Fiat 500 cabrio – my tiny contribution

Posted by Paul Horrell at 4:33 pm on Friday February 13, 2009

500 cabrio

This just dropped into Foreman’s inbox. Thought you’d like to see it ahead of the official reveal. It’s the Fiat 500 cabrio. Here’s the background.

Fiat was originally considering two possible designs for a soft-top. This one, which has a pair of fixed side rails, so it’s sorta like the original 500 or 2CV. The other one was a full cabrio like a Mini.

About two years ago I was in the Fiat studios with the design chief Roberto Giolito. In walked Luca de Meo, then marketing chief for Fiat and the man who had the smarts to get the 500 built in the first place.

De Meo sat us down and got Giolito to spark up the projector, and showed the computer renderings for the two proposals, and asked for opinions.

I said make this one – it would be cheaper (which is more in the spirit of the 500) and more rigid and reliable. I see that’s what they did. I’m sure that wasn’t because I said so.

The side rails, I think, are fixed. They don’t come off like in a Citroen C3 Pluriel. That’s too much complication, and it requires the car to be built heavier because it would need to be able to drive along without them and avoid permanently twisting. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to bolt them back on…

They also showed us a 500 three-door estate rendering. It was cute too. Here’s hoping.

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  1. jhitchenor said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 5:13 pm Link to comment Report comment

    some great spy shots on http://www.autoexpress.co .uk/news/spyshots/233971/ fiat_500_convertible.html looks good

  2. Moo Point said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 5:13 pm Link to comment Report comment

    i think its gonna be really cute as the fiat 500 is at the moment :) ….glad they stuck with the original theme and good that they kept it light otherwise it would just be too slow

  3. Moo Point said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 5:16 pm Link to comment Report comment

    jhitchenor thanks for the pics looks good even if they are a bit grainy …nice that they’ve kept the style with a brown roof instead of a bold black one :)

  4. Wyvern said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 5:37 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Aw, crap. Just when I’d made my mind up to buy a 500, they announce a cabrio, and they’re doing it properly and everything, so of course, I want it. Bugger. Now I’m going to have to wait for that one to come out.

  5. jazz said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 5:52 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Can’t wait hopefully it will still be good to drive without the roof. It looks really great a million miles better than a pluriel.

  6. Obelix said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 5:57 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I don’t think anyone expected Fiat500 with roof like at Mini. As you said, this way is more traditional, rigid, cheaper to build, cheaper to buy, maybe even easier to use. I only don’t like that tiny rear windshield. It could go at least 4-5 more centimeters in all directions (like offset, if anyone works in Rhinoceros, they’ll get it lol)

  7. Mikeado said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 6:02 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I’m glad they (possibly) followed your advice. It makes more sense from a marketing perspective, being like the original ‘n’ all, and sets it apart from other tiny convertibles.

    No room for testicles in there, though, so I’ll continue saving up for the Abarth.

  8. Wyvern said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm Link to comment Report comment

    It isn’t exactly testicle friendly, I’ll grant you, but I don’t have any so I’ll be ok :) But I was looking at the Abarth this afternoon and honestly, if I could justify group 13 insurance, I’d snap it up in a heartbeat. Of course, they might do an Abarth cabrio eventually. Hmm, picking up an adequate old banger for a couple of years is starting to sound appealing…

  9. american idol said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 8:35 pm Link to comment Report comment

    testicles is exactly what it needs :D wait for the abarth.. can´t be bad

  10. catersam said...
    Friday February 13, 2009 at 8:49 pm Link to comment Report comment

    It’s gunna be terrific, if they can avoid the Pluriel image, which they should.

  11. Ronald H. said...
    Saturday February 14, 2009 at 6:16 am Link to comment Report comment

    That looks lovely! And so in the spirit of the original too. I guess all that finacial woes from the recent past has made Fiat very smart.

    I’ve resisted buying a 500 for some time now, but I think I can resist no more, testicles or not. Great!

  12. Slatt said...
    Saturday February 14, 2009 at 10:41 am Link to comment Report comment

    I am in the process of ordering my company car and i have the choice between the scirocco 2.0TDi or the 1.4TSi????? Can somebody advise please??

    Cheers

    Slatt

  13. Alex said...
    Saturday February 14, 2009 at 12:33 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Looks like a cute little runaround for in town. I really like the roof, it looks different from everything else and that’s a good thing.

    I fear however it’s going to be quite a girly car, like the normal 500 and both version of the Mini.

    Space in the back (if the was any in the first place) will be gone, but hey, you don’t buy this car for its practicality. Buy a Panda if you want a small and practical car, this 500 is al about shape and fun for the costs of a pint of milk.

  14. BASSBOY 007 said...
    Saturday February 14, 2009 at 12:56 pm Link to comment Report comment

    it looks like something i drew at the back of my maths exercise book……

  15. american idol said...
    Saturday February 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm Link to comment Report comment

    bassB. ..keep up the good work and maybe one day we´ll be killing time scribling about your latest design :D

  16. Manbearpig said...
    Saturday February 14, 2009 at 7:48 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Paul,

    I’m not sure I agree that Fiat should have gone with the ‘traditional’ fixed side rails.

    Lets face it, convertibles of this type are cars for posers. As such; the 500 having side rails, puts it at a disadvantage against its main competition, the mini conv.

    Can’t argue against it from an engineering perspective though, but do the target market really care about rigidity etc.?

  17. Wyvern said...
    Saturday February 14, 2009 at 8:40 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Manbearpig, by ‘target market’, do you mean ‘women’?

    Because yes, I do. I don’t want it wobbling all over the place like a jelly, or weighed down by reinforcing. And funnily enough, the fixed side rails are what makes this more appealing to me, because it is in keeping with the spirit of the 500. It would have been boring if it had been like everything else.

    And that’s avoiding the obvious innuendo about women wanting things to be rigid ;-)

  18. Mikeado said...
    Sunday February 15, 2009 at 12:55 am Link to comment Report comment

    Manbearpig, surely they’d go for a bigger cabrio to pose in? Otherwise it’s not adequate compensation.

    Besides, a 500 merely stands out, it does not flash. This justifies a slightly different way of doing a roof.

    And thank you Wyvern for the joke dodging. I bet that was very ‘hard’ for you.

  19. Manbearpig said...
    Sunday February 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Not once did i stipulate the target market to be women, and i certainly wouldn’t suggest that women don’t want cars that handle etc.

    However, I still believe that the vast majority of people who go for such convertibles would gladly sacrifice a bit of performance for the full convertible effect. As for keeping it traditional… it just smacks of taking the easy way out. I’ll bet the reason the original 500 didn’t get a full conv version, was because it was virtually impossible back then.

    At least it will keep the price down though and its nice to know that some rag top customers prefer performance to poseability.

  20. Mongoose said...
    Sunday February 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm Link to comment Report comment

    It looks like a pluriel, don’t deny it..

  21. R8- Best Diesel Ever said...
    Sunday February 15, 2009 at 5:32 pm Link to comment Report comment

    So, do you think they will make an 500 abarth convertible!? Think 430 Scuderia Convertible, except a fiat 500!

  22. Mikeado said...
    Sunday February 15, 2009 at 7:40 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Tbh, I’d rather there wasn’t an Abarth Cabrio. There’s no Astra CC VXR, no Eos GTi, no 207 CC GTi, so there shouldn’t be a 500 Abarth Cabrio. A hot hatch with a folding roof isn’t a hot hatch. The only reason there’s a Mini JCW Cabrio is because bloody BMW treat the Mini as a cash cow and thus make as many variations as possible…

  23. svrallo svrallone said...
    Monday February 16, 2009 at 1:17 am Link to comment Report comment

    Well mikeado those are all good reason to make it :-)

  24. C J said...
    Monday February 16, 2009 at 11:39 am Link to comment Report comment

    Looking fantastic – oodles of character, it’ll be cheap, and brilliant fun. If they keep it at under £10,000, it’ll sell like hot italian cakes. Well done Fiat!

  25. G-R-G said...
    Monday February 16, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to comment Report comment

    That kind of folding top does a number of nice things on this car.
    -It keeps in the tradition of the original, for those who care about this stuff, that is.
    -It saves boot space, which is a very appreciable feat in terms of practicality: you don’t have to choose between open roof and a usable boot.
    -It doesn’t reduce the space for passengers in the backseat. On the contrary, I suspect the thinner structure of the ragtop could actually mean improved head room for your friends, if you have any ;)
    -As noted by several other people here, it also probably helps the 500c keeping those 5 EuroNCAP stars of the fixed roof 500, without the need of a heavily reinforced and stiffened chassis; thus probably keeping the performances intact, more or less. In which case an Abarth version for the 500c could actually make some sense (red with a black top would be nice, wouldn’t it?).

  26. madmangus said...
    Monday February 16, 2009 at 9:18 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I fink the fiat 500 is a good little car but looks ceap!

  27. Mikeado said...
    Monday February 16, 2009 at 11:31 pm Link to comment Report comment

    There are official pictures of the 500C at http://www.carwalls.com

    Something strikes me about the rearward vision with the roof down: erm, there isn’t any.

  28. BoBi said...
    Sunday February 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Yeah. the tiny little fiat is now becoming even better than its main rival-the MINI Cooper

  29. lamboman said...
    Saturday February 28, 2009 at 6:20 pm Link to comment Report comment

    i hate the fait 500. taking of the top is going to make it worse

  30. F(92+obs)1l0z0f said...
    Thursday March 5, 2009 at 11:10 am Link to comment Report comment

    Trying to be cool,but,oh my god what a wonder,it isn’t.Enough with rubbish cars please…

  31. vegard said...
    Saturday March 7, 2009 at 12:39 pm Link to comment Report comment

    rubish cars that is not a rubbish car its actually a verry good car its: small, cheap, vell equipped and spacios and cute and best of all you cold have the abarth ss version wich is even better:

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