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Fiat 500 Sport – Click above for high-res image gallery

Conventional wisdom tells us that Fiat has a daunting task ahead of it: convincing 200 cash-strapped dealers (Chrysler stores get first dibs) to spend millions of dollars on dedicated Fiat dealerships. With precisely one product ready for sale in the next year or two. In a down economy with tight credit. It looks like conventional wisdom doesn't apply, though, as Fiat is now in the process of naming 165 of the 200 new dedicated dealerships, with the remaining stores being awarded early next year. Fiat has reportedly been selective about which U.S. markets that will be considered for a franchise, with 119 areas targeted.

While dealers are lining up to become one of the 200 Fiat dealers, the auto-hocking entrepreneurs have come up with very different proposals for their stand-alone operations. Automotive News reports that dealers have offered up existing used car lots, abandoned retail outlets and the conversion of shuttered dealerships.

Right now Chrysler is working with dealers to refine their pitches, which includes plans for facilities, marketing, sales and service. The first samples of the Fiat 500 will arrive in dealerships this September, though the official marketing launch doesn't happen until March, when dealers have stand-alone stores in place. Ultimately, the company is planning to sell 50,000 copies of the A-segment hatch, or about 250 units per store.


  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
  • 2011 Fiat 500 Sport

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req.]


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  • 33 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I love this little fiat 500. I can't wait to drive the abarth version with a dual clutch transmission. I bet its a fun little car hopefully that will be priced well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd love to have one for a 2nd car.
      But....
      It's to bad that our Canadian over sized car seats won't fit in them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm thinking this car would be perfect for cities like Philadelphia, which are rather easy to drive in but have weird parking rules.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In addition to the daunting task of convincing the dealerships they have an even larger task in convincing the public to buy FIAT.

      I remember in the 70's when FIAT's were basically bio-degradable as they would rust to powder in front of your eyes; also they were anything but the poster child of reliability

      I still remember the acronyms that the car had:

      FIAT > Fix It Again Tony

      FIAT > Fix It All the Time

      FIAT > Failure in Italian Automotive Technology

      FIAT > Feeble Italian Attempt at Transportation


      My dollars are going to stay with German or Japanese cars or the odd US iron...I remember when they 'tried' over here





      .
        • 4 Years Ago
        You said it yourself: 'I remember in the 70's'

        That was 40 years ago, quickly approaching the half century mark. Are you telling me you *don't* remember the issues other car companies had? Cars of domestic origin rotting on the showroom floor or warped heads? German cars? Ha, I shared my BMW with my mechanic, he loved having a second car. Japanese cars of the same era were no different, totally frail and prone to inopportune failure.

        Your contention is strictly an American held one, centered on a moment in time with bad music and wardrobes, one not held by other regions of the world were Fiats sell in huge numbers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Got so excited about my argument, I forgot to end it properly. :)

        What I was going to add, was that in recent times, these 2 categories I mentioned tend to blend. Cheap cars are getting better and better, and more expensive cars.... Well, let's just say I remember Mercedes with fewer niggling issues. (When I came across my first M-class, I couldn't stow the cupholder - it kept coming back down. To me, it was a sign.)

        OTOH, in the words of Montgomery Scott, "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dude, it's 2010, your hackneyed stereotypes don't apply. Guess what? American cars aren't grotesque neo-barroque, ill handling, grossly inefficient thrown together cars anymore, British cars have reliable electrics and don't leak oil, and Fiats don't rust at the mere mention of the word.

        Well built, well engineered and durable do not equate reliable. I have two cousins that are BMW master mechanics in Florida and neither owns or would own a BMW because they work on them and know what an expensive nightmare they are when something breaks, which is often, and not under warranty. German manufacturers are masters at convincing the world their cars are the best and infallible, mostly through clever marketing and (usually) good customer service. German car fanboys will howl in protest, but ask any independent mechanic about modern German cars and they'll tell you some horror stories. They're good cars and drive well, but not faultless by a mile.

        My parents owned Fiats in the US in the 70's and 80's, and with proper maintenance and regular thrashings, they were quite dependable. I have family in europe that owns the new 500 and none of them has had any major problem.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Shiftright - I think you're having a pot/kettle/black moment w.r.t. hackneyed stereotypes. Your argument starts off strong, and swiftly goes off the rails as you describe just such a stereotype about German cars.

        I come from a family which owned a MBZ repair shop, so I've seen my share of stories, miraculous and horrific. I've also seen my share of customers, the diligent and the careless. And they seem to match up. Imagine the "eureka" moment when a customer who never takes care of their car beyond oil changes (if we're lucky) suddenly faces some repairs to bring the car back to order...and then they complain about it. Well, sir, you've basically been neglecting that 300SD for about 15 years now.... But you can't say that, of course.

        1) Many people compare the ills of a 20-year-old German car with a domestic that still has its new car smell. Not fair.
        2) Cars built to more exacting tolerances need more work to stay within those narrow tolerances. I mean, if you have a widget that needs to stay within 98-102 units of whatever to work right, and another that is OK between 80-120 units, guess which one needs more attention?
        3) Traditionally, there'd been 2 major types of vehicles for regular consumption: one that required less maintenance, but that was basically disposable after 100K miles, and one that required more TLC, but could get you through half a million miles. People bought the latter so they could have something "special," and compared it with all their friends who bought the former. Doesn't work that way.

        I'm on my 5th German car. I can't say any of them have required care above and beyond what was normal.

        Now, back to your otherwise well-worded warning against rampant stereotyping!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Today's Fiats are among the most reliable cars you can buy.

        I know many people who own fiat 500s and none of them ever reported a problem not even a squeecky door handle.

        I know it's very tempting to display you're idiocy on the internet, but try to stop yourself next time.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "I remember in the 70's when FIAT's were basically bio-degradable as they would rust to powder in front of your eyes"

        Don't we all. But you also had to rustproof almost any car under the sills and bumpers in those days. Oddly enough, Fiat use the same standards as anyone else does these days; in recent years they've developed transmissions used by Ford, diesels used by GM and shared platforms with both companies.

        Having owned several Fiats from the 80's and 90's, I'd have no hesitation buying a 500 - it's one of the best products in the entire A-segment.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think this is making a big deal of nothing.
      They will have a wide range of dealership implementation, from some places with a sign out front and some posters inside - to full blown conversion of an existing structure.
      And really, in all practicality, converting a dealership from one brand to another can be done fairly cheaply, internally lit sign out front, colors inside, graphics, reception (if any). In my experience dealership build outs are not that involved unless you are Audi or BMW or Merc.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Business is all about assuming risk, but anyone who opts to open a stand alone Fiat store is really rolling the dice. Even Mini stores are tied to BMW dealerships. It is going to take years of hi intensity marketing to change the Fiat preception in this country. Combine that with having only one model to sell sounds like a sure fire looser to me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agree with your point about young people not knowing much about Fiats history. However, they do read the quality rating stats and that will be a problem. I have no axe to grind with Fiat. Owned a pristine X1/9 for 20 years with no problems and loved it. Finally, the car may very well be for me - currently own a Mini.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I want my Abarth 500!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here's what I found lacking in this article: a list of the dealerships granted so far.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope they bring over the Abarth SS. That's the one i'll buy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I know it isn't popular to say, but I'm going to say it anyway.

      Pbbbttffh on the Fiat 500. I wants my Fiat Panda Cross.

      Yes, I know it's ugly, and doesn't look as sharp or sophisticated as the 500, but dammit, brake locking differentials in an economy car are super cool. There's nothing wrong with an ugly car if it has real utility and capability.

      Here's to hoping the Panda Cross makes it over soon after the 500s arrive.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "While dealers are lining up to become one of the 200 Fiat dealers, the auto-hocking entrepreneurs have come up with very different proposals for their stand-alone operations. Automotive News reports that dealers have offered up existing used car lots, abandoned retail outlets and the conversion of shuttered dealerships."

      Good luck, boys. And remember to keep those fixed costs down ...
      • 4 Years Ago
      fiat's reliability cant be any worse than others, just look at toyota! actually toyota just had some more recalls, brakes and something else i cant remember off the top of my head! every auto maker short of bentley and rolls will have issues and just because there have been some issues doesnt mean the whole auto maker is bad! everyone gripes about chrysler and yes there have been some recalls, but not on everything! to me, it seems as if the 300 has had very few recalls, hell, id love to have one, but if i did get on, i would not do less cylinders than i currently have with my 85 grand marquis..must be the v8! id also keep the old mercury because sometimes you just need more trunkspace-something the 300 doent have enough of ( 17.2 cubic feet vs my grand marquis' 22.4)
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