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Here we dive into the story behind the original Italian small car, the Fiat 500.

In the mid to late 1950s, small cars were considered to be rather practical, cost-effective and fashionable, pretty much the same as today. However, what we call small and what the Italians called small back then are two completely different things!

The original 1957 Fiat 500 was 2.9 metres long, 1.3 metres wide and weighed in at only 500kg. It featured a 0.5-litre two cylinder air cooled engine that produced a total of 17hp. But, for the time, this amount of power was, first of all, legal and met minimum power requirements, and was perfect for consumers. The 1950s Fiat 500 design lasted until the mid-1970s, and was considered a four-wheel Vesper.

One interesting fact about the Fiat 500 that James May explains in the video below, was that in the 1950s, steel was incredibly expensive in Italy, so Fiat designed the 500 to have an openable canvas roof. This was not an optional extra, it was purposely engineered to save weight and cost, unlike convertible cars today.

Take a look at the video below by BBC Studios on YouTube titled, The Fiat 500 - The Original Small Car - James May's Cars Of The People - BBC.

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