Fiat 500

When the Fiat 500 launched here in the U.S., we didn't expect Texas to be one of the vehicle's largest markets. But according to Ward's Auto, that's exactly the case. Fiat boasts a total of 10 franchises in the land of cowboy boots and ten gallon hats – a figure that's only bested by the likes of California and tied with New York and Florida. The Italian automaker's North American boss, Laura Soave, says that a host of green and tech-industry workers, sprawling suburban living and the fourth-largest metropolitan center in the country in Houston, Texas is the perfect place for the 500.

Even more surprising is word that most Fiat dealers are ordering up the 500 with an impressive manual transmission take rate. In a country where most drivers believe their left foot is only good for mounting and dismounting their Hoveround, a full 70 percent of 500 dealer orders have been placed for manual transmission models – a figure that has surprised Fiat execs. Is there hope for the row-your-own way of life, or are these suckers destined to languish on dealer lots? Let's hope for the former.