Object of desire

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016
  • Vintage Fiat 500

    I’ve always had an affection for small cars. Ever since the days when my Granddad would drive me home (around the corner) in his orange mini with the speedometer in the center of the dashboard. There’s just something undeniably charming about an unassuming little car.

    On the streets of Paris there are many such cars and with good reason. The over-crowded and often times narrow streets of France’s capital lend themselves to smaller vehicles. Smart cars are popular here, as are little electric vehicles, but there are also many older small city-friendly cars like the Mini and of course, as featured today’s picture, the equally iconic Italian Fiat 500.

    First released back July 1957, the Fiat 500 (or Cinquecento as it’s called in Italy) is just only 2.97 meters (9 feet 9 inches) long, has an unusually large sun-roof, and has a tiny 500cc rear-mounted engine, smaller than many motorbikes!

    Fiat produced nearly four million 500’s globally between 1957 to 1975 when the final car rolled off the production line. It was replaced by the Fiat 126 that never captured the imagination of car enthusiasts in the same way (or indeed any way it seems!).

    I’d love to own a Fiat 500, but these days the cars command a hefty price tag that put them into the realm of being an ‘object of desire’ rather than something I’d consider as a regular purchase.

    However, I can take a little solace in the fact that I have owned a Fiat 126. It was a fun car to drive, mainly because I put a set of Fiat Panda wheels on the car which dramatically changed the way it handled, making it utterly unpredictable in the dry and almost underivable in the wet. Corners were always a concern as the car could slide wildly at any speed and occasionally a wheel might fall off! Nonetheless, I had a fondness for that car because, like a passionate but crazy ex-lover, it was always exciting.