There's a new Italian master in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Rather than a Michelangelo or Raphael, this one comes from the pen of Dante Giacosa, and it's a 1968 Fiat 500F Berlina.
The 500 was the mid-century people's car of Italy, and Fiat built over 4 million of them from 1957 to 1975. Giacosa's rear-engine design maximized cabin space in a compact vehicle. Plus, the fabric roof moved out of the way for open-air motoring but also reduced the amount of steel necessary for the 500's construction. "The development of inexpensive, reliable cars like the Fiat 500 was instrumental in knitting together communities and nations and fostering a feeling of freedom of movement throughout the postwar European continent," MoMA's announcement explained about the museum's choice of this model.
The addition to MoMA's collection comes at a perfect moment in the 500's history because it arrives 60 years after the model's original debut in 1957. The museum purchased a gorgeous 1968 500F. This was the most popular variant of the 500, and production ran from 1965 to 1972.
"Adding this unpretentious masterpiece to our collection will allow us to broaden the story of automotive design as told by the Museum," Martino Stierli, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA, said.
Giacosa started working at Fiat in 1927, and his resumé also included the original 500 Topolino that arrived in 1936 that filled a similar role for the company as the later model.
The Fiat joins some gorgeous automotive creations in MoMA's permanent collection. The museum also owns a 1946 Cisitalia 202 GT, 1952 Jeep M38A1, 1959 Volkswagen Type 1, 1961 Jaguar E-Type Roadster, 1965 Porsche 911, 1990 Ferrari 641 Formula One car, and a 1998 Smart ForTwo.