Founded by Giovanni Agnelli, and renowned for artistic talent and creative engineering, Fiat is currently the largest automobile manufacturer in Italy. The very first Fiat automobile was the 4HP, produced in 1899 (named after the amount of Horse Power the engine produced), and only 24 copies were ever built. During World War One, all Fiat factories were dedicated to supplying the Allied Powers (France, Britain and Russia) with aircraft, engines and equipment, but they recouped losses in post-war markets with new tractor and truck designs.
In 1921, supporters of the Italian Socialist Party occupied Fiat’s plants and factories, but left peacefully in efforts to court populist support. After this upset, Fiat were eager to make up for lost time, and opened the Lingotto car factory – then the largest in Europe – with new assembly line techniques to produce Fiat tyres, engines and body parts.
During World War Two, Fiat produced military equipment and vehicles for the German National Socialist and Italian Fascist parties like the Fiat CR.42 which was quickly outclassed by other planes like the iconic British Spitfire. After the war, the descendants of the founder – Agnelli – were forced to quit the company because of ties to Benito Mussolini’s regime. In post-war Italy, Fiat were able to capitalise on the need for economical civilian vehicles and have since gained renown for their range of affordable compact cars, which are frequently praised for their practicality. By focussing on production and efficiency in the production of Fiat tyres, parts and vehicles, they have been able to court high sales and positive reviews. Notably, they have been awarded European Car of the Year 9 times: more than any other manufacturer!
Like all Italians, Fiats need to be prepared for hard left or right swerves and dramatic U-turns. You can switch brands of Fiat tyres easily – go from Axis to Allied and back again – but these are nimble motors that benefit from the superior grip of asymmetric tyres.