Was it not Grahame Greene who said “If I can’t have the bream I’ll have a salad instead”?
The Fiat 500 has entered a new phase in life. Having initially been very fashionable, it came to be seen as a rather tired old product (not by the many who bought them). Now, ten years on, it has eased its way into a small pantheon of long-lived steady sellers. The Suzuki Jimny has managed this as well, albeit after 20 years (for Autocar). Another example, at the other end of the scale might be Toyota’s Century.
I’d really like to be able to enumerate the dazzling array of options but I don’t think even Fiat knows. That the price range is from 11,000 GBP to 19,000 GBP tells you a lot about what a cash cow this car must be. As far as I can tell, improvements to the technical spec have not been many; this car is totally amortised and, despite the competition, is still in demand. Fiat have very cleverly used the 500 as a means to sell paint schemes and trim options attached to what some might call a rolling fossil.
That would be unfair since the core of the product (engine, body, seating) does what people want it to do. Although a car of a vastly different character to a Panda Mk1, the Nuovo 500 does the job and doesn’t cost too much if you don’t want it to. The car attracts customers on the basis of the ever-changing paint finishes and its harmless personality: a car for customers who only need nice looking transport. If all goes well, Fiat need never replace it. Happy birthday, Fiat Nuova 500. Nice wheels, too.