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Homepage. This page: An original photo of a family sat enjoying a picnic, alongside a classic Fiat mpv of the '50s.

Fiat 600 Multipla.

This old photograph turned up a little while ago, and is the first period photo I've found to feature the classic, original, Fiat Multipla. The Multipla is shown alongside a family who are sat at a camping table, tucking into a bite to eat. No other car is in view, so perhaps all five people - ie the four sat at the table plus the photographer - crammed into the tiny Fiat for a run out into the countryside. It must have been quite a cosy ride for all concerned, but fun nonetheless. The style of numberplate suggests a car used in West Germany.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
The original Fiat Multipla of 1956 on.
In 1955 Fiat introduced the diminutive 600, a cheap-to-build runabout powered by a rear-mounted 633cc four-cylinder engine. This provided the basis of the larger Fiat 600 Multipla of 1956. The Multipla took the basic elements of the 600, and packaged them into a vehicle that offered a great deal of flexibility to its purchaser. The seating could be arranged in a number of ways, and three different versions were offered:
  • 4/5 seater, bench seats fore and aft that could be folded down into a double bed.
  • 6 seater, bench seat up front, four individual folding seats to the rear.
  • Taxi, one seat plus luggage area in the front, separate folding seats in the centre, a bench seat in the rear, including a division.
So the multi-purpose vehicle, or MPV, is nothing new. At the weekend the 4/5 seater could propel adventurous Italians into the country, while during the week make deliveries to local businesses, all thanks to its ingenious seating arrangements.
Despite being rear-engined just like the 600, the 11ft 7in long Multipla featured a small radiator mounted in the front - the grille for which can clearly be seen in the above photograph. Other modifications, including a larger fuel tank, revised suspension, and altered steering, also differentiated the Multipla's technical layout from the 600. In 1960 the Multipla received the larger (767cc) engine of the 600D, but other than this minor revision the design continued in production until 1966. Less than 100 found their way to UK shores, the hefty price after the conversion from LHD to RHD had been take into account, pricing it out of its natural market and headlong into a sector dominated by established, mid-sized British saloons.
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