• A Popular Classic: The Fiat 500 Story

A Popular Classic: The Fiat 500 Story

  • Published: 3 February 2020

The Fiat 500 is one of those cars that command cult status. An icon of the automotive world, the Fiat 500 won the hearts of the people when it first rolled off of the Italian firm's production lines back in the ‘50s. In a history that involves several incarnations of the model, the Fiat 500, albeit in a new guise, is still as popular as ever.

Designed to be a practical and inexpensive car that was versatile, it was rear engined, had four seats and two doors. Visually very small, it’s total length equated to 2.97 metres and at the very end of this floor pan was a 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine.

It was one of the first true city cars to be designed for this purpose. Small, easy to park, nimble and easy on fuel, it proved to be an instant hit. A post-war Italy, the Fiat 500 was a sign of the times. Similar to the circumstances that resulted in Austins Mini, consumers were looking for more fuel-efficient cars.

The 500 delivered on this brief in true style. An attractive two-door coupe-style body which featured a sunroof, the Fiat 500 was produced in large numbers between 1957–1975 and in that time, 3,893,294 examples made their way off of the production line. It was at Fiats now-iconic Turin facility which infamously features a bespoke test track on its roof. This can be seen in the 1960’s crime caper classic, The Italian Job.
Cheap to produce thanks in part to the rudimental design, which featured steel wheels, simple body panels and uncomplicated gearboxes and engine components, it’s easy to see why the Fiat 500 proved so popular.

Naturally, as the popularity of the model grew, so did the product line up with more advanced versions of the 500 seeing the light of day. One particular highlight was the Abarth 500. Fiats more bespoke and sporting arm, Abarth is renowned for adding flair to Fiat models and in the 500, this recipe was no different.

Giving the model a complete overhaul from both a styling and mechanical perspective, the Abarth packed more of a punch. Power was up from 479cc to a comparably mighty 689.5 cc which resulted in a new top speed of around 87 mph. Called the Abarth 695 SS it was produced between 1964–1971 and relatively few were ever produced with numbers reported to be as low as 1,000 units. Today it’s rumoured only 150 still exist.

Production of the original 500 ceased in 1975. However, 32 years later, the Fiat 500 would return to popular and critical acclaim. With production of the new Fiat 500 starting in 2007 it is now one of Fiats bestsellers whilst taking design inspiration from the original. A popular and common sight on Britains roads, the legacy of the original and much loved Fiat 500 still lives on today.

At St Michaels Garage we are proud to stock a fantastic selection of quality used cars. Within this selection, we have several Fiat 500's in a variety of different specifications. Whatever you are looking for from your next car, you are sure to find it at St Michaels Garage.