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Fiat 500
Fiat 500 front 20071020.jpg
Manufacturer Fiat
Production 1957—1975
Assembly Torino, Italy
Predecessor Fiat 500 "Topolino"
Successor Fiat 126
Class City car
Body style(s) 2-door sedan
3-door estate
Layout RR layout
Engine(s) 479 cc I2
499 cc I2
594 cc I4
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 1.84 m (72.4 in)
Length 2.97 m (116.9 in)
Width 1.32 m (52.0 in)
Height 1.32 m (52.0 in)
Curb weight 499 kg (1,100 lb)
Fuel capacity 20 L (5.3 US gal; 4.4 imp gal)[1]
Related Autobianchi Bianchina
Designer Dante Giacosa

The Fiat 500 (Italian: cinquecento, Italian pronunciation: [ˌtʃiŋkweˈtʃɛnto]) is a car produced by the Fiat company of Italy between 1957 and 1975, with limited production of the Fiat 500 K estate continuing until 1977. The car was designed by Dante Giacosa.

Launched as the Nuova 500 in July 1957,[2] 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.

Contents

History

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.[2] 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 economy.

Models

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Fiat

Nuova (1957-1960)

The original 500, the Nuova, has a smaller two-cylinder 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 original block.

Rear view of the Fiat 500 K "Giardiniera"

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".

Fiat 500 F

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 (1965-1973)

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.[2] 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).

Fiat 500 L

L or Lusso (1968-1972)

The penultimate model, the main change for the L is a much modernized 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" manual 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.

Modifications

Fiat 500 Ghia

Carrozzeria Ghia made a custom "Jolly" version of the 500 inspired by the limited edition Fiat 600 Jolly[3].

2007 model

Fiat previewed the all new 500 in March 2007 exactly 50 years after the first Fiat 500 was presented.

New Fiat 500

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. Fiat shares the underpinnings of the new 500 with Ford for the 2009 Ford Ka. Production takes place in Fiat facilities in Tychy, Poland, and was scheduled for mid 2007, with commercial debut in September 2007.

Three four-cylinder engines are available. A 69 PS 1.2 8v unit, the 75 PS 1.3 Multijet common-rail turbo diesel, and a 100 PS 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 doubtful whether it will be available in all markets.

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 PS (99 kW; 133 hp) and 180 N·m (130 lb·ft) of torque, with the option with 160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp) and 206 N·m (152 lb·ft) in sports mode.[4]

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 (5/5 stars) Euro NCAP crash test rating.[5]

Etymology

  • The nickname Fiat Bambina was coined by New Zealand business man Rob Elliot.
  • In Argentina and Paraguay it is popularly known as Fiat "Bolita" ("Little ball").

Long distance travel in 500s

  • In May 2007 a 1969 Fiat 500 ("Bambino" in Australia) driven by Lang Kidby and his wife Bev started their Fiat 500 World Expedition from Australia. Driving from Vladivostok through Russia they arrived in Garlenda, Italy in time for the car's 50th anniversary celebration. Shipping from Belgium the car set out from New York to travel all the way to Anchorage, Alaska before returning to Australia - 32,000 road kilometers in just 99 days. It is believed to be the smallest car to complete a world circumnavigation.
  • On April 18, 2005 a 1973 Fiat 500 linked Bari, Italy, to Beijing, China, in a 16,000 km journey across the whole of Russia and passing through Vladivostok. Driven for 100 days by Danilo Elia and Fabrizio Bonserio, the old and tiny car was followed along its journey by newspapers and television from all over the world. After the long journey Elia wrote a book entitled La bizzarra impresa (ISBN 88-7480-088-6) ("The bizarre exploit"), now available only in Italian and German (Echt Abgefahren, National Geographic Deutschland, 2007, ISBN 978-3-89405-834-0). On April - June 2007, the same car driven by Danilo Elia run around the Mediterranean sea for more than 10.000 km, being the first Fiat 500 to reach the Sahara dunes.

See also

References

  1. ^ Daily Express Motor Show Review 1969 on 1970 Cars (London: Daily Express Newspaper): Page 21 (Fiat 500L). October 1969. 
  2. ^ a b c "Used Car Test: Fiat 500D". Autocar 130 (nbr3818): pages 49–50. 17 April 1969. 
  3. ^ "1961 Fiat Jolly 500". sportscarmarket.com. http://www.sportscarmarket.com/profiles/2005/September/Etceterini/index.html. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  4. ^ Fiat releases Fiat 500 Abarth official details. Retrieved on 20 February 2008.
  5. ^ "Fiat 500". www.euroncap.com. http://www.euroncap.com/tests/Fiat_500_2007/298.aspx. Retrieved 2010-01-19. 

External links

Bibliography

  • (Italian) Abarth 595 695, by Elvio Deganello and Renato Donati, pub. by Giorgio Nada, 2002 ISBN 8879112872
  • (French) Album Fiat 500, di J.J. by Galkowsky, pub. by EPA Edition ISBN 285120470X
  • (French) Autopassion Hors Serie, pub. by Auto collection n. 22
  • (English) Fiat & Abarth 500-600, by Malcolm Bobbit, pub. by Veloce Publishing Plc ISBN 1-903706-69-6
  • (Italian) Fiat 500, by Elvio Deganello, pub. by Giorgio Nada, 2002 ISBN 88-7911-069-1
  • (German) Fiat 500, by Alessandro Sannia, pub. by Motorbuch, 2007, ISBN 9783613028258
  • (Hungarian) Fiat 500 - az apró, mégis óriási legenda, by Alessandro Sannia, pub. by Alexandra, 2006, ISBN 9633695554
  • (Dutch) Fiat 500 - de kleine grote mythe, by Alessandro Sannia, pub. by Rebo, 2006, ISBN 9036618754
  • (Italian) Fiat 500 fuoriserie, by Alessandro Sannia, pub. by All Media, 2003
  • (Italian) Fiat 500 (genio di un'epoca), by Ugo Castagnotto and Anna Maria Quarona, pub. by Lindau, 1992 ISBN 8871800397
  • (Italian) Fiat 500 - guida al restauro, by Marcello Lo Vetere and Italo Grossi, pub. by Giorgio Nada, 2003 ISBN 8879112090
  • (English) Fiat 500 Gold Portfolio 1936-1972, by R.M. Clarke, pub. by Brooklands ISBN 1855202468
  • (Italian), (English) Fiat 500: la Guida - the Guide, by Alessandro Sannia, pub. by All Media, 2003
  • (Italian), (English) Fiat 500 - l'evoluzione del mito, by Alessandro Sannia, pub. by Gribaudo, 2007, ISBN 9788879063852
  • (Italian), (English) Fiat 500 - piccolo grande mito, by Alessandro Sannia, pub. by Gribaudo, 2005, ISBN 8879060201
  • (Italian) I miei 40 anni alla Fiat, by Dante Giacosa
  • (Italian) Il grande libro delle giardinette Fiat, by Alessandro Sannia, pub. by Giorgio Nada, 2007, ISBN 9788879114011
  • (Italian) Io Franco Giannini vi racconto, by Franco Giannini
  • (Italian) La 500, by Romano Strizioli, pub. by Bacchetta
  • (Italian) La Fiat 500 - Storia di un mito, by Stefano Parenti, pub. by Polo Books ISBN 88-87577-26-9
  • (Italian) La Fiat Nuova 500, by Enzo Altorio, pub. by Automitica, 2005 ISBN 8886304005
  • (French) La Fiat 500 de mon père, by Lauvrey - Le Fay, pub. by E.T.A.I. 1998 ISBN 2726881785
  • (Italian) Le Giannini, by Enzo Altorio, pub. by Automitica
  • (Italian) Progetti alla Fiat prima del computer, by Dante Giacosa, pub. by Automobilia ISBN 88-85880-00-2
  • (French) Revue Technique Automobile 500, D, F, L, pub. by ì E.T.A.I.
  • (German) Schrader Motor Chronik Fiat 500 600 1936, pub. by Schrader Verlag, 1969 ISBN 3922617263


Simple English

Fiat 500
File:Fiat 500 front
Manufacturer Fiat
Assembly Torino, Italy
Predecessor Fiat 500 "Topolino"
Successor Fiat 126
Class City car
Body style(s) 2-door sedan
3-door estate
Layout RR layout
Engine(s) 479 cc I2
499 cc I2
594 cc I4
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 1.84 m (72.4 in)
Designer Dante Giacosa

The Fiat 500 is a car produced by the Fiat company of Italy between 1957 and 1975. The car was designed by Dante Giacosa. In 2007 Fiat launched a similar car, the Fiat Nuova 500.


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