Fiat invented minivan concept with the Multipla
Multipla could be built to hold four to six passengers, with different cargo configurations
It is widely believed that Chrysler invented the minivan, but actually, Fiat beat them to it by at least 28 years.
Following the Second World War, Fiat management decided that Italy and the world needed a small, cheap-to-build and easy-to-purchase people mover.
Fiat was no stranger to building small cars. The cute and lovable Fiat 500 Topolino, built between 1936 and 1954, was one of the best-loved small cars of all time.
Having spent some time on the drawing board and in the hands of the engineers, the Fiat 600 was finally launched at the 1955 Geneva Motor Show. This small rear-engine car was powered by a 22-horsepower 633-cubic centimetre engine. The body had two doors and was capable of carrying four adults in reasonable comfort.
In 1956, the Fiat 600 known as the Multipla was launched. The station wagon or van version was basically a stretched version of the car. It shared a number of common sheet metal panels and pieces of glass.
The Multipla was available in a number of seating or cargo configurations. The 4/5-seater version was fitted with two bench seats that folded flat into a bed.
The six-seater had a front bench seat and four individual seats that folded completely flat into the floor making it a great cargo van.
There was also a taxi version fitted with a single driver’s seat. It had a luggage platform next to the driver (similar to the old London Taxi cab), a folding middle bench seat and a fixed bench seat in the back.
In 1960, the Multipla received a larger 767-cc engine producing an additional eight horsepower.
During the 13-year production run 2.7 million units were produced.
The 1998 to 2010 Type 186 Fiat Multipla was not so pretty, it was voted by the Telegraph newspaper as number two of the 100 ugliest vehicles produced and Jeremy Clarkson of the BBC TV show Top Gear describes it as only he could! As a car that looks bonkers.