Great Small Fiats is a tribute to some of the best small Fiats ever produced.
In deciding which models to include in this book, Phil Ward concentrated on three criteria - greatness, size and emotion. Where size is an easy parameter to qualify, greatness is more complicated because it is a combination of of both the manufacturer's and the public's opinion. A car that is highly regarded by the public may not have been a commercial success and vice versa. A truly great car is one that works well for both parties. Emotion may be considered to be an element of greatness in that the public's 'love' for a car is a fantastic benefit for a manufacturer and must be treasured. Fiat have made the mistake of 'improving' an icon on several occasions only to find that public opinion went against them. Fortunately Fiat has been magnanimous enough to respond by giving the car-buying public more of what it wants. As long as they continue to do so then Fiat's reputation as the world's greatest small car manufacturer is set to continue.
The author chose the Topolino as the starting point, as it fulfils all the criteria, and was the first Fiat built in the late 1930s to satisfy the Italian public's new-found desire for mobilisation. The old conventions of car production were turned upside down with the arrival of the 600 which revolutionised car production techniques and maximised on passenger space and performance at minimal cost. These principles continued via a succession of models which include the 500, 850, 126, 127 through to more recent models like the Cinquecento and Seicento.
Running in parallel with these "cheeky" Fiats, this book covers a range of slightly larger cars that were built in huge numbers. Though rather staid in appearance, the 1950s Millecento was family transport for millions of Italians covering three decades, four when the Indian-built cars are included. Similarly the 128, Panda and Uno were 'the' Italian small cars of the '70s, '80s and '90s. Nuova Panda carries the banner through to recent models.