Car designer Frank Stephenson explains how he penned the Fiat 500

The current Fiat 500 dates back to 2007 when it was introduced as a modern incarnation of an iconic and very successful city car that the Italian firm produced from 1957 to 1975. Developed in an era when Fiat was struggling, the 500 managed to put the Italian firm back on track and eventually in a successful partnership with Chrysler. Frank Stephenson, the man who designed the production version of the 500, recently posted a video in which he discusses how he designed the city car that’s now considered one of the most successful classic car revivals.


Although he is a major contributor, alongside Flavio Manzoni, to the 500's final production design, Stephenson didn't create the car from scratch.

His design is actually based on the Fiat Trepiuno concept, which was penned by Roberto Giolito. But Stephenson added many of the key styling cues that made the Fiat 500 popular and explained the entire process by putting together a couple of sketches on a piece of paper.

Love It Or Hate It - There's An Interesting Story Behind How the Fiat 500 Came to Be
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If you’re not familiar with Stephenson’s work, the Fiat 500 is just one of many iconic cars he designed. He started out by designing the large double spoiler of the Ford Escort RS Cosworth before moving to BMW, where he penned the Mini Cooper, also a revival of a beloved classic. He also designed the first-generation BMW X5 before he was appointed director of Ferrari-Maserati Concept Design and Development. During this time, his team created the Maserati GranSport and MC12, and the Ferrari F430 and FXX. Following his tenure at Fiat, Stephenson became the Design Director of McLaren Automotive, where he oversaw the design of the MP4-12C, P1, 570S, 675LT, and 720S.

2020 Fiat 500e exterior dimensions
Length 3.63 meters (11.8 feet)
Width 1.69 meters (5.5 feet)
Height 1.48 meters (4.6 feet)
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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