First Drive: 2008 Fiat 500 - Mini Test Road Tests
Retro is still cool, according to Fiat, which has already tapped into its past for a new badge and created a fashionable range of merchandise featuring its logo style from the 1920s.
The latest Fiat 500—cinquecento in Italian—is also about reestablishing Fiat’s Italian pride. Five years ago, Fiat was in dire straits and seemed certain to fall into the arms of General Motors under an agreement made in 2000. Sergio Marchionne, a Canadian-Italian businessman, was appointed CEO of Fiat in 2004 and given the freedom to do whatever it took to turn the company around. His first action was to negotiate a divorce settlement with GM, which ended up costing the General $2 billion. A jubilant and now cash-rich Fiat put ads in newspapers throughout Italy proclaiming, “Fiat is Italian again.”