Many people claim ownership of the original people carrier; Renault thinks that it was the Espace, in the 80s, that created this market, and Chrysler is quite convinced that its Voyager is the one. In this instance, however, both are wrong: the winner is the 1955 Fiat Multipla, although it arrived too early to make much of an impact. Small and compact, the Multipla had a 139 inch wheelbase, and could comfortably accommodate 6 passengers on 3 rows of seating. Mechanically, it was based on the Fiat 600, a family car Fiat made in the 1950s. It proved to be very popular indeed with taxi drivers and city delivery companies, who appreciated its roominess more than anyone else.
The biggest, most powerful engine fitted in the Fiat Multipla was a 767cc four-cylinder engine that produced 29 horsepower, which is not much, but a step up from the 24 horsepower, 633cc engine that was there before. Thankfully, the Multipla wasn’t built for speed, but for convenience. Its top speed was 60 miles per hour, and 0-50 acceleration took well over 30 seconds.
Produced for 11 years, until 1966, the 1955 Fiat Multipla retained its popularity well beyond it retirement, and until recently, it wasn’t uncommon to still see them on Italian roads.