The Fiat 500 is a car produced by the Fiat company of Italy between 1957 and 1975 (the Fiat 500 K alone was produced until 1977). It was designed by Dante Giacosa.
Launched as the Nuova 500, it was marketed as a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 2.97 m (9 ft 9 in) 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.
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. 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 firms Neckar of Germany and Steyr-Puch in Austria each made cars that were legally based 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 coupé, 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.
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 economy.
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 will feature a distinctive retro-look just like the Volkswagen New Beetle and BMW MINI. The car is 3.55 meters long and 1.65 meters wide. Top speed is 180 km/h (112 mph). The basic price is 10,500 euro in Italy; with options 15,000 euro.
Fiat will share the underpinnings of the new 500 with Ford for the next Ford Ka. Production takes place in Fiat facilities in Poland, and is currently scheduled for mid 2007 with commercial debut in September of 2007.
Three engines are available. A 1.2 8v unit, the 75 bhp 1.3 Multijet common-rail turbo diesel, and a 85 bhp 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