Most countries have had one: the car that is designed to bring transportation to the masses: Germany, and the world, had it with the Beetle, France had it with the 2CV and Western civilization had it with the Ford Model T. For Italy, it was the 1957 Fiat 500 that performed this, and a fine job of it it did! In production for almost 20 years, this highly utilitarian little car sold by the millions, and with good reason: it was cheap, reliable, and for a car of that size, relatively roomy. It also gave rise to countless variations, as it was customized and adapted to just about every taste. It was also produced as a station wagon, starting in 1960, which further enhanced the 500’s versatility.
The Fiat 500 certainly wasn’t built for speed, but for endurance. it was powered by an 18-horsepower, 499cc, air-cooled two-cylinder engine mounted in the back. Top speed was 60 miles per hour – not for the faint of heart – and 0-50 mph acceleration time took the better part of a minute. Of course, one of the Fiat 500’s most famous variants was the Abarth Fiat 500, which performed significantly better in that regards.
The 1957 Fiat 500 was finally cancelled in 1975, and by that time, over 4,000,000 of them had been built. Reliable, tough and cheap to operate, the Fiat 500 remained popular to the end, and developed quite the cult following.