L’evoluzione del mito
Despite its very small size, the 500 proved to be an enormously practical vehicle with large sales throughout Europe. Besides the two-door coupé, it was also available as the “Giardiniera” estate; this variant featured the standardengine laid on its side the wheelbase lengthened by 10 cm (3.9 in) to provide a more convenient rear seat, a full-length sunroof, and larger brakes from the Fiat 600. The new 500’s styling recalls Fiat’s 1957 Fiat 500, nicknamed the Bambino, a model which was designed and engineered by Dante Giacosa with more than 4 million sold over its 18-year span.
Translated from concept to production design under the design direction of Frank Stephenson, the 500 features Dante Giacosa’s 1964 breakthrough front-wheel drive breakthrough layout, which became an industry standard, the layout “adopted by virtually every other manufacturer in the world” for front-wheel drive.
Driven by the tremendous success of the Smart Fortwo, especially in Italy, Fiat began examining a variety of small car concepts “to regain its small-car crown,” developing an “intense interest at producing a Smart (Fortwo) competitor” and concluding that “most customers want more than just the Smart’s two seats.”
The 2004 Fiat Trepiùno concept, from which the 500 derives, was introduced at the 74th Geneva Motorshow, designed at Centro Stile Fiat by Roberto Giolito in a style strongly reminiscent of the original Fiat 500.