Final Inspection

Fiat 500 Offer Model for Others to Follow


Fiat 500 Offer Model for Others to Follow

Credit Chrysler-Fiat with a stroke of marketing inspiration this week.

Others should take note.

On hand for the annual convention of Club Fiat-Lancia Unlimited in Asheville, NC, – yes, apparently there is a U.S. fan club for the two brands, despite neither being sold here in more than 25 years, Fiat North America head Laura Soave offered members the first crack at a collector edition Fiat 500.

The diminutive 500, which will be launched for sale in the U.S. through about 125 exclusive showrooms beginning later this year, will mark the return of Fiat to the U.S. The car will be built in a Chrysler plant in Mexico.

The Fiat Cinquecento Prima Edizione will be offered in three colors – white, red and gray and come equipped with manual transmissions, sport exclusive Prima Edizione badging and be produced with sequential VIN numbers.

Only 500 of the cars will be built, and members of Club Fiat-Lancia are getting the first chance to reserve one.

“The Fiat Cinquecento Prima Edizione was developed especially with the Fiat fans in mind,” Soave told the group, whose annual convention is known as the Fiat Freakout. “For over a quarter of a century, the members of this club have kept the spirit of the Fiat and Lancia brands alive in North America through their unique and passionate support for true Italian design.

“We really value their loyalty, and the Prima Edizione is our gift of appreciation to these fans on behalf of Fiat North America.”

After the dinner, club members had a chance to walk over to a computer station and sign up to reserve one of the specialty models with a refundable deposit (pricing still not determined).

It is unclear how many took up the offer – Chrysler/Fiat isn’t saying at this point.

But the idea of cultivating enthusiasts and building excitement for a new model by giving them dibs on special-edition models is a fantastic idea. The concept is used widely in the music industry, where loyal fans can purchase concert tickets ahead of the general public and join clubs that offer access to exclusive collectibles.

It won’t work with every car line, but it is not hard to imagine creating some buzz – and maybe selling a few more cars – with similar offers to Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, Challenger, Miata and GT-R enthusiasts.

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What's Final Inspection?

WardsAuto editors share insights and observations on the global auto industry.


David E. Zoia

As Editorial Director, I oversee much of what goes into, enjoying a ringside seat that lets me observe up close just about every facet of the industry worldwide. I have covered the...

James M. Amend

James Amend is an associate editor at, covering day-to-day business and product news at General Motors. He also leads coverage of regulatory and environmental issues, as well as the...
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