1936 Fiat 500 Topolino
The Topolino was one of the smallest cars in the world at the time of its production. Launched in 1937, three models were produced until 1955, all with only minor mechanical and cosmetic changes. It was equipped with a 569 cc four-cylinder, side-valve, water-cooled engine mounted in front of the front axle, (later an overhead valve motor) and so was a full-scale car rather than a cyclecar. The radiator was located behind the engine which made possible a lowered aerodynamic nose profile at a time when competitors had a flat, nearly vertical grill. The shape of the car's front allowed exceptional forward visibility.
Rear suspension initially used quarter-elliptic rear springs, but buyers frequently squeezed four or five people into the nominally two-seater car, and in later models the chassis was extended at the rear to allow for more robust semi-elliptic springs.
With horsepower of about 13 bhp, its top speed was about 53 mph (85 km/h), and it could achieve about 39.2 miles per US gallon (6.00 L/100 km; 47.1 mpg-imp). The target price given when the car was planned was 5,000 lire. In the event the price at launch was 9,750 lire, though the decade was one of falling prices in several part of Europe and later in the 1930s the Topolino was sold for about 8,900 lire. Despite being more expensive than first envisioned, the car was competitively priced. Nearly 520,000 were sold.
Three models were produced. Model A and B shared the same body, only the engine of model B had 16 hp, vs. 13 hp of model A. Model A was produced from 1937 till 1948., while B was produced 1948. and 1949. Model A was only a 2-door sedan, while Model B also introduced a 3-door wagon under the name 500 B Topolino Giardinetta ("station wagon, estate car"). Model C started in 1949. with restyled body and the same engine as Model B, and was offered in 2-door sedan and 3-door wagon versions. Since 1952., Giardinetta was renamed Belvedere ("A turret or other raised structure offering a pleasant view of the surrounding area", referring to its sunroof). Model C was produced until 1955.
In 1955 the mid-size rear wheel drive Fiat 600 was launched by Fiat and that would become the design basis for the new Fiat 500, the Nuova 500.