A Different Kind of Vintage Car

When you think of a classic vintage car one of two types of automobiles probably comes to mind, either an upright antique similar to a model T or a sporty hot rod such as a Lamborghini, Mustang or Porsche. Yet, when someone  brings up vintage automobiles, my first thought is the iconic Fiat 600 Multipla, a very different type of vehicle.

 

Fiat 600 Multipla | Vintage Italian Iconic Car

Fiat 600 Multipla | Vintage Italian Car

The Birth of a New Fiat

In the 1950s Fiat faced the challenge of designing models suited to the reality of post-war Italian life. Any new car would have to meet the needs of modern Italian families while being as popular as the hugely successful pre-war Fiat 500 “Topolino.” Introduced at the Geneva Motorshow in 1955, the Fiat 600 Multipla met this challenge with a style that was completely unique for the time.

 

Fiat 600 Multipla | Family trip

Fiat 600 Multipla | Family trip

 

Chief technical designer Dante

Fiat Chief technical designer Dante Giocosa

 

Scandalous Car Design

Fitting 6 passengers in three compact rows, the Fiat 600 Multipla was both compact and efficient. The novel droplet shape was the result of moving the driver’s seat forward over the front axle. Even the two car doors were considered innovative since the hinges were affixed towards the rear end of the vehicle. This new look caused quite a bit of scandal at the time since when the car door swung open it gave a clear view of the female passengers’ legs. Given that most women wore skirts and hemlines were becoming shorter, it was inevitable that magazines offered up articles on the correct movement for getting in and out of the Multipla without arousing too much interest from passing men.

Fiat 600 Multipla | Six people or a lot of luggage!

The Fiat 600 Multipla had forward-facing doors

 

Fiat 600 Multipla | Scandalous for women!

Fiat 600 Multipla

 

Fiat 600 Multipla| Cab use

The Fiat 600 Multipla was also used as a Taxi cab

 

The Revolution in Car Travel

The Fiat 600 Multipla was born at the same time as consumer culture in Italy. The car was marketed as being the perfect vehicle for families who now had the time and resources to enjoy travel, vacations and leisure activities. Smiling children, doting parents, and sweet young couples enjoyed camping trips off the beaten track and sightseeing outings in the city in Fiat’s print and television ads.  The message was clear: you have no more excuses because the road you’ve always wanted to travel is accessible thanks to the Multipla!

 

Fiat 600 Multipla | Perfect for a small trip

Fiat 600 Multipla | Perfect for a small trip

 

Some designers were so inspired by the idea of the Multipla as the ultimate vacation car that they tried to make it ideal for the beach as well. The famous Italian design firm Pininfarina produced the Multipla Marina, an open-top version of the original and designer Giovanni Michelotti created the open-sided Marinella which featured wicker seats.  While neither of the beach versions was a success, the Multipla continues to be an icon of Italian car design even today. It was not only a new and revolutionary concept for the time, it was also the birth of the minivan!

 

Fiat 600 Multipla | The "Marina"

Fiat 600 Multipla Marina

 

Fiat 600 Multipla | The "Marinella"

Fiat 600 Multipla Marinella

 

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