Later this year Fiat intends to roll out a new version of this mini car - the New Nuova Fiat 500. I fear it is not going to work. It has been announced with fanfare on the Internet, with competitions and contests, forums and passwords. It will follow the Beetle II, the Mini II, the possibly to-be ill--fated Chrysler 300 II and the bosomy Vespa scooter, having its 13th renaissance.
Without any aid at all, in 1957 Italian engineers put together a 'people's car' Italian style, with a half-liter two-cylinder air-cooled motor, two doors and a fabric roof, with a top speed of 90 kph depending on the heft of the grandmother and the size of the picnic basket. Over 18 years Fiat built and sold 3,678,000 of these snazzy flitzers. They were cars only if you had the imagination of an Italian. Myself, I had a Fiat 600, practically a limousine in comparison.
So it wasn't nostalgia for me yesterday at Rétromobile. It was to see the podium they would erect under a Fiat 500. And I couldn't find it. As I already mentioned, the huge floor of Hall 7 was crawling with duffers crawling along, popping their cameras at the 300-odd cars, digging through parts bins, kicking the tires of the cars being offered by Christie's, throwing down oysters by the dozen and those who weren't dealing were gawking, pure and simple.
I saw model Fiat 500s. If you ask how a show like Rétromobile makes money, just look at the miniature car lots run by the toy car dealers. Any size of Fiat 500 smaller that the real thing costs 35 euros. Last year they were only 24 euros, and I imagine there were folks around trying to peddle these 'classics' too.