FIAT 500 Topolino

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FIAT 500 Topolino
FIAT 500 Topolino   1936 1948
1936 1948

Undoubtedly one of the most famous Italian cars, the Fiat 500 “Topolino” was a small car produced by the Turin-based company from 1936 to 1955.
Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy, asked the senator Giovanni Agnelli to do what was necessary for a small, economical and cheap car to be produced for the Italians.

With the request forwarded to Fiat, they thought of using the technologies and schemes already used, to avoid development costs. The only problem was that FIAT was not able to supply an adequate product in such a short time, thus they collaborated with a bright student of Giulio Cesare Cappa, Oreste Lardone, who had already created a prototype of a small car.

Fiat decided to go in parallel with designing the model with company’s standards and hired Oreste Lardone to work with a small group of technicians in order to develop his own mechanical theories.

Lardone’s idea was to create a a 4-seat vehicle with a 500 cmc air-cooled twin-cylinder engine with a front-wheel-drive system. The idea was good, thus a prototype was designed. Unfortunately, while being tested, an engine fire forced the occupants to jump out. Lardone was fired and front-wheel-drive was banned by Fiat.

The project was taken over by Dante Giacosa. After months of drawings and calculations, a new prototype came out. The new car had a radiator that was placed above the engine to save the water pump, a 4-cylinder engine with side valves was fitted, as well as other cost saving features were used.

Satisfied with the result, Fiat authorised the creation of the Fiat 500.

On June 15, 1936, the Fiat 500 was put on sale. While the Topolino was a modest car in therms of technology and performance, the prices around twenty times of the average salary of a skilled worker. The Topolino was successful, with 222,000 vehicles in circulation for over 42 million inhabitants, one Fiat 500 for every 200 people.

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