Nostalgia. Fiat Panda: small car… big success

Fiat is no stranger to simple yet popular subcompacts. The manufacturer Transalpin is the author of the Topolino, 500, 600 or even 126 models.

It is the latter that is starting to get updated and instead of repainting the Cinquecento concept again, Fiat will start from scratch and gain incredible momentum.

The specifications are clear and ambitious: you must design a smart car that will cost as little as possible while still being a “real car”.

If the 126 needs to be replaced in the first place, this Fiat must above all have a European vocation, being able to sell in countries other than Italy.

Giugiaro’s masterpiece

The solution will come from the Italian master Giorgetto Giugiaro. He is referring to a stripped-down and practical city car design.

Offering Renault his project to replace the Renault 4, he knocked on Fiat’s door. If Panda uses the clear lines of the Golf, which he also developed, the concept will be completely different.

It’s all about saving money. Flat glazing, including the windshield, helps keep costs down.

This recipe for simple design carries over into the interior, with fabric-covered metal frames for seats and simple upholstery, such as bodywork in the saloon.

At Fiat, we accept the project and give carte blanche to the designer.

Simple, basic

This little Fiat will surprise many. Behind its forms, both simple and timeless, lies a terribly practical car.

More livable than the 126, it’s also much more modern than the Renault 4, while being more versatile and practical.

Its seats were designed to form a bed when folded. Their fabric is removable and washable, as is the dashboard cover.

The seat is adjustable but also removable to form a large chest. Maintenance is limited to a strict minimum and its price is unbeatable.

Panda floods Europe

If the small Fiat starts with two engines, a 652cc air-cooled twin borrowed from the Fiat 126 and a 45hp 45hp 127 from the 127, the lineup will quickly fill up with multiple 1982 versions. .

The city car is redesigned with more advanced trim and options such as the box 5 or sunroof in its “Super” version. Fiat returns to the stage with a new brand logo consisting of 5 slanted stripes.

In 1986, an entirely new line of engines eliminated the Panda’s main shortcoming. FIRE engines are modern and attract the interest of the public. But this is another version that will take Panda to the top.

Panda 4X4, pocket franchisor

Fiat will have the idea to offer all-wheel drive on their small city car to revolutionize the all-wheel drive market and make it affordable.

Panda maintains traction, and when the need arises, the driver engages the rear axle.

The Austrian manufacturer Steyr will be responsible for the development of this variant. The Panda 4X4 will have a second career in the luxury resorts of the Swiss, French or Italian Alps.

Giovanni Agnelli, Fiat’s big boss, falls in love and builds a car to his liking. Panda has become a real adventurer and will even take part in the 1984 Dakar with Evelyn Deliat!


After selling 3,919,203 copies, Panda fulfilled its mission. Restore the image of Fiat in popular subcompacts.

A formula that will be updated with the second generation launched in 2003 and then with the current generation that has been around since 2012.

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