The Topolino was one of the smallest cars in the world at the time of its production. Launched in 1937, three models were produced until 1955, all with only minor mechanical and cosmetic changes.
Fiat 500A Standard Coupe 1939
It was equipped with a 569 cc four-cylinder, side valve, water-cooled engine mounted in front of the front axle, and so was a full-scale car rather than a cyclecar. The radiator was located behind the engine which made possible a lowered wind-cheating nose profile at a time when competitor vehicles confronted the world with flat near vertical front grills. The shape of the car’s front gave it exceptional forward visibility.
Fiat 500 Convertible Coupe 1947
Suspension at the back initially depended on quarter-elliptic rear springs, but somehow buyers frequently squeezed four or five people into the nominally two seater car, and in later models the chassis was extended at the rear to allow for more robust semi-elliptic springs.
With horsepower of about 13 bhp, its top speed was about 53 mph (85 km/h), and it could achieve about 39.2 miles per US gallon (6.00 L/100 km; 47.1 mpg-imp). The target price given when the car was planned was 5,000 lire. In the event the price at launch was 9,750 lire, though the decade was one of falling prices in several part of Europe and later in the 1930s the Topolino was sold for about 8,900 lire. Despite being more expensive than first envisaged, the car was very competitively priced. Nearly 520,000 were sold.
In 1955 the mid-size rear wheel drive Fiat 600 was launched by Fiat and that would become the design basis for the new Fiat 500, the Nuova 500. The Nuova 500 is often thought, mistakenly, to be the only model 500 Fiat.
The Fiat 500, commonly known as Topolino (“little mouse”, the Italian name for Mickey Mouse), is an Italian automobile model manufactured by Fiat from 1936 to 1955.
The Fiat 500 (Italian: cinquecento, [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 (new) 500 in July 1957,it was marketed as a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 3 metres (~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, the 50th anniversary of the original 500’s launch, Fiat launched a similar styled, longer and heavier front wheel drive car, the Fiat Nuova 500
Fiat was working on a low-cost entry-level city car, to fit into its range below both the Fiat 500 and Panda, codename Topolino. Based on the A-platform used by the Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda but shortened to 3,000 mm (118.1 in) in length, the new Topolino will seat four people. This is scheduled for production in 2010
The new Topolino will be built in the former Zastava plant in Kragujevac, Serbia. Fiat said the company will invest 700 million euros to modernize the Kragujevac plant. The Serbian government will contribute 300 million euros through tax breaks, incentives and infrastructure for the new plant. By the end of next year, Fiat plans to build 200,000 units a year in Kragujevac. Capacity will grow to 300,000 units from 2010 with the addition of the B-compact models.
Fiat has unveiled the Fiat Phylla concept solar car, showing all the technology that will feature in the electric Topolino. Price is expected € 12,500
Nuova (New) (1957–1960)
The ‘original’ new 500, the Nuova, has a smaller two-cylinder engine than all newer models, at 479 cc (500cc nominal), hence the name, and producing just 13 bhp. This model also features a fabric 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, thus producing an impressive 21 bhp from the same original block.
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 standard D roof does not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova, though it was also available as the “Transformable” with the same roof as 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 was the only model to continue to sport this door type into 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.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).
L or Lusso (1968–1972)
Fiat 500 L
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, designed by Abarth, giving it a more usable power rating of 23 bhp, and came with a full synchromesh gearbox. 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 fuel 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 plummeted. It was sold alongside theFiat 126 for another two years before Fiat retired the 500. Fiat launched a similar styled, longer and heavier front wheel drive car, the Fiat Nuova 500.
Fiat 500 Ghia
Fiat 500 Ghia Jolly
Carrozzeria Ghia made a custom “Jolly” version of the 500 inspired by the limited edition Fiat 600 Jolly. As with its bigger sister, this was a chopped-roof doorless version with wicker seats, often seen sporting a canopy roof.
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). 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.
North American debut
The Nuova 500 was introduced in Mexico in September 2008. Powered by the 1.4 L 16V 100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp) engine, transmissions are dualogic for the 500 Classic, 500 Lounge and 500 Vintagetrims or six-speed manual gearbox for the 500 Sport Trim. The Abarth 500, Abarth 500 esseesse, Abarth 500C and the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari variants have been sold through independent importers. Mexico became the first country in the Americas in which the Nuova 500 is sold. The US launch was late in 2010 with first deliveries in Spring 2011; it also appeared in Canada at about the same time. In August 2011, Fiat announced that a Gucci design package will be offered for the 500 including “a hand-stitched two-tone ivory and white steering wheel”
. Such luxury editions appear to preclude any entry level market position, thereby defining the 500 model as an up-market niche product with limited prospects.
Long distance travel in 500s
In July 1958 seven Fiat 500s , including at least one 500 Sport and several Abarth-tuned 500s, contested the first and only Liège-Brescia-Liège Rally for cars up to 500cc. Though beaten by the Berkeley SE492s and Messerschmitt TG500on the opening hillclimb, the Fiat 500s showed exceptional durability, battling through this almost non-stop 3300 km event, over testing dirt-road passes in the Italian Dolomites and Slovenia, to win.
Fiat 500 Interior British drive
First place was taken by the 500 Sport of Italian Arturo Brunetto and Argentine Alfredo Frieder, second by the Abarth 500 of Luxembourgers Wagner and Donven, with 500s also taking 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 13th places. While only 13 of the 29 competing cars finished the rally, all seven 500s did, establishing the car’s credentials as a capable all-round car.
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). In April–June 2007, the same car driven by Danilo Elia ran around the Mediterranean sea for more than 10.000 km, being the first Fiat 500 to reach theSahara dunes.
Fiat 500 2012
Pricing is refreshingly low for a retro niche vehicle: $15,995 for the base Pop trim line, $18,500 for the Sport, and $19,500 for the top-line Lounge. That’s with a five-speed manual transmission on each; add another $1,300 for a six-speed automatic. Air conditioning, standard on the Sport and Lounge, is an extra $1,125 on the Pop.
By comparison, the Mini Cooper ranges from $23,600 to $30,850, while the Beetle, gone for 2011 pending an all-new version, started at $24,175 for the 2010 model. Smart, another niche contender, is strictly a two-seater to the Fiat’s four chairs, and costs between $13,990 and $20,900.
500 in popular culture
In 1995 British shoegazing band Lush recorded a tribute song to Fiat 500. The song, aptly named 500, was released on the group’s final album Lovelife in 1996. A remixed version of the song, renamed 500 (Shake Baby Shake), was released as the groups final single later that year, reaching #21 in the UK singles chart.
Free diving world champion Enzo Molinari and his brother Roberto drive a beaten-up Fiat 500 with a trailer full of diving equipment in the movie The Big Blue. Both actors and the car later featured in Japanese TV commercials for ‘Lazer 100’ gasoline.
Fiat 500 2012 USA
In The Castle of Cagliostro, a Japanese animated film starring the master thief Arsène Lupin III, he and his close friend Daisuke Jigen escape on a Fiat 500 pursuit after robbing the casino of Monaco. The car is also seen frequently in other animated iterations of the franchise, including the 1971-72 television series and the 2008 special Red Vs Green.