Fiat produced the Model 500, commonly known as Topolino (Italian for 'little mouse') from 1936 to 1955. It was one of the smallest cars in the world at the time of its production. Power was from a 569cc four-cylinder, side valve, water-cooled engine mounted in the front of the front axle. The radiator was placed behind the engine which allowed for a lower nose profile offering exceptional forward visibility.
The suspension in the rear was initially quarter elliptic rear springs. Later models received an extended chassis at the rear which allowed for more robust semi-elliptic springs.
Nearly 520,000 examples were sold. In 1955, the mid-size rear wheel drive Fiat 600 was introduced and would become the design basis for the new Fiat 500, the Nuova 500.By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2016
The Fiat Topolino was produced from 1937 through 1955 with nearly 520,000 constructed. The name 'Topolino' was chosen in honor of Mickey Mouse - the name 'Topolino' means 'little mouse.'
The Fiat Company, Fabbrica italiana Automobili Torio, began in 1899 and formed by Giovanni Agnelli. Very early on, the company merged with Ceirano, a bicycle-maker who had switched to auto production. The first Fiat automobile was built by designer Aristide Faccioli and powered by a horizontal twin-cylinder engine that produced 3 horsepower. The company continued with modest success throughout the years. By the 1930s, the prosperity of the company had increased and entered into a whole new realm of popularity. A contest was arranged by Chairman Agnelli who challenged all to create a design for a new small car that could be a suitable rival for the Porsche 'People's Car.' Oreste Lardone, Fiat's chief designer, produced an example that was powered by an air-cooled engine. On its first test drive, the vehicle caught on fire. Agnelli had been onboard during the fire and upon exiting from the car, dismissed Lardone. Dante Giacosa was given the position and produced designs for what would become known as the Fiat 500.
There were three models produced during its production lifespan. All brought with them minor mechanical and cosmetic improvements over their predecessor. In 1955 the Fiat 500 was replaced by the rear-wheel drive Fiat 600 and became the basis for the next generation of the Fiat 500, the 500 Nuova.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007