New Cars

Classic editions Fiat, VW play up nostalgia game

Retro colours and design cues add historical character to low cost models

2015 Fiat 500 1957 Edition Cabrio

Several years back, there was a resurgence in retro-styles with cars from the Beetle to the Dodge Challenger creating modern day throwbacks to classics.

It was out of this period that the Fiat 500 was reborn (again) and finally brought back to North America.

Today, as cars naturally evolve with updated technology, the aim seems to be to make these modern day tributes a little more “classic.” Two of the most famous — the Beetle and the Fiat 500 (both initially introduced after World War 2) — have released tribute editions to harken back to the models’ iconic roots..

The Fiat 500 was initially introduced in 1949 to satisfy needs for an economical car in post-war Italy. The original front-engined model was re-launched in 1957 as the Nuova 500 (the New 500), taking on the rear engine, rear drive configuration popularized by the Volkswagen Type 1 (Beetle, if you will) that began civilian production in 1945. Nearly four million Nuova 500s would be built by the time the model ceased production in 1975.Similarly, the original Beetle was produced until 2003 and yielded 21 million models.

Today’s 500 hatchback and now convertible, will have a 1957 Edition that resurrects some past colours. The Cabrio version joins that was introduced in 2014. Among its features is a premium two layer power rollback cloth top that encloses the cabin from the elements much like the canvas roof of the original Nuova Cinquecento. It will be available in spring 2015.

Based on the Lounge trim level, the 1957 Edition equipment list includes a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch forged retro design aluminum wheels with historic FIAT logo, and a premium Marrone (brown) and Avorio (ivory) leather interior (seats and trim). Three classic exterior colors are available: Bianco (white), Verde Chiaro (light green) and exclusive Celeste (celestial blue), with the classic Fiat badges front and rear centre.

Power comes from the 1.4-litre MultiAir four-cylinder engine linked to a five-speed transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional.

Volkswagen introduced a tribute version of its halo model, the Beetle Classic, at the beginning of 2015. Among its throwback features are the “Heritage” bright dome wheels for which past Beetles were known.

The interior treatment is also a historic touch, with two-tone brown and beige cloth and leatherette seating, and a dash panel to match the exterior classic colour choice (Reflex Silver, Moon Rock Silver Metallic, Pure White and Deep Black Pearl).

Power comes from the 170-hp 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine linked to a five-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic is optional).

The Limited Edition Beetle Classic is now in dealerships, starting at $21,990.

New Cars | Classic Cars

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