|Engine||Flat twin-cylinder, 650cc|
If ever an automobile symbolised Italy, it would be Fiat’s charming 500 Cinquecento, a car that has reached cult status around the world and inspired the current retro-styled model. Launched as the Nuova 500 in 1957 and succeeding the massively popular Topolino, the Fiat provided mass transportation for millions of Italians and ultimately remained in production for the best part of twenty years. Build quality on these early cars was somewhat suspect but improved markedly with the 500D of 1960, as did performance thanks to the increase in capacity of the air-cooled twin-cylinder engine from 479cc to 499cc (with 18 horsepower on tap). The 500F produced from 1965 until 1972 saw the biggest changes yet, with front-hinged doors replacing the suicide doors of the original, deeper windscreens, thicker pillars and a taller bodyshell to improve safety and interior space. With a modified carburettor pushing out an additional one horsepower, performance reached new heights and the 500F was capable of a genuine 100km/h. The tiny Fiat could be found squeezed into the most unlikely parking spaces on any street in Rome, Naples or Milan for years but now are sadly becoming all too rare both in Italy and elsewhere and good survivors have long been regarded as collectible by enthusiasts around the world.