Fiat 500: Adorable City Car or Italian Death Machine?

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A close up shows a wide-eyed man laying on a pillow and a black used Fiat 500 perched on his head.

Dear reader, if you know anything, then you know this: I’m the only one out here, working hard every single day, who will tell you the truth. Everything else is lies, propaganda, and advertising; only I have your interests at heart and want to ensure you can keep living your best life and being your authentic self. So when I see you out there, at your favorite car dealership, looking at a used Fiat 500 and thinking about driving it home, I start to panic.

A cold sweat grips me, sheathing me in icy dread that clings and follows me home. Only now, as I issue this dire warning, does it begin to loosen its grip and leave me to eat this large plate of nachos next to my old typewriter. They’re delicious, and their melty bliss reminds me of the viscous, velvety truth that I need to pour down upon you.

That truth: that the Fiat 500 is a machine designed to kill you!

Cruel Origins

A Fiat prototype is shown parked outside the Fiat headquarters.

Development on the latest version of the Fiat 500, which is what you’ll typically find on the used market at your local dealership, began in the late 1990s. It all started with a man named Giuseppe Von Bliztenberger, whose mysterious origins are as mysterious as his mysterious hairstyle and mysterious mustache. It’s all quite… enigmatic.

No interviews with the murderous Mr. Von Blitzenberger remain, but I’ve seen several sketches for his first ideas for the Fiat 500. It was essentially a cube on wheels with the entire interior filled with spikes, all pointing inward toward the driver and passenger. These concepts were rejected by Fiat management, though the final product is – to be honest – not far from them.

How Everything Went Wrong

My understanding is that Giuseppe Von Bliztenberger had a singular vision for the new Fiat 500 (new in the 2010s, we’re talking about what you’ll find used these days). His vision was to create a vehicle designed to do as much harm to the driver as possible, particularly if an impact should occur. He had wanted it to harm the driver on a constant basis, but this plan was quickly dismissed when he realized that people wouldn’t drive it. Subtlety was required, so he made something that looked, at first glance, like some kind of cute city car, but that was clearly designed to offer no protection for anyone inside or outside of the vehicle.

Safety Tests Say it All

There are seven airbags inside the Fiat 500, each of them filled with shards of broken glass and asbestos powder. Europeans, who wouldn’t know a safe car if it jumped the curb and ran them over on the sidewalk, gave it a 5-star safety rating for adult occupants – and yet it received only a 3-star rating for children occupants and a 2-star rating for pedestrians. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was named the “Worst Car for Passenger Injuries” by an insurance group in the US that analyzed rates of personal injuries and medical payments after an incident.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave it a “Poor” rating for crash testing involving “small overlap frontal offset.” These are tests where only a small part of the front corner strikes an object. So if you’re going to hit something, go for a full-on crash with the entire front-end of your Fiat 500.

What Can You Do?

The simplest way to deal with these safety issues is to NEVER BUY A USED FIAT 500! I typed that in all caps so you’d pay attention to it; good, right? It was built by an Italian madman as his revenge against a cruel, uncaring world. So if you drive a Fiat, you’re going to die.

Editor’s Note: Upon receiving this article, we were going to contact Fiat to see if they had a statement to provide about the safety of a used Fiat 500 model. Unfortunately, it was about 11:30 am when this was submitted, and all this talk about Italians made us really hungry. So instead, we went next door to Mama Fratelli’s Ristorante for their all-you-can-eat meatball buffet and sent this to publishing unread. The breadsticks were amazing. Thank you.

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