Sixty years ago, Fiat 600

bozzetto Fiat 600

At the Geneva Motor Show Fiat presented the “600”, it was the 1955.

Let’s skip for now the technical details about the car and try to observe the world of the 1955, far sixty years from now and which seems a geologic era.

It was the year in which were born Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Kevin Costner, Ornella Muti, Michel Platini, Alain Prost, Susanna Camusso, Enrico Mentana, Pierferdinando Casini, Walter Veltroni, Zucchero Fornaciari!

Everyone is still alive, except for Steve Jobs, still famous and with something to say.

While these and others sixty-year-old people were living their newborn ages and were learning to walk, at the International Exhibition of Technology in Milan it was introduced, for the first time, a telephone to be installed inside the car.
The Sony launched on the market the first pocket radio, General Motors became the first American Company to invoice more than 1 billion dollars.

And Italy?

After the hard postwar period, It started a phase of economic growth, but there was no infrastructure, means of transport, raw materials.

Railways in poor conditions, not many and devastated roads (the motorways plan will be introduced only in the 1956) heavy vehicles were few and almost all remnants of war, the merchant marine was canceled (-80% of the tonnage) with a freight traffic almost inexistent.

Italy was still a Country of emigrants which survived also thanks to handouts from half of the world.

More than 250,000 Italians moved to France between 1947 and 1954; with Belgium was underway for some time the agreement for the emigration of Italians for the mines (agreement that provided the transfer of coal to Italy based on the number of emigrants) which had brought in Belgium over 80,000 Italians.

Fiat 600 in esposizione
In 1955 it was signed the government agreement with Germany for the emigration to the Federal Republic of Germany, and that was also the year in which the first subway in Rome was inaugurated and in which the economy started to grow significantly.

As historians said, in 1955 ended the phase of the post-war reconstruction and the years of the economic miracle were outlined (1956-1964).

An economic miracle which led to a significant GDP growth, a monetary stability and a substantial equilibrium in the payments balance.

The economic miracle came out from the availability of manpower, thanks to a strong internal immigration as well, appropriate salaries and the development of metallurgical, mechanic and chemical sectors.
New desires appeared which led to considerable changes in behavior and consumption.

Electric household appliances were the most obvious example: in a few years Italy became the third country in the world for the presence of refrigerators after the USA and Japan.

Produzione Fiat 600
The desire for mobility was great and the car became an important part of this change: in just over two years, from 1954 to 1957, the percentage of cars per capita in Italy went from 1:17 to 1:39.

In this background there is the success of the Fiat 600, that will go down in history as one of the icon of the economic miracle… but of this you’ll read in the next post.

Translated by Federica Izzo

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