The Dynamighty No.1: The Fiat 500

January 2, 2011

It’s not because “500” is engraved on the handle of the boot, or the way the speedometer’s needle on the outer circle scampers after the rev counter on the inner. It’s not because the white dashboard and steering wheel lifts my mood as soon as I get in. And it’s not because “RV”, the first two letters of his number plate, gave us a reason to christen him Harvey. It should be obvious why the Car of The Year (2008) deserves a place in my top five of the greatest things ever, because extensive scientific tests have already proved that when a Nissan Micra goes to sleep, it dreams of being a Fiat 500, and when a Fiat 500 dreams, it sometimes has nightmares of waking up as a Toyota iQ. But perhaps if you believe cars don’t have to be mean, or imposing, or cutely miniaturised, then in an idle moment, you too might dream of the cheery Cinquecento.

I have never particularly liked cars, but I love Fiat 500s. That’s because, by any conventional aesthetic terms, they aren’t cars at all. If cool can still mean alienated, then cars are unenviably cool: low and reptilian, or bulkily lumbering through increasingly encroached environments, they appear as if the outside world, with all its wonder and endless possibilities, has not had the slightest influence on their design. Then there’s the 500 and its wide-eyed, placid and quietly fearless face: it is the look of an expectant traveller awaiting the next journey and all its attendant experiences and sensations. In its spirit, it is the closest a car will ever come to a bicycle, which is why I love my 500.

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