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Love It Or Hate It - There's An Interesting Story Behind How the Fiat 500 Came to Be

Love It Or Hate It - There’s An Interesting Story Behind How the Fiat 500 Came to Be

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.

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The Only Two Surviving Fiat 600 Multipla Mirafioris Drop By Jay Leno's Garage

The Only Two Surviving Fiat 600 Multipla Mirafioris Drop By Jay Leno’s Garage

Stylish MPVs from the late 1950s

Jay Leno’s classic car collection is one of the biggest and most impressive out there. And it includes an amazing amount of rare vehicles. However, Leno is missing the weird and somewhat anonymous Fiat 600 Multipla Mirafiori, an MPV-style hauler built in just five units in 1958. Only two survived and they’re owned by the same enthusiast and he paid Leno a visit to showcase them.

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Petrolicious Pays Tribute To Fiat 1100 by Stanguellini: Video

Petrolicious Pays Tribute To Fiat 1100 by Stanguellini: Video

If the title has you expecting a tribute to a charming little Italian compact, the car in the video is likely to surprise you. This is in fact a race car, built by Stanguellini using components from the Fiat 1100, but which bears essentially no resemblance whatsoever to look at. Not only that, but this particular one also has seriously modified bodywork, and therefore no longer even resembles the original race version. It is owned by a man who inherited it from his father, who had bought it 1955, and it already boasted an impressive racing history.

Mr. Lorenzoni uses the car to pay tribute to not only the era of racing when the car was used, but even the specific races that this particular car took part in. These were very different sorts of races, usually held on public roads, and it was watching the Parma-Poggio di Berceto go past his house as a child that first inspired his love of cars. He has been racing the car since 1977, participating in such events as the Targa Florio, Grand Prix of Naples, Grand Prix of Rome, and the Giro di Toscana. And it’s always great to see a classic car used exactly as it was intended.

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The Beast of Turin: Video

The Beast of Turin: Video

The Fiat S76 is the poster child for the "there’s no replacement for displacement" crowd. Developed over a hundred years ago to break the land speed record, its engine develops no less than 300 horsepower and 2,000 pound-feet of torque, and those aren’t even the most hair-raising figures. The Fiat S76 achieved those specifications using a four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 28.4-liters – which is over three times more than Bugatti Veyron or Dodge Viper powerplants.

Duncan Pittaway, the car’s new owner, and Lord March are two brave souls for having the courage to ride in the four-wheeled monster up the Goodwood Hill recently. Only two S76s models were built in 1911, and after finding the remains of one chassis, Pittaway mated it with the surviving engine from the other car. Nicknamed "The Beast of Turin" for obvious reasons, the S76 is probably the most insane vehicle that was ever built by Fiat, or any Italian carmaker for that matter.

Despite having been developed over a century ago, the humongous engine features multi-spark ignition, four valves per cylinder and a single overhead cam, and it’s simply amazing that it doesn’t disintegrate the chassis upon acceleration. The footage above is both breathtaking and terrifying, especially for the poor duck that almost gets run over at the 1:43 minute mark. If this behemoth of a vehicle doesn’t sound like the end of the world, then I don’t know what does. Perfect for showing up at an "Earth Day" picnic.

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Video: Jay Leno Reviews the Fiat 500L

Video: Jay Leno Reviews the Fiat 500L

For the latest episode of his show, Jay Leno has turned his attention from the supercars he usually reviews and reviewed the latest addition to the Fiat lineup: the 500L. Alongside Jay, you will see Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat North America who is offering us a few more details on the car.

The 500L is two feet longer than the standard 500, but it offers 42 percent more cabin room and is just as fun to drive, according to Fiat. What do you think, does Jay Leno agree with this statement? Watch the video and you will find out!

As a reminder, the 500L will be offered with two petrol engines - the 101 horsepower 1.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine from the standard 500 and a TwinAir version - as well as one diesel turbocharged 1.3 MultiJet II engine.

In the same episode, Leno announced he will update his Abarth with the Esseesse kit and will bring it next week in Detroit.

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Video: Fiat's new guerilla-style advertising featuring the Fiat 500 and bikini-clad women

Video: Fiat’s new guerilla-style advertising featuring the Fiat 500 and bikini-clad women

We know what you’re thinking: Why can’t we have that kind of promotional advertising here in the US?

We’ll be real; we probably won’t see that kind of public demonstration in Times Square anytime soon. But in places like Amsterdam, this kind of marketing campaign is pretty prevalent, and if we do say so ourselves, pretty awesome.

In promoting the new Fiat 500 Cabrio, the Italian manufacturer decided to do a guerilla-style marketing initiative by rolling out two of their 500 Cabrios in front of a square accompanied by a number of bikini-clad women – in less than ideal temperatures, no less - dancing to the beats of a nearby performance group. Naturally, the whole spectacle drew the attention of smiling and laughing crowd, most of whom we’re men who completely enjoyed the whole brouhaha.

While it may be a long time before we see something like this in the US, thanks to the global reach of the Internet, we can still enjoy the show from thousands of miles away – even if it means that we’re doing it from the confines of our computers.

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Fiat 500 and Q7 crash test video

Fiat 500 and Q7 crash test video

This is a video demonstrating the most common form of frontal accident, the offset crash. This video shot by the ADAC shows what happens in the real world when David takes on Goliath. The Fiat 500 is rated as one of the safest cars in its class by the European rating standards, but the Audi Q7’s mass proves to be too much.

The ADAC is to Germany kind of like what AAA is to the U.S. It’s an auto club that includes providing help to stranded motorists as part of its services. Unfortunately for the passengers of the Fiat 500, it looks like their problems go way beyond jumper cables.

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News: 29 February 2008

News: 29 February 2008

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