The first successful small car from Fiat was the Dante Giacosa-designed 500 Toppolino, launched back in 1937. Named after the Italian word for "mouse", the first Fiat 500 sold over half a million cars until 1955, when it was replaced by the more modern, post-war 600.
After only a couple of years, the 600 spawned another return of the 500 nameplate, the so-called Fiat Nuova 500. Also designed by Dante Giacosa, the Nuova 500 became one of Fiat's biggest sellers of all time between 1957 and 1975. Transforming from an inexpensive and simple city car into a cultural icon like the original Mini, the Citroen 2CV or the Volkswagen Beetle, the original 500 raised an entire army of fans.
In the meantime, a Turinese racing car maker founded by the Austro-Italian automotive legend Carlo (Karl) Abarth and Armando Scagliarini was just beginning to make a name for itself. Among other racing and street projects, one of their more spectacular cars were the Abarth-tuned Fiat 500s and later the Autobianchi A112.
Their close ties with the Italian company got the street tuning division to get bought by the Fiat Group on July 31, 1971. Sadly, in just a couple of decades since this happened, the Abarth nameplate began to disappear from view, being slowly buried by Fiat until it completely vanished.
Years passed and a retro revolution began to appear among car manufacturers, with models like the VW New Beetle, the new MINI, the Ford Mustang and others offering a blend of modern technology and an old-school design. Fiat couldn't let this one pass and started work on a retro model of their own.
Previewed by the Fiat Trepiuno Concept from the 2004 Geneva Auto Show, 2007 saw the revival of the Nuova 500 in the Fiat line-up. With a spectacular launch and a waiting list rivaling exotic cars, the latest 500 took the automotive world by storm with its retro design motifs and extensive personalization options.
Abut two years later, another Fiat brilliant idea was to also revive the Abarth nameplate. The first models to receive the "Scorpion touch" where the Grande Punto and the little 500, who also received a more hardcore, SS (Esseesse) variant.
We couldn't let the opportunity to experiment one of the little buggers pass us so we took an Abarth 500 for a test drive. We should probably also mention the fact that Lady Luck smiled upon us and we first got to have a short city driving stint in the esse esse model before jumping in its smaller brother. Read on to check out our opinions about the little retro city racer. Continue reading