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Fiat – the Latin word for “Let it be” used by magicians in medieval and Classical literature to conjure with. How lucky it was, therefore, that the Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Car Factory of Turin) was able to reduce its name to these initials. Fiat has certainly grown from its humble beginnings in 1899 to become a famous automobile manufacturer with units being produced in not only Italy but also Poland, Brazil and Argentina, with joint venture productions located in France, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, China and India. Perhaps the name Fiat was magic after all.

While Fiat began by only producing cars and agricultural equipment, Fiat has now broadened into other areas, including, at one time, producing aeroplanes. Unlike many other automotive companies, Fiat seems to have escaped its share of hard times over the course of its history (possibly because it did produce aeroplanes for the right people at the right time during the two world wars). This almost magical success has seen Fiat buying and taking over many other companies to make Fiat the largest industrial company in Italy.

Fiat has also grown internationally and Fiat Australis is no exception with some great vehicles on offer

So what do Fiat and its subsidiaries produce apart from the little Pandas and Unos you can see zipping around the crowded streets of Melbourne or Brisbane, and that car dealers can say with frequent honesty that they’ve had one little old lady owner? In the automotive world, Fiat owns some marques that are anything but little-old-ladyish: Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati (mind you, there are some little old ladies who wouldn’t mind owning these – this writer’s grandmother owned an Alfa Romeo sports car she referred to as Lorenzo).

You’ve probably seen a number of Fiat’s agricultural and heavy machinery equipment around, too, as this mega-company owns CNH Global, the second-largest producer of agricultural equipment, including the New Holland, Kobelco and New Holland Construction ranges (if you get stuck in traffic looking at a crane, check out the make – it may be one of Fiat’s subsidiaries). Fiat has interests in the commercial vehicle world, the Iveco buses being produced along with Fiat’s own-name Ducato and Scudo.

At the other end of the scale, Fiat also owns the company that produces the sexy little Vespa motorbikes.

But cars are what Fiat started with and it’s the cars that have made the Fiat name famous – admittedly moreso in Europe than Australia. And justifiably so. Fiat has scooped the prestigious European Car of the Year award no less than eleven times, either with its own-name vehicles or those with other badges. These elite vehicles are the Fiat 124 (1967), Fiat 128 (1970), Fiat 127 (1972), Lancia Delta (1980), Fiat Uno (1984), Fiat Tipo (1989), Fiat Punto (1995), Fiat Bravo/Brava (1996), Alfa Romeo 156 (1998), Alfa Romeo (2001) and Fiat Panda (2004).

Fiat is now looking into expanding into the developing world as a target market for cars, where the company expects that its simple, small cars will be popular and affordable. Let it be (or, in Latin, Fiat)!

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