Fiat Cars: The Story
On July 11, 1899 the Fiat company was officially started. The name comes from Fabbrica Italiano Automobili Torino. Giovanni Agnelli was one of the original investors. He moved up to managing director in 1902. He had great vision for the company.
The first factory was in Corso Dante. It opened in 1900. With only 150 workers they could produce 24 cars a year. One of them was the 3/12 HP. In 1904 Biscaretti designed an oval logo with a blue background. Nine Fiat cars crossed the finish line at the first Car Tour of Italy. Fiat’s first official car for competition won in an uphill race in 1902 called the Sassi Superga. Giovanni Agnelli wanted to race. He set a record while running in the second Tour of Italy. It was 1908 that Fiat came to the United States. They were now making marine engines, trams, trucks, and commercial vehicles. Fiat ended up gettting a patent on the cardan transmission. Electric accumulators were being fitted on their cars.
The Lingotto factory was completed in 1922. It was the largest factory in Europe. It had a test track on the roof. Fiat started working in the steel industry as well as the railway. They even went into electricity and public transportation. Fiat’s first subsidiary was opened in Russia as Fiat Lubrificanti. When the war started Fiat focussed on supplying the army with what it needed. Like many companies they faced crisis and changes after the war ended, but their growth continued by 1923. Giovanni Agnelli bacame the CEO and put into effect some cost cutting plans. They came out with a number of new cars including a car with 4 seats, the 509. Fiat took advantage of mass production in order to keep their pricess down. This along with setting up payment plans for customers proved a success. Fiat also took care of their employees by getting them health care as well as specialized schools and perks like sports clubs.
In the 1930’s technology in cars advanced. Fiat had to focus on domestic markets during Mussolini’s autarchic policy. The Balilla and Topolino came out in 1934 and 1936. The Topolina was a very small car and remained in production untill 1955. During the war car sales decreased. Fiat balanced this with an increase in commercial vehicles. In 1945 Giovanni Agnelli passed away. Vittorio Valletta took over. By 1948 Fiat had rebuilt its plants destroyed by the war. Sales increased. New cars showed Fiats innovative ideas. They continued to produce cars and increase their business. The grandson of the founder took over in1966. By 1978 a robot system was being used to assemble body work called Robogate. Fiat Auto S.p.A. was set up in 1979 to include Fiat, Autobianchi, Lancia, Ferarri, and Abarth. In 1984 they took over the Alfa Romeo and in 1993 Maserati.
Through out the years Fiat produced excellent cars. In 1989 their Tio was voted car of the year. They received that title again in 1995 with the Fiat Punto. As Fiat celebrated their 100th anniversary they changed the logo to a round one. By 2006 they were chosen as the official car of the Olympics with the 4×4 Tutti. Fiat continues to grow today with cars like their Fiat 500 and Punto 150 Special Edition.