Friday, July 17, 2009

Reduced to the max or how the first Fiat Panda was unique

When Fiat introduced the Fiat Panda in 1980 it was quite a sensation. Giorgo Giugiaro had designed a very basic car with quite a "boxy" shape, but superior interior size. While its weight was less than 800 kg it could seat 5 people and even take some luggage on top. Seats looks like garden furniture, but the interior was very flexible so that you could even set the sets up as a large bed (with a gear lever between the two halfs). It was very cheap too, in today's currency roughly 5'000 Euros. So, this super functional car won many hearts including mine. My Panda had the opening roof and the 1 liter 45 HP machine. It wasn't that quick as you can imagine. Actually I would consider this car as one of the most dangerious car I have ever owned, not because of bad handling or so, but rather because you got used to take risks to still be able to overtake.
Noise level was quite high and you needed a big stereo to enjoy some music. But it was a very practical car and very economical too. Over some 30'000 kms the average fuel consumption was roughly 6.8 liters per 100 km. Not bad for the level of engineering applied. And most of the time the car had to deliver its full power and was revved to its max. output.
The sales brochure was quite funny too, showing the flexibility of the interior and its crude design.
Maintenance was of course super simple. The car came also as Seat and it was built until 2003 in various derivates. Today, not many of the first cars with the asymmetrical front grill have survived, soon they will be collector's territory. Would I want to have it back? Probably not. But I certainly would enjoy driving one again.

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