Everything old is new again. Fiat Motors has announced the return of their iconic 1957 Fiat 500, resurrected with only slight modifications for 2014. Fiat points out the double significance of the occasion: 1957 was 57 years ago, after all! It’s a small point to bring up, but the “new” 1957 Fiat 500 won’t be available until 2015 (1957 plus 58!).
The 2015 500 (1957 Edition) will be available in very-50s shades of pastel blue and green, with ivory interior, brown leather seats, and 16-inch wheels. Upgrades will include a deluxe stereo and 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder engine, with five-speed manual (my choice!) or six-speed automatic transmission.
The original Fiat 500 was a game-changer for the Italian automaker in the fifties. It was a fun, affordable car which proved enduringly popular. During its production years, from 1957 to 1975, Fiat sold almost 3,900,000 sporty little “Nuova Cinquecentos”.
1957 and 1975 – so many 5s and 7s! Let’s fast-forward to 1975. I was once the proud but frequently-stranded owner of a 1975 Fiat 124 Sport Spider convertible. Red paint, tan leather seats, five-speed stickshift, wood dashboard. Acceleration. Wind in my hair. Totally unreliable (yes, Fiat does stand for “Fix It Again, Tony”). I was in my twenties and loved every minute I spent driving it, when it actually ran. I learned how to make small repairs so that I wouldn’t get stranded far from home. Finally, it threw a rod and I sold it for salvage. The thrill, and the Spider, are gone.