Patrick Rall's picture

The 1948 Fiat 500 Topolino at the 2011 EyesOn Design

This Sunday brings the Detroit area the 24th annual EyesOn Design car show but throughout this week there have been smaller events leading up to the big Father’s Day show, including the media preview where I got a chance to check out a gorgeous 1948 Fiat Topolino 500.

The Fiat 500 was originally introduced in 1936 as a coupe, convertible (shown on the right) and a 3-door station wagon and this new micro car quickly earned the nickname Topolino - Italian for little mouse (Topolino is also the Italian name for Disney’s Mickey Mouse). When it hit the market, it was one of the smallest cars available in the world and thanks to the mechanical design moving the radiator behind the engine; Fiat was able to offer a long, sloping front end in an era where almost every other car on the road had a flat front end to accommodate proper cooling.

The 1948 Fiat 500 Topolino convertible featured a unique roll-back style top, where the canvas roof rode in tracks that provided a roofline even when the top was down. Inside, the 500 Topolino had only two seats but they offered quite a bit of leg room in the incredibly minimalistic layout. The gauge cluster is centrally located on the dash with just two gauges – the one in front of the driver showing the fuel level and oil pressure and the one in front of the passenger holding the speedometer and odometer. The speedometer of the 1948 Fiat 500 goes up to 70 miles per hour even though the 13 horsepower 4-cylinder engine can only reach a top speed of around 53mph. Leather seats and door panels add a touch of class to the old school Fiat and sliding door windows and leg vents allowed fresh air into the cabin.

While the Fiat 500 Topolino was replaced by the Fiat 600 in 1955, the “little mouse” lead the way for the next Fiat 500 which in turn brought us the curvy little Fiat 500 introduced in the United States just a few months ago. Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the 1948 Fiat 500 Topolino and if you are looking for a great car show this Sunday, head to the Edsel Ford mansion for the 2011 EyesOn Design car show.

More EyesOn Design News from correspondent Frank Sherosky:
Media Day Preview a success for 2011 EyesOn Design
Visually-impaired inspectors show skills on Media Day for EyesOn Design

Other Fiat News:
Fiat offers Canadian govt $125 million for their final stake in Chrysler
Fiat to buy final US gov’t Chrysler stake for $560 million
Chrysler leads the Big 3 in May 2011 growth
Canadian government may sell remaining stake to Fiat
Fiat plans to buy last 6.6% of Chrysler from US govt

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