Even before the first Mini (the car, that is) appeared on the scene in the UK, the Italians already had their first ‘micro car” out and running: the Fiat 500.
Fiat started building the Fiat 500 in 1957 and continued this model until 1975. Minor modifications were made, but basically the Fiat 500 stayed what it was planned to be: a cheap, tiny car with a 2-cylinder air-cooled motor with a maximum speed of about 70 miles per hours. In short – and that can be taken literally with a length of less than 3 meter (116.9 in) – it was the perfect city car.
And not only that, people traveled in these little cars. Not the distances one is used from the US, but I remember that an aunt of mine came up to the North of Germany from near Munich with one of these tiny little things; and that would have been a distance of roughly 500 miles.
So imagine my delight when I saw this cutie today in front of a Trader Joe’s:
Somehow it gave the expression “mint condition” a totally new meaning; and reminded me of those days of my youth when a Fiat 500 was not a rare exotic vehicle, but an everyday car you saw at every corner.