The Fiat 500 is 50 years old this year (2007). This isn't exactly news and this model already has a recently-launched substitute, yet we couldn't let 2007 end before we took this opportunity to pay homage to one of the best-loved micro-cars built to this day.
The Cinquecento first saw the light of day in July of 1957, amidst a widespread tendency to produce small and economical cars to cope with the post-war market. Designed by Dante Giacosa, this ultra-compact car was less that 3 metres (9 ft 9 in) long, was powered by a tiny 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, had two doors, a folding roof and clean and elegant lines. Such was the first version of the 500, named the Nuova (curiously enough this was also the name given to the 2007 version).
Various other models were produced until the last vehicle left the assembly line in 1975. The D model became immensely popular. Without the folding roof, it had, however, a more powerful engine than the Nuova and the famous 'suicide doors'. Also particularly interesting was the K model, also known as the Giardiniera. With a few engine and chassis modifications, the new 500 Abarth has already revealed its versatility and competitiveness.
It's undeniable that this small vehicle, along with the VW Beetle, set a standard of succes in cars at the time - both with rear engines - that would soon be replaced by the concept of the front-mounted engine. Nevertheless, the Cinquencento remains a landmark.
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