Throwback Thursday 1966: the Fiat 500 and Abarth 595

Kris Culmer
14 June 2018
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The "reborn" 500 has been a huge success for Fiat, so much so that it is now aligning its whole brand around it. The car"s retro design still looks fresh and it remains as popular as it was when it was launched 11 years ago.

A pleasant byproduct of the city car"s success for enthusiasts has been the growth of the Abarth performance brand, which was properly relaunched in 2007. 

Abarth has the 595 and 695 hot hatches — ramped-up versions of the 500. These produce between 143bhp and 178bhp, which doesn"t exactly sound mind-blowing today, even if the 500 produces just 69bhp in its cheapest form.

But it does when you compare it with the original Fiat 500 Abarth of 1958, though. Arriving a year after the Nuova Cinquecento, this doubled the 499cc engine"s power output from a now scarcely believable 13bhp to 26bhp, courtesy of a little tuning.

To advertise its brand, Abarth ran the car around the Monza circuit for seven days and seven nights at an average speed of 67mph. Fiat was so impressed by this feat that it commissioned 100 examples to be sold at its Italian dealerships.