Founded in Turin by Govanni Agnelli in 1899, the Italian Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) company grew to become Europe's leading automobile manufacturer. For much of its existence the company has been involved with the volume production of cars, commencing with the Tipo Zero of 1912, and was heavily influenced by Fordist approaches to mass production. The First World War increased demand for the company's products and in 1919 the company began work on a new factory at Lingotto designed by Giovanni Matteo‐Trucco with its almost Futurist test track on the roof. Although luxury and racing cars were a significant feature of Fiat's profile in its earlier years the company increasingly sought to cater for a larger market sector. Designs such as the 508 Balilla saloon of 1932 and the affordable, small Fiat 500 of 1936, popularly known as the Topolino (Mickey Mouse), designed by the engineer Dante Giacosa, reflected such an outlook. It also hired stylists such as Bertone and Pininfarina to work on designs such as the streamlined Fiat 1500 of 1935 and established a new factory at Mirafiore in 1939 to cope with increased demand for the company's products. After the Second World War the company's rapid growth was an integral part of Italy's ‘Economic Miracle’, accompanied by a number of innovative small cars for the urban environment, the rear‐engined Fiat 600 of 1955 and the Nuova 500 of 1957 designed by Giacosa. This tradition of compact cars has been a constant thread of Fiat's production, other notable stylish yet practical designs being the 1980 Panda, the 1983 Uno, and the 1993 Punto designed by Giorgietto Giugaro, who had first worked for Fiat at the company's Centro Stile, established in the mid‐1950s with Felice Mario Boano and his son Gian Paolo. Throughout its history of growth and development the company made many acquisitions, including Lancia and Ferrari in 1969 and Alfa Romeo in 1987.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.