In its modern-day phase, Italian supermini has built a glamorous image. Most of that comes from the dozens of special editions which the Fiat 500 has offered through the years
Every now and then, we get a chance to write about special editions. They are essentially marketing tricks, of course, but many of them have more to offer. Many of them actually tell a story, whether to celebrate a brand, an event, or the car’s own history. Besides, the best ones feature unique details in terms of design. If you know a little about cars, you will agree that the Fiat 500 is a wonderful example in that topic.
In case you do not know why is that, there is no problem. Basically, Fiat has invested a lot in creating such editions for the modern-day Cinquecento. A lot. To a point that we could divide them into categories and there would still be many in each one. This article is going to show you ten of the most impressive special editions released over the years, but only after talking a little more about the car. We hope you enjoy!
What makes the Fiat 500 so special?
Fiat tried to capitalize on the classic 500’s image for the first time in 1992. The Cinquecento came with the same small size and no-frills build, but it had a much more stoic appearance. It was a competent base car in Europe, but definitely lacked its predecessor’s charisma. Fiat massaged its design to comply with newer trends in 1998, and renamed it Seicento, but it did not help much. The Italians would need to do more.
The Trepiùno concept anticipated a typical retro design. The new 500 would be bigger and more refined, but it would stay in the supermini market segment. However, this time Fiat had a trick up its sleeve. Since the Panda was already taking care of entry-level buyers, the Cinquecento became an image car. It was the company’s first venture into the la dolce vita style which it would embrace many times in the future.
Once the modern-day 500 appeared, in 2007, Fiat searched for all possible partnerships to create special editions for it. The car ended up associated with several fashion brands, performance automakers, and its own past self. Not only did that make it worldwide famous, but also converted the car into a fashion icon. It sold very well for over a decade, and now stays beside its own new generation, which came in 2020.
Fiat 500 special editions
We made this list with some criteria to keep it organized. First, we have excluded regular versions such as Abarth because they have a different focus. Second, we excluded one-off studies too because, again, they are something different. Third, we only chose special editions of the first modern generation; it is the one that concentrates the most of them. The other ones will surely have their own articles in the future!
Abarth 500 esseesse
If you know even a little bit of the Fiat 500 history, you surely have seen its Abarth version. When it comes to the modern car, the high-performance sibling became popular enough to have its own special editions. The first of them was esseesse, a conversion kit which the owner could have installed in its car with twelve months or 12,000 miles of its registration. It was available for the hatchback and the 500C convertible.
The esseesse conversion includes cross-drilled and ventilated brake discs with new pads, lower springs, a sportier air filter, exclusive 17″ alloy wheels in white or titanium color, 205/40 R17 tires, and a unique key cover. Besides that, the turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir engine receives technical upgrades that make it reach 158 hp of power and 152 lb-ft of torque. The latter goes to 170 lb-ft in the Sport driving mode.
Fiat 500 Barbie
What could be better than a classic product paying tribute to another classic product? In 2009, Mattel and Fiat worked together to create this special edition for toy icon Barbie’s 50th anniversary. The official debut happened in Milan’s fashion district, in front of the La Rinascente department store where German singer Nena made a live performance. The car also debuted at a similar store in the UK shortly after that.
As the pictures show, Mattel bathed the car in pink. The body paint uses that color in a pearlescent shade that makes a fashionable contrast with those chrome accents and silver wheels. While the cabin can easily be considered “too pink”, it becomes quite tasteful for the standards of this special edition. The Fiat 500 Barbie also came with makeup products, but it was only available in the regular hatchback version.
Abarth 695 Edizione Maserati
If you believe that Ferrari-style tuning has become mainstream, this is the special edition for you. Abarth made a tribute to Maserati by making this 695 offer the best of sportiness and elegance. The sand beige Poltrona Frau seats simply glow surrounded by the Pista gray internal trim and the Bordeaux body paint. The model also brings a full equipment list including Xenon headlights and a premium audio system.
When it comes to performance, the Abarth 695 Edizione Maserati features 305-mm Brembo brake discs with four-piston calipers and exclusive shock absorbers, a dual-mode exhaust system with variable back pressure, five-speed manual gearbox with paddle shifters, and a new edition of the regular engine. The turbocharged 1.4L T-Jet was upgraded to deliver 178 hp. This model only came in the convertible body.
Fiat 500 Gucci Edition
The Cinquecento has had enough fashion-related editions to deserve a whole other article about them. This one, however, is particularly important because it celebrated 150 years of Italy’s reunification and 90 years of Gucci’s very foundation. The 500 and 500C were customized by Fiat along with Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini and came in two versions: black with white interior, and white with black interior.
The company’s signature green and red appear on a stripe at the waistline, on the seatbelts, and on some accents that decorate the seats and the convertible’s fabric roof. The seats, by the way, are a Poltrona Frau creation and come in Guccissima print. Fiat released this special edition in a world tour through key cities such as Berlin, Geneva, London, Paris, Saint Tropez and Tokyo and had its commercial release in July.
Fiat 500 Vintage 1957 Edition
This is a rare case where the special edition was named Vintage 57 in Europe and 1957 Edition in the USA. The car came in one of three pastel colors (white, blue, and green) paired with white roof and mirror caps. While the European version was available as a convertible too, the USA one had the set of 16″ wheels match the body color. The model also featured the vintage version of Fiat’s logo on the hood and the tailgate.
While Abarth special editions usually come with many mechanical upgrades as well, the “regular” Fiat 500 focuses on design. These retro-themed editions aimed to strengthen the car’s connection with the small hatchback which Fiat sold in huge quantities in the 1950s, especially in Italy. While the design changes are not the most beautiful to everyone, they definitely evoke that vibe especially in the convertible version.
Fiat 500 Riva
“The smallest yacht in the world”, as Fiat proudly stated in 2016. Riva is a reference in the nautical market and is as Italian as the 500. The partnership gave the car dashboard and gear knob made of mahogany, maple inlays on the dashboard, Poltrona Frau seats in ivory with Sera blue accents, and floor mats in the same color scheme. Inspiration came from the Aquariva Super, Riva’s current luxury yacht model.
The exterior stands out for the beautiful (and exclusive) shade of blue. The hatchback makes it contrast with a glossy-black roof while the convertible uses a blue fabric roof. Other distinctive details are the Riva logos on the body and the alloy wheels with exclusive blue inserts. The Fiat 500 and 500C Riva were sold primarily in European markets from 2016 to 2017. There was no information on their production run.
Fiat 500 Star and Rockstar
As if the Cinquecento had too few editions, every now and then, Fiat likes to release two of them at once. The Star is your regular luxury version, with a unique shade of white with pink nuances. It featured chrome accents, a panoramic sunroof, and the full equipment list. The model also features an exclusive color layout in the cabin, with two options for the upholstery, ecologic leather, and an embroidered “500” logo.
The Fiat 500 Rockstar, in turn, builds on the Sport version. It offers an exclusive matte green for the body, uses fewer chrome inserts, and invests in a more casual look. The company states that the seat upholstery uses ecologic leather and is “inspired by the pinstripe fabrics of the finest suits”. There are two exclusive color layouts here as well, and the equipment list featured all the items available for the car at that time.
Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro
While the Abarth 595 is already special and unique, Fiat chose to take things up a notch. This Cinquecento pays tribute to the Autobianchi A112 Targa Oro supermini, a highly limited edition that Abarth produced in the 1970s. While that supermini had only 150 units, the modern-day car had a production run of 2,000. All of them with the unique color layout of glossy black paint surrounded by golden accents of all types.
Opening the doors reveals an all-black color scheme with exclusive bucket seats, specially embroidered headrests, Beats audio system, camo-style seat upholstery, and Abarth logos everywhere. Since this car is based on the regular 595 Turismo, you will get a turbocharged 1.4L engine good for 165 hp. While the car did not go to the USA, it had high demand in Japan, which is a great market for compact cars like that.
Abarth 695 Tributo 131 Rally
In the 1970s, Fiat made a homologation special of its own. Instead of using Alfa Romeo or Lancia cars, it chose the 131 sedan to invest in extensive modifications to make it a competitive rally car. The Abarth 131 Rally became a legend in the company and is now remembered by the Fiat 500. More specifically, by the Abarth 695 sporty version, which has received yet another special edition named Tributo 131 Rally.
The beautiful shade of blue is just its first attraction. The body offers a two-tone layout with several black accents, including the roof, and has an exclusive aerodynamic kit. This car is based on the regular Abarth 695, so it features an exclusive Koni suspension and a turbocharged 1.4L engine good for 180 hp – the Italian tuner states it can dash from 0 to 62 mph in 6.7 seconds and reaches the top speed of 140 mph.
In the early 2010s, hybrid technology was common but the fully electric one was a distant dream. The car industry had less technology than today, so it was more difficult to optimize those cars in terms of energy consumption and performance. The FCA group was going through those problems, but stricter emissions laws were forcing it to embrace electrification. The 500e arrived in North America as a result of that.
Fiat invested in an exclusive body kit which did its best to make the Cinquecento more aerodynamic while preserving its iconic shape. The car even had an eSport version. However, it was heavier than the regular versions, had limited range and was much more expensive. Since the whole Fiat brand was not doing well in the region, the company decided to cut its losses and withdrew the electric hatchback in 2019.