News: There's Now A Fiat 500 On Display At The Museum of Modern Art In New York

There’s Now A Fiat 500 On Display At The Museum of Modern Art In New York

By News Desk
February 11, 2019

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York is now showing this Fiat 500 F in the “The Value of Good Design” exhibition, which will run until June 15, 2019, and tells the story of industrial design through the works of the MoMA collection. The museum acquired the car in 2017 and announced the exhibition in 2018, but this is the first time it’s been seen by the public. The 500 on display is a Series F, arguably the best-known version, which was built from 1965 to 1972; with the other versions (Sport, D, L, R), more than 4 million of the “Nuova” 500s were built from 1957 to 1975. With its clever design and rear-engined layout it could comfortably seat four adults within its tiny bodywork, and it included plenty of clever touches, such as the folding fabric sunroof, which was perceived as a luxury touch but actually minimized the use of then-expensive steel.

It was designed by engineer Dante Giacosa, who joined Fiat in 1927 and stayed until 1970, responsible for many of the company’s most important designs. He designed the original 500 “Topolino” as well as the 500 “Nuova”, which was conceived as an affordable car for post-war Europe, working to the concept that high-quality design should be accessible to all. The Value of Good Design exhibition celebrates this, exploring the democratizing potential of design. It begins with MoMA’s Good Design initiatives from the late 1930s through the 1950s, which championed well-designed, affordable contemporary products. It questions what Good Design might mean today, and whether values from mid-century can be translated and redefined for the 21st century.

Images courtesy of Fiat

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Holley AckersonTony EdgecombeHarv FalkenstineChad C. Recent comment authors
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Holley Ackerson
Holley Ackerson

I think it’s great that they modernized this little gem, but stayed pretty true to its original style. I own a newer 500 convertible & it’s such a great little car, and so much fun to drive!

Tony Edgecombe

I owned a couple of them in the early eighties, they were dirt cheap in the UK because Fiat had such a poor reputation. The two memories that stick out were that I didn’t need the seat back as far as it would go despite being 6′ 3″ and that it would warm up instantly in the winter thanks to the heat exchanger. The engine failed on one of them, I was at a friends workshop and he mentioned he had a spare buried around the back of his workshop. It really was buried, I had to dig it up.… Read more »

Harv Falkenstine
Harv Falkenstine

… “working to the concept that high-quality design should be accessible to all”. Cars that have been the top sellers have always adopted that philosophy and created market niches: The Model T, the VW Beetle, the Honda Accord, the Jeep Wrangler, and the Mazda Miata quickly come to mind. It doesn’t hurt when a transportation device also makes you smile!

Chad C.
Chad C.

It’s well-placed in such an exhibit. I’ve read that the Fiat 500 sold so well as to spell the demise of some Italian motorcycle manufactures. It makes sense that affordable good design in a post-war period might do that.

Just looking at one of these makes me happy.