500 in America, late fifties

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    The 500 shown here was made for North America, with it's 7" headlights that were required.

    For the past three decades plus, Fiat cars and trucks have not been sold in the USA. Their reliability and corrosion problems gave them a very poor reputation. Many of the problems may have been due to the long distance highway driving that Americans do, and our habits of being less attentive to maintenance.

    But, Fiat still made cars we never saw, and sold them all over, even North Korea!

    Gearbox12v, Classic Cars Australia, and 12 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Martin van Duijn 50 months ago | reply

      Those lights look awkward. Never seen a photo of it.

    2. Hugo90 50 months ago | reply

      From 1940 to 1956, all cars in the USA had to use the 7" round sealed beam bulbs. In 1957 the four 5" bulbs became an option and in the mid-seventies the rectangular sealed beam bulbs were another option. It was later that the separate bulb and lens used in Europe and many other places were allowed. Made for some awkward applications!

    3. Martin van Duijn 50 months ago | reply

      What was the presumed advantage of sealed beams?

    4. Hugo90 50 months ago | reply

      I didn't know so I went to the source - Wikipedia! I usually can find out almost anything there. Apparently it was the intrusion of dirt and moisture to the previous design that encouraged the sealed beam. In the USA, it is the automakers that usually lobby for these standards so that all players have to go by the same rules. I have read that the 1940 sealed beam was a great improvement.


    5. Classic Cars Australia 50 months ago | reply

      Bigger over-riders on the bumpers too!

    6. IFHP97 50 months ago | reply

      Another possibel reason why Fiat were rust prone is (so I've heard) that there were often shipped top side on frighters and so were already begining to rust when they arrived.

    7. Classic Cars Australia 50 months ago | reply

      It's said that Fiat's deal to use Russian steel in the 70s saw the rust problem explode. Before that they were no better or worse than other cars in this country. There are many thousands of 500s in everyday use in Italy, and from my observations rust wasn't overly evident when I was there in 2010, with most of them in tidy to excellent condition. I pondered over importing some here as prices for them are strong.

    8. cjmuller79 50 months ago | reply

      Wow, those lights look pretty terrible. Would it have been impossible to modify the fascia to accept larger sealed-beam lamps rather than tacking them on? Along with the enormous overriders, makes the front of the car look quite odd.

    9. Delaville (ex-Trabantino1) [deleted] 50 months ago | reply

      Oh poor Cinquecento, it looks like a frog. I drove one dark blue in Paris. You can still see them in daily use France too, where the 500 was very popular.

    10. Martin van Duijn 50 months ago | reply

      Apart from the sealed beam requirement, US laws also specified a minimum height for headlights. That is probably why the sealed beams could not be integrated in the body.

    11. FritsKlijn 50 months ago | reply

      As a former Fiat 500 owner I have some thoughts to add.

      It is true that rust was a problem with Fiats. Likewise many French cars in the 70's and 80's had the same problem.
      What makes a huge difference is the climate.
      I've seen cars in Italy of over 20 years old, which were dull in color, but with hardly any rust. The sunny weather in summer helps a lot. Put the same cars in our Dutch more rainy climate, especially near the coast with it's corrosive 'salty' seawind, and the rust process started right away.
      For those reasons a lot less Italian and French cars were sold in the years after, but they seem to have the problem licked now. And Fiat now guarantees an 8 year period against rusting from the inside out.

    12. Delaville (ex-Trabantino1) [deleted] 50 months ago | reply

      You are absolutely right about rust. and they were solved in the early 1980s! But bad reputations are tough.
      On the other hand, the enemy in Italy, Spain or Greece, was the sun. It would fade the painting away, rip the seats upholstery and crack the plastics on the dashboard. That is why everyday we were changing the cars from one place to another, to keep them in the shade of the houses.

      I have now a Soviet ZAZ, who was sold new in Italy and it is totally rust free. That is why I refused to import one from Germany, Poland or the former USSR : climate.

    13. Dano-boone 30 months ago | reply

      When I was 15 I bought a '59 for $100.00. I cleaned it up inside and out and sold it to my cousin who had just returned from Vietnam for what I paid for it with a hand shake deal that he would teach me how to surf. I will never forget how cool I felt crusing to the beach with my cousin with our surfboards on top of that baby blue beach buggy with tinted windows and a 8 track tape player listening to," James Gang" full blast! Great memories!

    14. rjgabay 30 months ago | reply

      Fix It Again Tony!

    15. Tripeler 26 months ago | reply

      These photos have Fiats that could certainly be called "bugeye" styles.

    16. nlpnt 12 months ago | reply

      I was unaware until you mentioned it that the ZAZ was ever exported to hard-currency countries.

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