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The Fiat 500 (cinquecento, ) is a car produced by the Fiat company of Italy between 1957 and 1975, with limited production of the Fiat 500 K estate continuing until 1977. The car was designed by Dante Giacosa.
Launched as the ''Nuova 500'' in July 1957,
it was marketed as a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 3 meters (~10 feet) long, and originally powered by a tiny 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 redefined the term "small car" and is considered one of the first city cars.
In 2007 Fiat launched a similar looking, retro-styled car, the Fiat Nuova 500.
To meet the demands of the post-war market which called for economy cars, the Fiat 500 was rear-engined on the pattern of the Volkswagen Beetle, just like its bigger brother, the 1955 Fiat 600. Several car makers followed this now nearly vanished design at the time and were quite successful, but only the Fiat 500 was used as the template for other car makers in Europe. The Neckar version manufactured in Heilbronn under a complicated deal involving NSU, was introduced in October 1961.
[ In Upper Austria the firm of Steyr-Puch also produced cars based, by agreement, on the Fiat 500.]
Despite its diminutive size, the 500 proved to be an enormously practical and popular vehicle throughout Europe. Besides the two-door coupÃ©, it was also available as the "Giardiniera" station wagon; this variant featured the standard engine laid on its side, the wheelbase lengthened by 10 cm (4 in) which yielded a usable rear seat, a full-length sunroof, and larger brakes from the Fiat 600.
Sports models were produced by Abarth. An Austrian variant, produced by Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the 1956-1969 Steyr-Puch 500, had a motorcycle-derived Puch boxer twin motor, a sports model of which was the 1964-1968 [http://www.fiatplus.com/images/P/STEYRPUCH-P.JPG Steyr-Puch 650 TR2].
Production of the 500 ended in 1975, although its replacement, the Fiat 126, was launched two years earlier. The 126 was never as popular as its predecessor in Italy, but was (and still is) enormously popular in the former Eastern Bloc countries, where it is famed for mechanical durability and fuel economy.
The original 500, the Nuova, has a smaller two-cylinder engine than all newer models, at 479 cc and producing just 13 bhp. The original model also features a roof folding all the way back to the rear of the vehicle, like that of a CitroÃ«n 2CV rather than the later roof design which only folds half way back along the roof. The Nuova is one of three models featuring "suicide doors". There is also a stylish Sport version of the Nuova, which features a distinctive red stripe and a more powerful engine, bored out to 499.5 cc from the original 479 cc engine and with a longer stroke, thus producing an impressive 21 bhp from the same original block.
Rear view of the Fiat 500 K "Giardiniera"
Replacing the original Nuova in 1960, the D looks very similar to the Nuova, but there are two key differences. One is the engine size (the D features an uprated 499 cc engine producing 17 bhp as standard â€” this engine is used right through until the end of the L in 1973) and the other is the roof (the D roof does not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova). The D also features "suicide doors".
Fiat 500 F
K or ''Giardiniera'' (1960-1977)
The estate version of the Fiat 500 is the longest running model. The engine is laid under the floor of the boot to create a flat loading surface. The roof on this model also stretches all the way to the rear, not stopping above the driver and front passenger as it does in other models of the same period. The K also features "suicide doors" and is the only model to continue to sport this door type in to the 1970s.
F or ''Berlina'' (1965-1973)
The F spans two periods of 500 production, the D and the L. As such, it is the most frequently misidentified model. Between 1965 and 1969 the F carried the same badging as the D, but the two models are distinguishable by the positioning of their door hinges. The D has "suicide doors": the F, produced from June 1965, at last featured front-hinged doors.
[ Between 1969 and 1972 the F was sold alongside the ''Lusso'' model as a cheaper "base model" alternative. While the F and L are mechanically very similar, the key differences are the bumpers (the L has an extra chrome nudge bar) and the interior (the F interior is nearly identical to the original 1957 design while the L sports a much more modern look).]
Fiat 500 L
L or ''Lusso'' (1968-1972)
The penultimate model, the main change for the L is a much modernized interior (including a renewed dashboard) which brought the Fiat 500 up to date. Greater comfort and style were provided in this new model for the new generation.
R or ''Rinnovata'' (1972-1975)
The last incarnation of the Fiat 500 was the R model. It had a larger 594 cc engine, giving it a more usable power rating of 23 bhp, and contrary to many translations of the FIAT literature, came with a non-synchromesh "crash-box" manual transmission. This transmission was retained from the earlier 'F' model, unlike the floor-pan which was from either the 'L', or later, the new 126. It was also more comfortable, but more simply trimmed and equipped than before â€” the gas gauge was omitted and only the low fuel indicator remained. The 500 R was also a stop-gap for Fiat prior to the launch of the Fiat 126, and when the new 126 was launched sales of the old Fiat 500 R naturally plummeted. It sold alongside the Fiat 126 for another two years before Fiat finally retired the 500.
Fiat 500 Ghia
Carrozzeria Ghia made a custom "Jolly" version of the 500 inspired by the limited edition Fiat 600 Jolly
Fiat previewed the all new 500 in March 2007 exactly 50 years after the first Fiat 500 was presented.
The design of the new 2007 Fiat 500 is based on the 2004 Fiat Trepiuno concept. This car features a distinctive retro-look just like the Volkswagen New Beetle and BMW MINI but is substantially cheaper than those cars, with a starting price of â‚¬10,500 (similar to how the original Fiat 500 was cheaper than the Volkswagen Beetle and Austin Mini). The car is 3.55 meters long and 1.65 meters wide. Top speed is . The basic price is â‚¬10,500 in Italy; with options â‚¬15,000.
Fiat shares the underpinnings of the new 500 with Ford for the 2009 Ford Ka. Production takes place in Fiat facilities in Poland, and is currently scheduled for mid 2007 with commercial debut in September 2007.
Three four-cylinder engines are available. A 69 PS 1.2 8v unit, the 75 PS 1.3 Multijet common-rail turbo diesel, and a 100 PS 1.4 16v engine coupled to a 6 speed manual gearbox as found in the Panda 100HP. Currently, three trims are available the Pop, Sport and Lounge. A fourth more basic model called 'Naked' may be put on sale, although it is doubtful whether it will be available in all markets.
A Fiat 500 Abarth was unveiled at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, and it is be powered by a 1.4 liter Fire engine with an IHI variable geometry turbocharger. The Abarth has and of torque, with the option with and in sports mode.
[[http://paultan.org/archives/2008/02/20/fiat-releases-fiat-500-abarth-official-details/ Fiat releases Fiat 500 Abarth official details]. Retrieved on 20 February 2008.]
The all-new 500 received critical acclaim from many magazines. British-magazine Car called the new Fiat "irresistible". The car also received a full five star EURO NCAP crash test rating.
* The nickname Fiat Bambina was coined by New Zealand business man Rob Elliot.
* In Argentina and Paraguay it is popularly known as Fiat "Bolita" ("Little ball").
Long distance travel in 500s
* In May 2007 a 1969 Fiat 500 ("Bambino" in Australia) driven by Lang Kidby and his wife Bev started their Fiat 500 World Expedition from Australia. Driving from Vladivostok through Russia they arrived in Garlenda, Italy in time for the car's 50th anniversary celebration. Shipping from Belgium the car set out from New York to travel all the way to Anchorage, Alaska before returning to Australia - 32,000 road kilometers in just 99 days. It is believed to be the smallest car to complete a world circumnavigation.
* On April 18, 2005 a 1973 Fiat 500 linked Bari, Italy, to Beijing, China, in a 16,000 km journey across the whole of Russia and passing through Vladivostok. Driven for 100 days by Danilo Elia and Fabrizio Bonserio, the old and tiny car was followed along its journey by newspapers and television from all over the world. After the long journey Elia wrote a book entitled ''La bizzarra impresa'' (ISBN 88-7480-088-6) ("The bizarre exploit"), now available only in Italian and German (''Echt Abgefahren'', National Geographic Deutschland, 2007, ISBN 978-3-89405-834-0). On April - June 2007, the same car driven by Danilo Elia run around the Mediterranean sea for more than 10.000 km, being the first Fiat 500 to reach the Sahara dunes.