Fiat 500 Abarth - click above image for high-res gallery

For the last couple of decades, there has been a genuine dearth of affordable Italians autos for us Americans. Sure, you could buy a lightly used Alfa Romeo Milano or a derelict Fiat Strada, but then you'd be a braver person than us. Or maybe you could get your hands on a severely fire-damaged Ferrari 308, but that's a entirely different level of sadomasochism. One that we're not comfortable with. But in reality, the cheapest piece of Italian four-wheeled machinery available to us Yanks has come with a trident badge. In other words, a $100,000 Maserati.

But hey, there's some good news for working class Italophiles -- the Fiat 500 is coming! Finally, Italian design and craftsmanship in an affordable package. Only thing is, the Cinquecento is going to be Italian design and Mexican craftsmanship. Er, make that Italian design and Mexican/American craftsmanship. According to an Associated Press report, Chrysler Group LLC is planning on building U.S.-bound 500s at their Toluca, Mexico assembly plant where they build the PT Cruiser. Not only that, but the engines that power the little-bitty Fiats might be built in Trenton, Michigan. Hmmm. Not really so Italian after all, is it?

Chrysler is reportedly also planning on building another very small car along with the 500. No official word on any of the other Fiat or Alfa Romeo products that might be heading our way – yet.

[Source: Detroit News]

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