The Rise of Fiat

16 May 2019

This year marks the 120th birthday of one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world: Fiat. Originally an acronym for ‘Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino’, the word Fiat has come to establish a meaning in its own right through a long history of innovation and progress within the automobile industry.

Join Propsellers as we explore the history and iconic launches of this cherished manufacturer.

From the start

Fiat was founded in 1899, and quickly found its footing as a world leader in the automotive industry. Founder Giovanni Agnelli was more than just one of the directors — he was the innovator and strategist behind Fiat’s overall vision for progress. It came as no surprise then that Agnelli was made Managing Director in 1902!

Following Fiat’s launch in America in 1908, their cars were considered a luxury item of the time. Fuelled by this success, the company was able to expand its range to include further vehicles, such as a commercial line of trucks and trams.

In 1899 Fiat had 150 workers and a single manufacturing site. Fast forward 120 years and the company now boasts seven factories and over 50,000 employees.

Setting the standard year-on-year

You don’t remain successful for 120 years and counting without launching your fair share of iconic products. Fiat has released so many examples of innovative and standard-setting automobiles over the years; here are just a few of the highlights:

  • 1923 — Fiat Mefistofele. This one-off car broke the World Land Speed Record in 1924, and marked the last time a land speed record was set on a public road.
  • 1936 — Fiat 500 Topolino. Noted for changing the standard design of vehicles, the Fiat 500 Topolino was the smallest car in production in the 30s. The Independent called it the first car to make ‘style’ the most important part of its design.
  • 1957 — Fiat 500. Designed to cater to the post-war market, the Fiat 500 has established itself as a classic, with fans requesting its return with a modern update. It was hugely successful in Europe in particular.
  • 1966 — Fiat 124 Sport Spider. Just under a decade later and America would see its own Fiat sweetheart. The States adored the Sport Spider roadster, and it even had a number of stints in stardom thanks to the likes of Hawaii Five-O and Starsky and Hutch. More recently, the Sport Spider has even shown up in the video game series Forza.
  • 1983 — Fiat Uno. This popular small car was perfect for city driving, and was so well-received that 6 million cars were made in the Italian factories alone. In fact, the Uno was in production across the world until 2013.

With the Heritage project ongoing at Fiat, it’s clear that the company is well aware of its past successes and seeks to continue to build upon them for the future.

Sources

https://www.lifeinitaly.com/italian-cars/fiat-history

https://www.fiat.co.uk/

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/features/fiat-500-topolino-5531418.html

https://www.motor1.com/news/267524/fiat-500-1957-edition-return/

https://haynes.com/en-gb/tips-tutorials/short-history-fiat-uno

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