph). The
basic price is €10,500 in Italy; with options €15,000.
The all new Fiat
500 shown in 2007
Fiat shares the underpinnings of the new 500 with Ford for
the 2009 Ford Ka. Production takes place in Fiat facilities in
Poland, and is currently scheduled for mid 2007 with commercial
debut in September 2007.
Three engines are available. A 69 bhp 1.2 8v unit, the 75 bhp
1.3 Multijet common-rail turbo diesel, and a 85 bhp 1.4 16v
engine coupled to a 6 speed manual gearbox as found in the Panda
100HP. Currently, three trims are available the Pop, Sport and
Lounge. A fourth more basic model called 'Naked' may be put on
sale, although it is doubted whether it will be available in all
A Fiat 500 Abarth was unveiled at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show,
and it is be powered by a 1.4 liter Fire engine with an IHI
variable geometry turbocharger. The Abarth has 135 horsepower
(101 kW) and 180Nm of torque, with the option for 206Nm in
The all-new 500 received critical acclaim from many
magazines. British-magazine Car called the new Fiat
"irresistible". The car also received a full five star EURO NCAP
crash test rating.
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wonderful to see the ad for the Fiat! Love
the dog in the "convertible"!