Fiat always had a knack for producing small cars that people wanted, and it did well with the 1991 Fiat Cinquecento. While this means ‘500’ in Italian, and it clearly meant to harken back to the Fiat 500 of old, this version of the Cinquecento had a significantly bigger engine than its traditional namesake, up to twice as large! Nevertheless, this wasn’t why this car was popular: it was because it managed to look good and offer an impressive array of features in a car that was definitely on the inexpensive side of cheap. Among other things, buyers could could on an independent suspension with anti-roll bars and such safety features as side-impact bars and crumple zones. The rust-proofing was also much better than previous Fiat models, which meant you could finally enjoy your car for more than a few years before it rusted away to nothing.
The Cinquecento, while designed in Italy, was actually built in Poland. Its home market had the disctinction of having the smallest, least powerful engine as its standard fare, a 704cc engine. Elsewhere, the standard was a 903 cc engine, and a 1.1-liter four-cylinder was offered on the ‘Sporting’ model. With this engine, the Fiat Cinquecento could reach a top speed of 93 miles per hour, and boasted a 0-60 acceleration time of 13.5 seconds.
Cute if not beautiful, and well equipped for the price, the 1991 Fiat Cinquecento was a hit, and remained in production until 1998.