Picture yourself car shopping in the 60’s. It’s the height of the Mini Cooper’s popularity but the Mini is just a little bit too big for you. What do you do?
Buy a Fiat 500 of course, or Fiat Bambina as it is affectionately known.
The name Fiat 500 refers to the diminutive 500cc engine size which is an air cooled two-cylinder. A 500cc may not sound like much but it is more than enough when you are moving around a car weighing in at only 500kg.
Built between 1957 and 1975 they were sold as an affordable choice designed for compact sophisticated city living (parking these things is definitely not a problem).
While cycling through Italy we wanted to see if we could capture as many colour variations as possible. Most Fiats were in white or dark blue but hilariously this cheerful yellow one pulled up immediately behind us when we paused at the top of a hill for a drink break. Hearing Suyin’s excited squeal the owner was nice enough to let us take photos and even demonstrated how the sunroof folded back by hand.
All Fiat 500s are equipped with this material sunroof.
I think they looked especially good in black, like a miniature mafia car for miniature mafia deeds.
Restored or in original condition they all have their own charm. Despite being a very respectable minimum age of 40 years old you still see many driving on the streets of Italy, usually by owners of similar age.
High performance, i.e racing, models were offered through the Abarth tuning company. You can always spot an Abarth model with its distinctive scorpion logo.
Notice that the boot is propped open on this classic Abarth 695. That is actually where the engine is in all Fiat 500s (the bonnet is the boot) and in the Abarth model the cover is permanently propped open to increase airflow.
The modern incarnation of the Fiat 500 Abarth is also looking to be a future classic. Although not the quickest car it is one of the most fun to drive due to its angry exhaust note, being described as sounding like half a Ferrari 458. Have a listen for yourself.
And if you find the Fiat even too roomy? You can always buy a three-wheeled one-person micro-car like this one spotted on the streets of Rome.
Pingback: A Street Car Named Desire: Volume 2 | Days of Light