A Sneaky Classic Fiat Hides Behind A Bar In Midtown Atlanta
Suddenly, a 500!
This poor, scared, and neglected Fiat Nueva Cinquenta was hiding behind a restaurant after being left all alone with nowhere to go in the midst of a bustling metropolis. I don’t blame it for hiding, but it could have done a better job of concealing itself.
Poor thing! The wide traffic choked roads of Atlanta, Georgia full of fast moving SUVs and commercial trucks is no place for a tiny old Italian microcar.
It was designed for narrow backstreets of old Italian city centers, not Atlanta’s confusing grid of wide 2-6 lane one way streets which all happen to be named Peachtree something or other. It's a shame the poor Fiat was left to fend for itself on the streets. Miraculously, it hasn't been vandalized despite, according to satellite views, been parked there for most of the last 10 years. Perhaps it's just too cute to vandalize.
The nook it nestled itself in is pretty tight. Impressively tight actually.
Which makes me wonder how it got in and out with that railing in the way. Since I took these photos a few months ago, the car was actually removed. Satellite views show it has been removed and its position reinstated several times so perhaps its smiling face will grace the streets of Atlanta again in the near future.
I do love the Italian flag pattern stripe on it. The body was in good condition with just a small amount of rust bubbling on the door and some surface rust on the wheelwells. It is pretty clean for a nonfunctional prop.
Of course the paint had seen better days. The Georgia sun takes its toll on cars. Shame, since the exterior was probably in excellent condition when it was placed here. The nearby tall buildings likely shaded it from the sun's harsh rays somewhat which is why some of the paint is still in presentable condition.
The plastic taillight lenses and metal seem to have survived better here in the shade against the building. Even that window seal doesn't look too bad.
Despite the engine bay being open to the general public for a number of years, no Fiat aficionado has come by and yanked off any parts. It's perhaps a little worse for sitting for a long time but I bet the oily bits would clean up nicely.
The “Nueva 500" badging should mean this Fiat is one of the first series of this style of 500 made from 1957-1961, but the conventionally hinged doors seem inconsistent with that fact. Perhaps it got the doors from a later run model at some point. Perhaps it has the trunk lid from an earlier model. The interior indicates the latter as more likely.
The interior is shockingly not overly decayed from many many years of exposure to the sun and general neglect. A little cleanup and I'd totally sit in that! In fact, the doors weren't locked so I'm sure someone has in the recent past. Surprisingly, even the canvas sunroof seemed in rather good nick, preserving the inside and keeping out the wet.
The inside of the car is every bit as classic as the exterior. The large thin steering wheel and elegantly simplistic dash layout is perfect for cruising windy Italian roads in comfort. The horizontal speedometer is a bit less classic than the earlier circular gauge layout, but I don’t mind. My best guess is that this is a 1965-1973 500 F based on the updated but still basic interior. The Lusso trim got the unimageable luxury of door pockets!
Even though this may be the smallest car I’ve ever really got a good look at, I expect I could still fit quite comfortably albeit snugly in the cabin. Shifting might be hard with a tall passenger though; knees and arms want to rest exactly where the spindly little shift lever sits.
I can’t say the same of the backseat. That can’t be comfortable if you are over 5" tall.
The lines on this classic runabout are so iconic that even people who have no idea what it is instantly conjure up images of beautiful sunny Italian countryside and pleasant winding roads to enjoy with the cloth sunroof retracted. Truly a work of art.
Though I am obviously glad I got to see this poor old 500, that’s not how you treat a senior citizen who has earned its keep. It had so much to give the world!
Poor, poor Fiat. It was always too good for us and how do we repay it? Shoving it in a filthy corner and letting the sun bake it to a fine crisp. While it no doubt draws in business for the restaurant, it would spread joy to the world much more effectively under its own power.
So, what say you? Is it a good thing that this classic Fiat is on static display where anyone can see it? Or does it belong back on the road?
A version of this article originally appeared on the now deceased Kinja Oppo but was reworked for DT (archived version) and cross posted to Oppo's new home on The Hyphen for posterity.