In 1957 Fiat were having great success with their 600 but they recognised that there was a market for an even smaller car. they were still building an updated version of their pre-war 'Topolino', or 'little mouse', the 500C, right up to 1955 but it was now time for a completely new model. It was launched as the New (Nueova) 500.
Dante Giacosa, who had created the enormously successful 600, was given the task to design this one as well and like the 600 it featured a rear mounted engine, this time with twin cylinders and a capacity, initially, of 497 cc. This produced 13 brake horsepower giving the car a maximum speed of just a shade over 50 mph; puny on the face of it but more than enough for threading through the traffic of most cities worldwide!
Measuring just 9.75 feet long it was more than nine inches shorter than the 600 but was still capable of carrying four adults. They could be somewhat cramped for this car was meant for city use and so journeys were not expected to be very long.
When initially launched there was a canvas roof - a tilt towards the Citroen 2CV - and the two doors were hinged to the rear; the so-called 'suicide doors' but there followed an enormous variety of variants over the 20 years of it's production run.
More than 4 million of these 500s were sold with production ending in 1975 but in 2007, 50 years after the 500 was first launched, a new model was unveiled, which again has met with excellent sales worldwide, and which is still selling to this day.
Fiat has proven that one reliable way to success in car manufacture is to provide cheap but comfortable and reliable cars, which last well and are economical to run and maintain.