Fiat 501 Convertible Coupé - 1926— An important milestone in Fiat’s history —
- Model A key model for Fiat that would establish the brand as the popular Italian car per excellence.
- History The very first Fiat in the immediate post-war period launched in 1919.
- Positioning An affordable car available in multiple versions and a perfect answer to the contemporary Ford T.
- Bodywork A very rare, original and interesting modular English bodywork.
- Name The first Fiat in a long line to adopt the new in-house nomenclature starting with the number 5.
The Fiat 501 was born in a difficult post-war context, in 1919, when much of Europe was bereft of money and industries had to quickly reposition themselves. It was a smart answer to the Ford T with its important commercial ambitions. In this respect, the bet was a success: sales were high, not to forget a real racing success with a victory in the gruelling Targa Florio.
A popular post-war car.
The Fiat 501 is an important milestone in the history of Europe’s car industry in the immediate post WW1 era. In fact, in a difficult economic context, conversion was not easy for industries; they had to re-equip themselves and find large, stable production volumes that would guarantee a better future.
Ford tried to take advantage of this crisis in European industry to conquer the European markets with its ingenious and accessible Ford T. European manufacturers had to face up to this situation. And it was Fiat that initiated the movement with the launch of its 501 in 1919. It was a small car, 1,460 cm3, developing 23 hp at 2,600 rpm.
Designed by Carlo Cavalli, the Fiat 501 met all the ambitious specifications of its time: it was robust, spacious, relatively powerful and above all affordable and fuel-efficient. These characteristics guaranteed success in a context of increasing democratisation of car use, as road infrastructures developed.
The Turin-based manufacturer then adopted a new nomenclature where the names of the cars began with the number 5. As such, the 501 inaugurated a great line of cars.
In this respect, it was an appropriate and intelligent response to the two successful models of the time, the Ford T of course, but also the Citroën Type A. Both cars were designed and built with similar specifications, intended to be mass-produced, and sold at an affordable price.
At that time, other French cars from Peugeot and Renault could not compete with their higher prices.
A real success for Fiat
The Fiat 501 was a commercial success with 45,000 cars produced between 1919 and 1926.
As was the norm at the time, it was also produced in a number of commercial, family and two-seater Sport versions, while retaining the Fiat DNA: being the popular Italian car par excellence.
The 501S (Sport) and 501SS (Spider Sport) sports versions were launched in 1921. A competition version called 802 was also launched with the 1,486 cm3 engine increased to 55 hp. It won the Targa Florio in 1922.
In 1923, the so-called colonial 501C was launched for the King of Italy’s armies in Africa. It was followed in 1923 by the Type 502 version and in 1926 by the 503. A long line of models called 505, 507, 508, 509, 512 and 520 followed them.
The Fiat 501 from the ANNA LISA Collection
Built in 1926, the ANNA LISA Art On Wheels Collection’s example belongs to the last series of 501s produced in the Fiat factories.
It is more than likely that its chassis produced by Fiat was exported new to England to adopt a very interesting convertible doctor’s coupe body.
Thanks to a clever system of retractable windows and pillars, this Fiat can be transformed in a few minutes into a typical mid-1920s convertible. The engine is not blocked, and all the fittings (of English origin) are present.
All in all, this is a very interesting and original Fiat 501 in garnet red with its convertible body.