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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Design of the Fiat Nuova 500

Let's resume our look at the Fiat Nuova 500 of 1957. In this installment, with the help of Fiat Auto Group Press, we'll look at how the design of the Fiat Nuova 500 came to be.

The 1957 Fiat Nuova 500

The 110 prototype for the Nuova 500

To understand ‘how’ and why the Nuova 500 was born, we have to think not of a mere substitute for the old Topolino (509,650 units between 1936-1955), or of a model that was able to compete with a scooter, in terms of costs and efficiency. Fiat obviously decided to do ‘something’ better. The strategic planning of models had begun again, after the anguish and uncertainty of the war years. Giacosa wrote an interesting description of the ‘preparatory’ stage before the arrival of the car. The most important Italian automotive engineer in the second half of the 20th century, and the true father of the Nuova 500, is the best witness to these events. ‘While the 600 was still at the experimental stage,’ he said, ‘I had put people back to work on a minimalist car, even smaller and more economical. The Italians wanted cars, and they were willing to make do with even less space, provided it was on four wheels. No matter how small, a car would still be more comfortable than a scooter, particularly in Winter and in the rain. I had people sketch models of unconventional small cars that had to compete with the Vespa in particular.’

As far back as 1939, Fiat had already done some work on ‘minimalist’ cars that had remained at the experimental stage because of the war, which is what happened to ‘the first type 100 with front-wheel drive and a 500 cc transverse engine, designed in 1947’ which was never built. During the war, a prototype, known as the Gregoire, appeared in France attracting a great deal of attention, but again, nothing came of it. But at Mirafiori, the engineers knew that in Germany they were designing small cars like the BMW Isetta, which Giacosa called ‘half-way between a car and a motorcycle’, and attempts were being made to restart manufacture of the people’s car, the Volkswagen, in viable numbers.

The Deutsche Fiat company had a sort of technological antenna in Germany through its headquarters in Heilbronn and its assembly plant in Weinsberg. A technician called Hans Peter Bauhof worked there, whom Dante Giacosa defined as a man with a ‘fervid imagination, animated by a restless spirit of initiative’, adding, in what resembled a note to the personnel department, that he was ‘shy and modest, but ingenious, tenacious and hard-working’.

In 1953, the technician from Heilbronn submitted his proposal (which appears somewhat rustic from the pictures that still remain) for a small car with a single cylinder, 2-stroke engine derived from a motorcycle which, in Giacosa’s words, was ‘unsuitable for the car that Fiat wanted to build". But Bauhof’s ‘ideas for the construction of the bodywork’ were appreciated in Turin. Bauhof also sent a prototype to Turin, which Giacosa found ‘interesting for its simplicity’, but the rest of the company considered it ‘too superficial and insufficient as a car’.

When Bauhof’s proposal to use a motorcycle engine had been discarded, Giacosa continued to work on the 500 project, with the goal of ‘reduced weight, wheels, suspension and steering’. Using his common sense, half-way between starting from scratch and borrowing something from the 600 which was at an advanced stage of development, in 1954 the engineer decided ‘that the engine had to be a 4-stroke, with two cylinders in line, which is the simplest, most economical engine, and that it should be air-cooled. It may be positioned transversely, it is simple and has a high mechanical efficiency’. He entrusted the actual design to the engineer Giovanni Torrazza, ‘the only graduate working for me who knew how to draw’ and designed the bodywork himself, because ‘I was so worried about giving the car an attractive shape, a structure that was as light as possible but sturdy, and simple but economical to build’. Giacosa prepared 2 plaster models, one very similar to the 600 and the other entirely new. ‘I tried to make the sheet metal surface as small as possible’, he wrote in his book, ‘in order to limit the weight and the cost, much as I had done for the 600’.

Fiat Nuova 500 Cutaway
His description of the presentation of the two mock-ups of the 500 is involuntarily comic because, as Giacosa recalled, ‘when I presented the two mock-ups to the Professor (Vittorio Valletta, Fiat Chairman at the time) and to the small Executive Committee, they were silent and perplexed, although they gradually relaxed when they understood the various reasons for things. And because they had to take a decision, they decided to support me, and approved the new version’. In other words, in 1954, the sketch for the bodywork of the Nuova 500 now existed, and it was similar to the car we all know and not the rehashed 600 design.
1957 Fiat Nuova 500 Brochure

The start of development

Giacosa went on to say (after all, no one is better qualified to describe the events) that ‘once the bodywork was approved, the new model 110 (Fiat internal number-code name for the Nuova 500 project which adopted the ‘hundreds-based’ numbering system for the various ‘types’ and models) was discussed for the first time at the ‘New types meeting’ of October 18, 1954, attended by Giacosa, Vittorio Valletta (Chairman and Managing Director of Fiat), Gaudenzio Bono (also Managing Director and General Manager), Luigi Gajal de la Chenaje (Vice Chairman and Commercial Manager) and other representatives of company management. And on that occasion, the new car shed its project number and was given its first name, or number, the ‘400’.

At the meeting it was decided that the new model would have a power delivery of 13 bhp, a capacity of 480 cc with overhead valves or ‘higher with lateral valves’, a top speed of 85 km/h, fuel consumption of 4.5 litres for 100 km, a weight of 370 kg and would carry 2 passengers. ‘The prototype was to be approved on June 30, 1955 so that production could start in mid 1956’. At the same time, a prototype with 4 seats instead of 2 was also approved, as well as another prototype ‘but with a different, more luxurious body’ for Autobianchi (a company created out of the former Edoardo Bianchi company, set up in 1955 with capital from Fiat, Pirelli and Bianchi). Giacosa also states that the same meeting also approved: the 600 with sunroof, the 600 TV, the 600 Multipla and small van, the 1100 with a 1200-1300 engine and three new models, the 101 - 1400, the 105 - 1900 and the 112 - 2300 cc.

The meeting in the Park at Stupinigi

Nowadays, car makers try to hide their new models, keeping them even from the eyes of employees, or they organize ultra-secret clinic tests, and Dante Giacosa’s description of the presentation of the entire new range of Fiat models, including the 500, is another curious sign of the half century that has passed. It all took place not in a secluded spot, but in the park of the Royal Hunting Lodge at Stupinigi, just outside Turin. The park is open to the public and no manufacturer would use it today to present its entire range of future models to company managers, and also to its major stockholder, since ‘Avvocato’ Gianni Agnelli, Vice Chairman of the company, was also present at the meeting of October 18, 1955.

‘The new model meeting was held in the park at Stupinigi,’ and Giacosa exhibited the Fiat and Autobianchi versions of the 400 (the 500), the 600 with sunroof, the 600 estate or Multipla, the 1100, the 1400 with 1.6 litre engine, and the 1900 Gran Luce. ‘The Fiat and Autobianchi (later the Bianchina) prototypes of the 400 were approved’, Giacosa noted without further comments. Another ‘New model meeting’ was held in January 1956, and it was confirmed that production of the 400 (500) would start in the Spring of 1957, followed a few months later by the Autobianchi. ‘Someone expressed the fear that the public might find the Autobianchi more attractive and appealing than the Fiat, and prefer it’, said Giacosa in his book, ‘but we decided to set a higher price, closer to the 600, in order to limit demand to no more than 50 cars/day, since Desio (the Autobianchi plant) could not exceed that figure’. At the same meeting, a manager whose name is not known, even proposed giving the 500 to Autobianchi to produce, while Fiat built the Bianchina, but luckily for Fiat the proposal never got off the ground.

Fiat Lingotto Factory in Torino

An investment of 7 billion lire was earmarked for the project, with an output of 300 cars/day. ‘Valletta persuaded us to turn out 500 units/day of mechanical parts and bodies, but only 300 cars/day worth of other parts that were built in the subsidiary workshops in Lingotto’. The 200 per day not assembled but manufactured and available on hand were used to build up the parts stocks, and if necessary, would be assembled to create the so-called end-of-line ‘store’. The months leading up to the launch were intense, with road tests, particularly to reduce vibration and engine noise, and to increase reliability and driveability. But at the beginning of the Summer of 1957, the Nuova 500 was ready for the market.

Adapted from Fiat Group Press Release

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Some pictures of the new Fiat 500C

The New Fiat 500C

Fiat just released some pictures of the new Fiat 500C it will launch throughout Europe this spring. I was pleasantly surprised it wasn't a full convertible. I like the old fashioned sliding top. It reminds me of the Lancia Scorpion (Monte Carlo to the rest of the world) I had . With any luck we'll see it in the USA. Below are some details on it:

The New Fiat 500C

The worldwide preview of the Fiat 500C presentation will take place at the next Geneva Motorshow, March 5-15, 2009.

The new Fiat 500C comes with an electric soft top and is the same size as the Fiat 500 sedan at 139.8 inches x 64.9 inches x 58.6 inches (3.55 m x 1.65 m x 1.49 m). The 500C offers the same three power plants as the 500 sedan:

1.3 liter 75 HP Multijet Turbodiesel with a 5-speed manual transmission

1.2 liter 69 HP gasoline engine with either manual or robotized Dualogic transmission

1.4 liter 100 HP gasoline engines with either manual or robotized Dualogic transmission

A neat standard feature of the new 500C is the innovative “Start&Stop” system, a device controlling momentary engine shutdown and subsequent restarting. How this works is at every stop when shifting to neutral and releasing the clutch, the engine is switched off and then restarted simply by selecting a gear. This improves the already great gas mileage and reduces exhaust emissions.

Other neat features are the electric top as mentioned above, built in center high mounted stop light and the glass rear window. The trunk features excellent loadability with the soft top fully open, thanks to a clever parallelogram hinge device for the trunk lid.

The top is available in three colors (ivory, red and black), the 500C will be matched with several bodywork color schemes, two of which have been conceived specifically for the new car, i.e. a brilliant Pearl Red and a special Warm Grey typical of sports supercars.

The new Fiat 500C is a great addition to the 500 line up!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dante Giacosa

Before we continue with the history of the Fiat 500, let's talk about the man responsible for its design.

Dante Giacosa

Dante Giacosa became one of the most influential car engineer/designers in Automotive history. Born on January 3, 1905. He worked at Fiat from 1930 to 1970. He rose from a design engineer to Car Engineering Manager to head of the Vehicle Engineering department in 1955, and in 1966, Division Manager and Member of the Executive Committee. When he left Fiat in 1970 he remained a consultant ‘for life’.

In 1927, at 22 years of age, he graduated from Turin Polytechnic with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He joined Fiat shortly after graduating and, after a period designing diesel and aircraft engines, became Car Engineering Manager in 1933.

In that year, Fiat completed research on small car design arriving at the conclusion that in order for a small car design to be successful it couldn't be a large car scaled down to smaller dimensions (think Pinto, early rwd Toyota Corrolas and Datsun 1200's etc.). It had to be a more advanced design, designed from the start, from the inside out to accommodate passengers and luggage.

Previously, the small car prototypes Fiat had made up to then were modern, conventional designs equal to other competitors, but Fiat management wanted something better. Their design specifications called for a car that would stay ahead of the competition for many years to come, it also had to have lower manufacturing costs. This would require advanced design and engineering.

The Original Fiat 500

Dante Giacosa was the man in charge of this project, the car we know as the original Fiat 500 or Topolino (the Italian name for Mickey Mouse, meaning "little mouse"). What he came up with revolutionized small car design. It had advanced packaging with major mechanical components being placed in ingenious positions to offer the most room and give the car excellent road holding, braking , directional stability and accommodations. The suspension and braking systems were modern and worthy of a car costing much more. It had outstanding fuel economy and excellent reliability. It was also economical to manufacture with around 520,000 cars being produced between 1936 and ending with the 500C of 1955.

The 1955 Fiat 500C

Another outstanding Giacosa design during his tenure was the little known (in the United States) transverse engined, front wheel drive car patented in 1947. This car was called the 100E1. This proceeded British Motor Corp Mini (1959) and offered a short stroke four cylinder OVERHEAD CAM engine compared to th Mini's primitive long stroke overhead valve engine.

This design was rejected at the moment (1947 post war Europe) because of the high costs involved in manufacturing. However, what became clear were the days of conventional front engine/rear wheel drive platforms for the smallest cars were drawing to an end. The space used for the propeller shaft and large rear axle took up too much space in a small car. The engine had to go at either end of the car and had to encompass the transmission.

Rear mounting of the power train was not automatically adopted, though. Rear engine cars of the period where known for treacherous handling in certain conditions. This was totally unacceptable to Fiat and Giacosa.

There were two major factors that played a part in the unacceptable handling. First, the suspension design favored at the time (swing axles) played a critical role in the unacceptable handling. Swing axles undergo severe camber changes near the limit of their suspension travel. This contributes to the loss of adhesion and subsequent loss of control. Giacosa's solution was to adopt a semi trailing arm suspension design. This type of suspension doesn't undergo the severe camber changes and offers more benign handling characteristics. It was more expensive to design but shows where Giacosa and Fiat placed their priorities. It is notable that it took VW and Chevrolet's Corvair many years (and deaths) to adopt a similar semi trailing arm suspension for their cars.

The other factor was the weight and size of the engine. Once the power train went over a certain weight it was difficult to tame the inherent over steering characteristics. This might be entertaining in a sports car but not acceptable in a car made for normal folks with normal driving skill. Through careful engineering, careful placement of components and using light weight castings, Giacosa kept the weight down and minimized the impact the power train had when the car was loaded with passengers.

It should be noted that Fiat used rear engine placement on only their smallest of cars which naturally had the smallest (and lightest) engines. This concept looks like it will make its reappearance on the New 2010 Topolino, a car smaller than the New 500.

The 1955 Fiat 600

All this led to the birth of the 1955 Fiat 600 which replaced the Fiat 500C. Compared to the 500C it replaced it, the 600 had a four inch reduction in wheelbase but sat four adults as opposed to the two in the previous model. It was also lower by an inch and a half but five inches longer. An example of its design excellence is despite the bigger overall dimensions and being a four seater, the car weighed within eleven pounds of the two seater 500C.

The 1955-1960 Fiat 600 Multipla
This brings us to the next car Giacosa's brilliance was demonstrated, the 1957 Nouva 500. We'll go into the design specifics on another post. But briefly, mid Fifties Italy was still devastated from WWII and poor. Two seater micro cars/bubble cars were becoming popular. These typically sat 1-3 people and were arguably closer to a motorcycle than car. Giaoccosa came up with the Nouva 500. A real car people could afford and offered a real automotive experience and then some. Nearly 3.9 million were sold between 1957 and 1975.

The 1957 Nouva Fiat 500

From there, we have a string of legendary cars, each one advancing automotive design into the modern age. The evolutionary 1964 Fiat 850 series, the 1964 Autobianchi Primula ( the precursor to the modern front wheel drive car), the 1966 Fiat 124 series, with it modern designed Twin Cam belt driven engines (the type everyone uses today), the brilliant 1969 Fiat 128 series ( the car which most modern transverse engine front wheel drive cars are based off).

The Fiat 124 Sport Coupe

Before we leave, let's touch on the last car Dante Giacossa did for Fiat, the 1969 Fiat 128. It is a car that has influenced nearly every car on the road today.

Many auto enthusiast know and revere the BMC Austin 7 and Morris Mini. When these cars came out in 1959, they were the first production transverse engined front wheel drive small cars. They showed the dramatic space utilization that this layout could achieve. However, the layout of these cars had some dramatic disadvantages to them that limited the appeal to other major car makers.

The transmission was integrated into the engine sump and shared the same oil supply. This is not a desirable feature for several reasons. First the difficulty and expense of manufacturing. Second , servicing is much more difficult, Thirdly, engines and transmissions like to use oils with different characteristics. And an automatic transmission would be nearly impossible.

These cars also had a radiator fan driven by the engine with the subsequent radiator mounted in the right side fender well. This location was not ideal as it limits packaging alternatives.

Dante Giacosa wanted to separate the engine and transmission to eliminate these problems, so with the 1964 Autobianchi Primula he did. Up until then, most front wheel drive cars had to have the engine and motor removed to change a clutch. This car was the production test bed for Fiat to try out their front wheel drive concept originating with them in 1947.

The1964 Autobianchi Primula

It was a successful start.

Giacosa then designed the Fiat 128 series. This car was the first to combine the transverse mounted engine with separate trans axle, unequal length drive shafts, McPherson strut front suspension, short stroke Overhead Cam engine, front mounted radiator with an electric cooling fan. A full 80% of its space was devoted to passenger room. A popular advertisement for the Fiat 128 back then stated, "it's smaller than a VW Bug, but has more room inside than a Cadillac Eldorado".

The 1969 Fiat 128 Power Train

Giacosa demonstrated with the Fiat 128, that it was a viable power train layout suitable for economical mass production and offered clear advantages over its rivals. After seeing the success of Giacosa's design, other car manufacturers soon brought out their own copies of the 128.

The 1969 Fiat 128

At its peak, the Fiat 128 won more car design awards than any other car in history. A fitting tribute to a man that made life better for millions by providing thoughtful, often brilliant designs that could be afforded by the average person.

References: Fiat Press, "The New Fiat Guide" by Jan P Norbye, "Will The Real Copy Cat Please Stand Up" by Karl Ludvigsen

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The New Fiat 500C

I just received this from Fiat:
The New Fiat 500C

On Monday 16 February, don't miss the Preview of the 500C: you can be one of the first to see the images of the car and a lot of news and features. It will be really something to see.Spread the word among your friends, and invite them to the show, too.Being there it's easy: all you have to do is to register on 500 wants you and that's it!
And since beautiful things should be enjoyed in every detail, come and visit right now and you will find a lovely surprise waiting for you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 is

Here's an update on what's going on behind the scenes at Fiat500USA.

First I would like to thank all those who have visited the site. Next, Fiat500USA.blogspot has purchased the domain name of The transfer to the new site will take place in the future. At the moment, when you type into the address bar, you'll be redirected to this current site location. With this, we look forward to increasing the awareness of our site on the web.

Keep an eye on our site as we explore the new Fiat 500 and keep you updated on its progress as it makes it way to the USA.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Fiat 500, an icon of our time

To find out what kind of car the New 500 is it helps to see where it came from. The Nuova 500 of 1957 was truly a peoples car.

It offered the population of Europe a way to drive a throughly modern automobile at an affordable price. It was more than basic transportation, though. It's design was clever and ingenious and held the promise of an exciting new life to those who never had transportation before .

It is a mechanical device but took on a personality to become "bigger" than it was physically. It provided transportation to millions, enabling people to drive to places to get better jobs, offered new recreational possibilities and truly changed the lives of millions who previously didn't have access to these new life possibilities.

In the next few posts, with the courtesy of Fiat Auto Group Press, we'll trace the origin of the Fiat 500. A car Europe knows very well and is about to be introduced to the United States.

The Fiat 500, an icon of our time

Some cars go down in history for their technological or stylistic innovations. Others deserve to be remembered for the role they have played in the daily life of an entire generation or an entire country. Few succeed in combining the two: technology and sentiment. They leave an indelible mark, becoming a sort of icon of their age. The Nuova 500 is one of these. In a career lasting 18 years, from 1957 to 1975, exactly 3,893,294 were built, and it helped Italians and numerous other Europeans to satisfy the need for individual mobility that began to gain momentum from the early 1950s. The Nuova 500, even more than the 600 (1955), also brought the end of the post-war emergency period for motorization and the automotive industry in Italy, and the start of the striving for comfort, albeit minimal and economical. With the Nuova 500, and its four popular wheels, the country of the ‘Poor but beautiful’ became, or tried to be, not quite as poor (and to a certain extent it succeeded), but above all, able to move around more freely.
Dante Giacosa

The Nuova 500 also concluded the rebirth of Fiat and of its product range, after the devastation of the Second World War. Dante Giacosa, the ‘father’ of the Nuova 500, but also of the previous 500 Topolino and of numerous other models, said in his book ‘Progetti alla Fiat prima del computer’ (Design at Fiat before the computer), that when the 500 was launched on July 4, 1957, Fiat ‘realized its program of renewing its models, to replace those born before the Second World War’. At two-year intervals, the 1400, 1900, 1100 – 103, 600, Nuova 500 and their derivatives were launched on the international market. In just 10 years, Fiat had conceived and begun manufacture of four completely new basic models that had their roots in the technological culture that had grown up in its own offices and laboratories. No Italian or foreign model influenced the development of these projects. It may seem overly emphatic to underline this fact today, but it was utterly comprehensible at the time, in the late 1940s and 1950s, when Lancia and Alfa Romeo both operated autonomously in Italy and were therefore Fiat’s competitors, whereas abroad, in Germany, and above all in the United States, the domestic industry still seemed to be one step ahead in many ways.

Dante Giacosa also wrote about the launch of the Nuova 500 and said that the ‘Press Office, run by Gino Pestelli assisted by the hyperactive Mariuccia Rubiolo, wanted me to collaborate on the advertising launch’. Once the name ‘Nuova 500 had been chosen to recall the famous Topolino’, the message soon followed, with a slogan that claimed: ‘twenty years after the original 500 (the Topolino was launched in 1936), on a similar wave of success, here comes the Nuova 500, completely new, modern, less expensive, more economical, a worthy successor to the world’s first runabout, built by Fiat’. Giacosa also revealed that the term ‘Big little car’ was also coined at Mirafiori, but the pragmatic engineer commented that ‘people just called it the 500’. Fifty years after that Summer of 1957, in an age when television is even available on mobile phones, with shots and reports from all over the universe, it is entertaining to read that ‘the launch was held in great style. National television installed itself in the Mirafiori workshop on a boiling hot evening in July, and even I was invited for a live interview on the assembly line.’

18 years after that ‘boiling hot evening in July’, during which time almost 3.9 million cars were built, another very hot day dawned, August 4, 1975, the day on which the ‘last’ car, at least of the 1957-75 Nuova Fiat 500 series, was built, not at Mirafiori but at the SicilFiat plant in Termini Imerese (Palermo).

The reconstruction and conquest of the market

The Nuova 500 was not just a brilliant idea by Dante Giacosa, like the 600 and the many other cars he designed. Nor was it just a model of which millions were made, which got the mission and contents just right to fall in with the company’s programmes at the time. More than anything else, the 500 was the fruit of a strategy to develop and revamp its range that Fiat had already embarked on during the Second World War. Vittorio Valletta, Managing Director first and then company Chairman from 1946 (after the death of Senator Agnelli), asked Giacosa to start thinking of new cars that could go into production after the war while Turin was still being targeted by Allied air raids, and the Mirafiori offices were occupied by the German ‘allies-occupiers’.

But it was only in the early 1950s, and therefore when the reconstruction of the plants was well underway, that work began in earnest at Mirafiori on the new models. In 1949 the Topolino C, the last of the series, went into production, but other ‘real’ new models arrived: the 1400, a cabrio version of the 1400, the 1900 diesel, the Nuova 1100 of 1953 and its derived versions. And in 1952, in a blaze of technology, the sporty 8 V appeared, followed the next year by a futuristic turbine-powered prototype.

Fiat 8V

The reconstruction years at Fiat and the consequent development of new cars, including the Nuova 500, reflect the situation in the country in the early 1950s, when there were growing signs that the market was becoming increasingly receptive to mass motorisation. The ‘need’ for individual mobility which was answered, in Italy, from 1946 until the mid 1950s, not by cars but by two-wheeled vehicles, and particularly the scooters built by Piaggio and Innocenti, the Vespa and the Lambretta. The former, for example, from an output of 2500 units in 1946, reached its one millionth unit just 10 years later, in 1956.

In 1955, registration of two-wheeled vehicles in Italy totalled 400,000 units, an amazing record, if we think that in 1951 there were just under 40,000 licensed motor vehicles registered. The boom of the two-wheeler was an important indication of the prospects for the four-wheeled vehicle market and prompted Fiat to speed up the development of its new model. The great commitment by Fiat design engineers culminated in 1955 with the 600, Italy’s first real popular family car (between 1955 and 1970, 2,777,313 were built in Mirafiori alone) and in 1957 with the Nuova 500.

Fiat 600

From then on, Fiat’s manufacturing volumes began to soar (from an annual total of 108,700 in 1950 – the first year in company history that the 100,000 mark was passed – to almost 513,300 in 1960, and 994,000 in 1965), as well as the daily output: 1,000 units/day in 1956, 2,000 units/day in 1960 after the 500 had been on the market for three years, and 4,000 units/day in 1965 when the 850 joined the 600 and the 500. The workforce increased from 72,000 in 1950 to almost 93,000 in 1960, and almost 185,000 in 1970.

Fiat 850 Special

The boom of ‘accessible’ four-wheeled vehicles heralded the start of the crisis for two-wheelers. From 1955 (the year that the 600 was launched) registrations of motorcycles and scooters began to fall off, and by 1957, when the 500 arrived, they were just above 330,000 units/year; in 1965, the year that Fiat output first exceeded one million cars in a year, registrations of motorcycles were just above 200,000 units. In other words, if Fiat had set out to win over a potential bracket of the domestic market with its 500 and 600 to the detriment of other forms of vehicles, it had been successful. ‘Pioneering’ travel on two wheels, albeit motorised, was no longer enough in the new, more affluent Italy. The number of wheels doubled, and people wanted a roof over their heads to protect them from the weather, in other words, they wanted a car.

The level of motorisation in Italy is worth mentioning; it grew from 6 vehicles/1000 inhabitants in 1950 to 32 vehicles/1000 inhabitants in 1960 (therefore in the period of greatest demand for the 600, but above all for the 500), reaching 167 vehicles/1000 inhabitants in 1970, and leaping to 330 vehicles/1000 inhabitants in 1980, in line with the rest of Western Europe. The great task of motorising the Italians and of bringing them into line with Europe in terms of use of the car, was certainly achieved thanks primarily to the small Fiat 600 and 500, supported by the 850.
Next time, we'll explore the design and the developement of the Nuova 500. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How to post a comment or contact me...

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Best regards, Chris

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