Cute little new Fiat 500s in gelato colors of pistachio and peach have been popping up all over the place in the U.S.A. lately as Fiat reintroduced America to the brand after leaving the market due to poor rust treatment. (Fiats had a reputation of rusting out back in the 70s and 80s when it was jokingly known as ‘Fix it again Tony’, referring to poor reliability and problems, such as rust.)
In Italy the Fiat 500 was the people car just as the Germans had the VW Bug.
The Fiat 500 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. Redesigned in 2007, it is currently distributed worldwide.
A recent trip to Italy with stops in Rome, Volterra, Lucca, Florence and the Cinque Terra region gave me the chance to hunt down some cute vintage Fiat 500s in their native habitat, namely the narrow city lanes of ancient cities designed more for horses and carriages then modern cars.
The lanes of travel laid out by the emperors of Roman and built by the conquered barbarians may all lead to Rome but the parking spots are fought over by Smart Cars, Minis, Fiat 500s and Pandas and of course Vespa motorscooters.
Finding a true vintage Fiat 500 that is over 30 years old still on the streets of Rome or Florence AND in a great spot – perhaps next a 2,000 year old city wall or at least a fine trattoria was going to be the challenge. Then add the extra challenge of promising the wife that this was going to be a romantic trip and not a photography adventure plus being with a tour guide half the time added to the difficulty – but I had success!
Imagine the looks I got from the rest of the tour looking at the wonders of the ancient world when I got excited spotting an old beat up car or motorscooter!
Here are some of my finds:
Launched as the Nuova (new) 500 in July 1957, it was marketed as a cheap and practical town car. It soon become an Italian symbol.