An article looking at the history of the Fiat Panda and how the car has developed over the past 30 years.
First rolled off the production line in 1980, the Fiat Panda has kept its unique hatchback shape from those early days even if the designs have seen a smoother-edged body emerge during the last decade.
The original concept behind the Fiat Panda was to create a ‘no-frills’ car which was affordable for motorists who would normally be unable to buy a motor vehicle. It was the affordability combined with the practicality of the car which saw it pick up the European Car of the Year award in 1981. The car’s success meant that the Mark One version stayed until 2003 when Fiat unveiled the second generation of the model which will be gradually phased out for the newer third generation.
The Panda benefited from several face lifts which were undertaken during the latter part of the 1980s and the early 1990s although its three door hatchback look remained in tact. Fiat’s Pandas were initially released with two cylinder air-cooling engines or four cylinder water-cooled engines fitted, however both were replaced during the late 1980s for more powerful engines.
From 1991 until the second generation of Pandas were launched in 2003, the Fiat Panda underwent further face lifts. A five speed transmission was fitted into all cars as standard and an electronic fuel injection complete with a three-way catalytic converter supported Fiat’s need breed of Fully Integrated Robotised Engines.
Nicknamed the New Panda, the second generation was produced to succeed the Fiat Seicento and was heavily influenced by the designs for the mini-MPVs and mini-SUVs. So successfully integrated was the new car design that the Fiat Panda won its second European Car of the Year award in 2004. The car’s second generation model has produced over two million vehicles from its production lines around the world and has also rolled out several limited edition models of the Panda.
The third generation Panda was showcased at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011 and will be built close to Naples with the design styled on the Fiat Mini. Fiat had to clarify that all models which are rolled off the production line in 2012 will feature electronic stability control, after the car dropped a star on the Euro NCAP safety tests – receiving only four out of five stars overall – because that model used had no ESC.