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Render: Americanized F500

by David Zatz on

Years ago, Rover developed a new Mini, but sold out to BMW before they could actually make it. As a result, when Mini hit American shores, it was made by BMW (with a Chrysler-derived engine), which gave it a little prestige; and it was familiar, since Americans had seen Minis in movies and on Mr. Bean.

Fiat thought it could emulate the Mini’s success, and followed much of the same playbook, but few Americans had fond memories of Fiat, and fewer remembered the old 500 despite its ubiquitousness in Europe. The lower-priced Fiat did well for a time, but eventually started to sink while the Mini swam.


James Mooney made the rendering above to show how the 500 could use cues from the new Fiat 124 Spider to attract more American buyers. To avoid needless expense, he kept most of the design, but gave it a true upper grill and more aggressive headlamps, since the quirky European styling may be off-putting to American car-buyers.  This would be for the North American 500 only, presented as a modernized evolution of the 500’s retro styling (like the latest Mustang redesign).

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