Sunday, 01 August 2021

Celebrating 60 years of the first 'city car'

THERE are at least 500 reasons to visit the Regent Street Motor Show — one of the scores of displays filling London’s famous street will celebrate the 60th birthday of the original city car, the diminutive Fiat Cinquecento.

Introduced in Italy in 1957, the “Nuova 500” was marketed as a cheap, functional and economical town car for post-war Italy. At just over 2.5 metres (9ft) long and powered by a tiny rear mounted 479cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the little Fiat was an instant hit. Almost four million examples were built during its 18-year production run.

So iconic was the baby Fiat that it was reinvented a decade ago when the company re-introduced its name and shape in the modern 500… though at more than 3.5 metres from stem to stern, the latest version is considerably bigger than the original.

A special display staged by the Fiat 500 Club — itself celebrating its 25th anniversary this year — will depict the evolution of Italy’s ‘people’s car’ with several examples of the saloon and Giardiniera estate on show.

Another significant classic car club display will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the demise of London’s own car company, Talbot. One of the first purpose-built car factories was established in Barlby Road, Kensington, where the firm of Clément-Talbot was founded in 1903.

Combining the motor engineering expertise of Frenchman Adolphe Clément and the money and social standing of British aristocrat, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot, the cars were sold as Talbots and incorporated the Earl’s coat of arms in the badge.

This year’s motor show takes place tomorrow (Saturday). It is a unique free-to-view London motor show held from 10.30am to 4pm, and which previews the famous Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run supported by Hiscox with the Veteran Car International Concours d’Elegance. The event attracted no fewer than 400,000 visitors in 2016. For more information, visit www.