Click above for a high-res gallery of the Fiat 500

If some hot new rumors are correct, this week's Chrysler-Fiat tie-up could start to bear some very shiny and round fruit surprisingly soon. According to Motor Trend editor Todd Lassa, Fiat's cuddly 500 is being discussed for possible fast-tracking for American showrooms "in well under 18 months." Interestingly, 2010 is the target US launch date that has been floating around for some time now, but now thanks to the Chrysler-Fiat arrangement, there now seems to be an obvious distribution conduit.

According to MT's source, the retro-minded bubble bauble would arrive in Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep showrooms powered by a 100-horsepower four-cylinder engine and sporting a new front fascia disguising a reconfigured bumper strike beam. Interestingly, Lassa says that the car may be sold only in the U.S. and not Canada because the latter has slightly different impact standards that could be tougher to meet. America's northerly neighbors evidently require that front turn-signal lenses be able to withstand a five mile-per-hour impact without cracking (many such lights are used as government-mandated daytime running lamps) and a modified 500 may still not be able to meet this standard.
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[Source: Motor Trend]