Here at The Garage, it’s a safe assumption no one has a more irrational admiration for everything Fiat than myself (that I just bought a 1981 Fiat 124 Spider speaks to my insanity, but that’s another post). So when the opportunity came up to climb back in a 500C, I was not going to let the fact that it was winter stop me.
The 500 has been zipping around the US since 2012, and we loved it then, but what has Fiat been up to with the tiny Italian since then? As it turns out, not very much. There is a revised front passenger seat for improved headroom, an available armrest (a feature lacking in ’12 cars I was not happy about), an upgraded instrument cluster, Bluetooth, and an improved center console with an additional USB port. Although our test car was a 2015, 2016 models are about the same with one exception: until now, if you wanted GPS in your 500, you were relegated to a TomTom unit that plugged into the top of the dashboard, and easily the worst GPS system I have ever encountered. Fiat has finally addressed that glaring problem.
But, that’s it? Yes, that’s it. The 500 is so impossibly cute, it seems sacrilege to mess with the styling. So we’ve seen a smattering of minor improvements along the way, as well as the addition of the higher performance 500 Turbo and bad boy 500 Abarth.
To keep things interesting with the ‘regular’ 500, in 2014 Fiat introduced the 1957 Edition. Available in hardtop and cabrio form, Fiat takes its top-spec Lounge model (the posh 500, as opposed to the edgier Sport) and adds the 1957 Edition as an option package, intended to honor the original Cinquicento.
What sets the 1957 Edition apart? Most noticeable is a choice of four retro colors: Bianco (white), Latte Menta (light green), Verde Chiara (green) or Celeste (light blue) offset with 16″ retro body color wheels, white capped mirrors, exclusive Avorio (ivory) interior with gorgeous Marrone (brown) leather seats, leather steering wheel, retro Fiat badging, driver/passenger front seatback pockets, and a retro fascia with chrome accents.
Otherwise, this is the same 500 we know and love. Power comes from a 1.4L four rated at 101hp, with a choice of a five speed manual or six speed automatic. That’s a very modest figure by modern standards, but thankfully the 500’s small size and light weight allow for a fun, if not quick driving experience. The five speed is what you want to squeeze the most fun out of the car, but even equipped with the automatic, as our test car was, the 500 will still put a smile on your face. Scooting down tight, twisting roads, one is reminded that a lot of horsepower is not always the recipe for driving fun.
Since all 1957 Edition 500’s start out as the Lounge model, standard features include cruise control, premium audio with XM satellite radio, steering wheel mounted controls, halogen projector headlights, fog lamps and chrome exhaust tip. Our Fiat 500C 1957 Edition came with one sole option, the automatic transmission. Including destination, our test car retails for $27,030. The 1957 Edition package added $1,900 to the price of a 500C Lounge. That’s a premium price for a small car, but there is no arguing the car’s charm.
So, the 1957 Edition takes everything we love about the 500C and adds even more charm and character. And what we don’t love-unremarkable fuel economy (27/34mpg city/highway), no trunk space, ridiculously tiny rear seat, and laughable rear visibility. But if you want a car that encapsulates all the romance of ‘Roman Holiday’ and 1950’s Italy in a modern package, your car has arrived.