The Fiat 500 may be common on the roads of Europe, but North America has had to wait a couple of years before this small car appears on this side of the Atlantic.
As a prelude to its North American Introduction, Mopar showed a one-off Fiat 500 ‘GT’ Concept under their new Mopar ‘Underground’ brand at SEMA. Many of the Speedhunters team are big fans of the 500 and in many ways, I prefer this concept to the Abarth variants with their loud graphics.
According to show staff, this was very much a after-hours project at their Mopar design centre in Michigan. They also claimed they were canvassing opinion before deciding on production. I would love that to be the case….but, I’ve heard that before.
The donor car is a European spec 500 which has been tastefully modified, influenced by the original Fiat 500 Abarth 695.
Unlike its modern-day Abarth cousin, this concept does away with 'in your face' graphics and uses its stance, wide fender flares and color to emphasis its sporty nature. Unfortunately, the 1.4 injection is standard and hasn’t seen any Mopar love.
This top down view shows the fender flares. Tastefully done. Good to see, they dropped the Matte Black Hood from the concept drawing. That may have been one stage too far.
I love the body colour, a deep Metallic Blue Graphite.
At the front, the car has gained a subtle splitter and now has brake cooling ducts where the European sidelights were previously located. The car is also lowered with an Abarth suspension kit.
The Wheels are 18 inch Aloca Forged Aluminum wheels, designed by Mopar.
Notice the Red flash on one of the ‘spokes’. I saw this one-spoke color treatment on a couple of cars at the show, most noticeably Ken Block’s Ford Focus RS, which Linhbergh featured last week and Block’s Fiesta rally cars.
At the rear, a new diffuser and exhaust have been fitted while the chrome trim is now body color.
The interior has also been redesigned by the Mopar Underground designers.
The stock body colored dash panel has been painted Piano Black and is a nice offset to the grey trim. Unlike the exterior, chrome trim remains.
The driver seat and door arm are covered in a Racing Red Katzkin seat, while the passengers are in Black.
This is a very well resolved concept, which is close to production ready.
The Fiat stand was positioned alongside the ‘Mopar’ Alley, where classic and modern Dodges are located. It was interesting listen to the diverse opinion on this car and how Fiat now own Chrysler. Many old-school Mopar fans had issues with a car which could fit in the trunk of their favorite muscle car!
The FIAT 500 will make its debut in North America at the end of the year in a more sedate form. The Sport is shown above. The US/CDN spec cars have a modified floor-pan, specification and a revised front bumper, which mimics the Abarth. The Abarth ‘may’ follow late 2011, early 2012, but this has not been 100% confirmed.
I’m tempted…….very tempted!
- Andy Blackmore