Fiat 500: The people’s car


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Vintage Fiat500 sculpture by Lorenzo Quinn

“Vroom Vroom”, the Vintage Fiat 500 sculpture by Lorenzo Quinn, installed in Park Lane London

It’s the car that represents Italy, the Italian people and the escape from a very turbulent period in history. A humble yet stylish vehicle, the vintage Fiat 500 truly represents Italian culture and is synonymous with the easy going dolce vita style.
Fiat products are developed and driven not only in Italy, but worldwide, and the vintage Fiat 500 has become a status symbol, representing chic, working class motoring.

But how did the first iconic Fiat 500 come about? It all started in 1957, with a man named Dante Giacosa. Italy had not long before been occupied by the Germans, and as the war was coming to an end, the Italians looked forward to better times. Car designers had the idea of developing cars that could be put into production as soon as the war was over. Meeting the demands of the post war market was important, and so compact, economical design was crucial. What these designers, particularly Giacosa, came up with, was the light, economical and undoubtedly charming Fiat 500.

This undisputed icon of Italian design was developed between the years of 1957 and 1975, and with its 49cc engine, it was marketed as a cheap yet practical town car. It was ideal for nipping in and out of small, narrow streets, and for squeezing into tiny parking spaces. At only 3 metres long, passenger space was somewhat limited, but this sturdy little thing could carry up to 70kg of luggage. Perfect for those fashion conscious Italians! The car was also available in a station wagon style, but it was the smaller version that found its way into the hearts of a nation.

This chic vintage Fiat 500 was used in many Italian films during the 50s and 60s, and it played starring roles next to the likes of Italy’s finest actors of the time: Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassam and Federico Fellini. As well as finding fame on the big screen, the Fiat 500 was undoubtedly the people’s car. With great fuel efficiency coupled with sexy Italian styling, it was the perfect antidote to the hard times that had been experienced by many. As the people of Italy emerged from the devastation of war, the old Fiat 500 was one of the main centerpieces of the new economic boom. Thanks largely to the Fiat strategy, Italy, which had previously lagged behind the rest of Europe in terms of car production, surged forward.

So why not experience this true dolce vita style, by driving a vintage Fiat 500 yourself? Make like the Italians in the 1950s, and get a real feel for this cute, popular car. Affordable yet stylish, this vehicle would have bought freedom to many. With our vintage Fiat 500 travel tour in Italy, you have the opportunity to drive one of these cars, before enjoying a relaxing picnic in the grounds of a 15th century Villa. Now that’s dolce vita style!


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