Fiat 500 Forever Young: after Turin and London the Fiat 500 journey through time comes to Paris
The third episode of the web series dedicated to the Fiat icon that celebrates 60 years of history and record-breaking success this year is now available on www.500foreveryoung.fiatpress.com.
The virtual tour comes to cosmopolitan late seventies/early eighties Paris, with a lavish archive of period photographs, film and documents.
This fascinating multimedia journey is part of a wider communication plan celebrating the long history that has made the 500 a global icon with nearly six million units sold.
After Dante Giacosa's office in Turin and Piccadilly Circus in London, the irresistible "500 Forever Young" media journey now comes to cosmopolitan, elegant Paris, choosing the late seventies/early eighties, a time when the French capital was rejuvenated in the wake of the 1968 student revolution. Although young people were no longer marching along the streets demanding more freedom, another revolution, just as epoch-making in its effects, was silently gaining ground in Europe's cities: the "small" revolution.
For technology, the challenge was to reduce sizes and make everything portable, personal and always at hand. The great little things in our daily routine are the small objects we encounter every day. Never banal, always essential, they are part of our lives, day in, day out, and shape them much more than major events ever could. Just like the great little Fiat 500, which in sixty years of history has proved to the world that a compact car can become a timeless icon. Some of the objects that derive from the creativity of Italian industry, such as the 500 or the Vespa, cannot be judged merely by their appearance, nor are they only excellent pieces of engineering in which form serves function. They are examples of a powerful alchemy of revolutionary design and concept that rewrites the rules of the game. When this occurs, masterpieces of industrial history are born. And the Fiat 500 is one of them.
Expressing this, the web series marking the 60th anniversary of the Fiat 500 continues, celebrating an icon that maintains its identity while always remaining up to date, and forming part of a wider communications plan, on the web, radio and TV. It will feature a large number of initiatives including an exciting tour of Europe's loveliest squares, involving fans and collectors of Fiat 500 models from the past and present. The "500 Forever Young Tour" started from Italy last month and now comes to France with special events that combine the product, history, the arts and lifestyle.
The same excitement can be experienced through the "500 Forever Young" virtual tour, now at its third stage, which is late seventies/early eighties Paris, when the "great little car" became more and more popular with the public, even though it was no longer being built. Perhaps thanks to its appealing, rounded shape, which won immediate approval, or the cheeky look which attracted delighted grins from people who had to face the city traffic every day, the Fiat 500 gained a special place in the hearts of the French, who awarded it chic status. Its many buyers included large numbers of women, who liked its convenience and its casual yet stylish personality, and young people. The flat of a young man living in Paris in those specific years is the web series' third location.
The "500 Forever Young" home page contains a reproduction of a flat in the XVI arrondissement, decorated with period items and furniture. Each of them is a hotspot giving access to texts, photographs and video materials which convey the "buzz" of those years and recount their many technological breakthroughs that changed our lives. Some of these symbolic objects are placed on the flat's coffee table. From a Walkman with headphones to a portable Nintendo Gameboy console, from a Swatch to Persol glasses and the key ring of a 500. Each of them conveys the vibrant spirit of the age, and although small in size it represents a substantial innovation. Just like the 500, a Pop icon that has never gone out of fashion over the decades, but has continued to delight all lovers of beauty and originality. But that's not all. The great little car expresses the genuine Fiat tradition of bringing a greater degree of democracy to access content and technologies never previously available in the utility car segment: the 500 has always been the people's car.
Of course, the colour TVs which gradually became more and more compact and appeared in rooms apart from the usual living-room during the eighties were the stuff of dreams. They popped up in kitchens, where mums kept up with Dallas or Dynasty, or in kids' bedrooms, their young owners glued to the screen, watching Happy Days or videoclips of the top bands of the time, such as Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. Clicking on the TV shown on the site, with the ever-present video-recorder underneath, gives access to several period videos from the Fiat Historic Archive. And near the TV there are three more objects that confirm the centrality of small things to our lives: a book of the adventures of the ancient Gallic warrior Asterix, a Bic ballpoint pen, the world's first and most widely used "disposable" object, and the Olivetti ET-101 typewriter, with a small display above the keyboard to allow texts to be corrected before printing. The little 500 is also amazing because it refuses to be merely a "means of transport" and establishes itself as a "genuine emotional experience".
In other words, the 500 is a special object, inextricably linked with friendships, adventurous journeys and first loves. It is fitting that our Paris apartment features two period posters: one of the French national soccer team, which won the European title in 1984, and the other a 1981 film poster showing the very young Sophie Marceau. Some years later, the same actress played Ariane in the 2008 comedy Changing Sides, ably supported by her distinctive pink 500. Naturally, the 2008 500 Pink was one of the countless versions of the heir to the original 500, which has dozens of customisations and special series. While always very much itself, over the years the 500 has acquired many different looks: this is another secret of its eternal youth. The fame of sporting icons Italian Enzo Maiorca and Frenchman Jacques Mayol, whose rivalry gave Luc Besson the inspiration for his 1988 film The Big Blue, is also proving to be eternal. A 500 of the time featured in the film, the perfect expression of the protagonist's Italian identity.
To conclude, the "500 Forever Young" Paris apartment is completed by two windows, one with a view of the magnificent Eiffel Tour, which has watched over the romantic French capital since 1889, and the other showing the pyramid of the Louvre, the world's most famous museum, which was updated with the addition of this exotic work by architect Ieoh Ming Pei in the eighties. After all, it takes a strong personality and unassailable fame to face a change in identity without fear. The Louvre emerged unscathed from the addition of its gigantic outdoor pyramid, and in 2008 the new 500 successfully established itself as heir to the status of its forerunner, a global icon of Italian design that has successfully reinvented itself for sixty years, while keeping its values intact over time.
This concludes the third episode of the "500 Forever Young" web series, marking another stage in the great little Fiat's journey from 1957 to the present day, and celebrating a car that has influenced fashions, society and lifestyles, becoming a genuine global icon with about six million cars sold to date. And the tour through history continues next month with a new location, recounting a fresh historic period in which the model played a starring role.