Fiat is a car maker that’s been in the business since the end of the 19th century. They produce many popular models. And they have a worldwide following by enthusiasts and the motoring press alike.

When you walk into the showroom of any car dealership, you are bound to find several Fiat models for sale. It’s no surprise, given the firm’s quality control, styling and attention to detail. Are you a Fiat enthusiast? Or maybe you’d like to learn more about this famous car marque?

Here are ten fun facts about Fiat that you probably never knew about!

1. Fiat’s first car got sold in 1899

The first car that the Italian auto maker ever made was the Fiat 4 HP. Just eight models got produced in 1899. It featured a 679 cc two-cylinder engine that got mounted at the back of the car. Producing just 4.2 brake horsepower, the Fiat 4 HP made use of a three-speed manual transmission. The gearbox had no reverse gear.

The Fiat 4 HP could reach a top speed of 22 mph, and offered around 35 miles per gallon. Not bad gas mileage for such a small motor!

2. The Fiat Group own many different subsidiaries

Fiat isn’t just a car marque; it’s also a parent company of many different subsidiaries. The businesses that the Fiat Group owns include:

  • Alfa Romeo;
  • Chrysler;
  • Dodge;
  • Ferrari;
  • Iveco;
  • Lancia;
  • Maserati.

The company’s latest acquisition was the Chrysler Group. Back in 2009 it had started to buy large stakes in the enterprise. And in January 2014, Fiat decided to create a new group company merging the assets of both the Fiat and Chrysler groups. That new business name got called Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles.

3. Fiat’s CEO doesn’t like selling EVs in the United States

Sergio Marchionne is the current CEO of Fiat. He is a man that doesn’t mince his words. So it comes as no surprise to the motoring world when he voiced his thoughts on the Fiat 500e electric vehicle.

Back in May 2014, Marchionne told a packed audience in Washington that he’d rather people didn’t buy the Fiat 500e. He said that every time someone in the United States buys one, he loses $14,000!

“I’m honest enough to tell you that,” he added.

4. Fiat doesn’t just make cars

Many people believe that Fiat are only involved with the production of cars. But it might surprise you to learn that Fiat, or rather the Fiat group, don’t just make cars only!

You can buy panel vans under the Fiat brand too. For example, the Ducato and Doblo are two light commercial vehicles made by the Italian manufacturer. One of their subsidiaries, Iveco, make large trucks and commercial vehicles.

In the mid 1980s, Ford had a controlling stake in Iveco. It was only in recent years that Iveco became part of the Fiat Group.

5. The Fiat 500 is one of the company’s best-sellers

The current Fiat 500 model, in production since 2007, is one of the company’s best-selling models to date. It won European Car of the Year back in 2008.

The model is so popular that you are not likely to spend a day on any road without seeing at least one of them! Car dealers like the Pentagon Group sell them like hot cakes! And wherever you are in the world, you will find at least one annual car event dedicated just to this car model only!

6. Fiat used to make airplanes

Is there anything Fiat won’t get involved with, I hear you ask? Well, it would seem not! Fiat Aviazione (Fiat Aviation) used to make some military planes during World War I and World War II times.

Pictured above is one of its models, the Fiat G91. There are plenty of websites dedicated to Fiat’s old military planes, in case you wanted to find out more.

The company is no longer part of the Fiat Group. It now makes up part of the aerospace company Alenia Aermacchi.

7. Fiat once owned a ski resort in the Alps

Something unrelated to anything mechanical or automotive is the Sestriere ski resort in the Alps. It is located approximately 11 miles from the French border. The resort’s name derives from the Latin word “sistrariam.” The translation is “sixty Roman miles from Turin.”

There are around 800 people that live in the Sestriere area. During the winter holiday season, up to 20,000 tourists visit this popular ski resort. Fiat sold off their interests in Sestriere back in 2006.

8. Fiat’s top car markets are in Italy and Brazil

It will perhaps come as no surprise to you that Fiat’s is the most popular car marque in its native Italy. But did you know that it’s also Brazil’s top-selling car brand too?

The people of Brazil have a long-lasting love affair with Fiat cars. If you ever venture out to that part of the world, you will see Fiat cars everywhere! Brazil is the second biggest market for Fiat (with Italy being the first).

9. Fiat and Mazda formed an alliance

Back in 2012, the Fiat Group formed an alliance with Japanese auto maker Mazda. You might be aware that Mazda announced the new MX-5 will be available from 2015. Fiat also announced that they will be selling a new roadster too.

Both cars will get built at Mazda’s production plant in Hiroshima, Japan. Although they will use their own engines rather than sharing a common power plant.

10. The original Fiat 500 was the world’s smallest production car

Those of you with a penchant for classic cars will doubtless know about the “original” Fiat 500 from the 1950s to the 1970s.

At the time, the Fiat 500 was considered the world’s smallest production car. Italians gave a nickname to the Fiat 500: topolino. That translates to “little mouse.” Today, this iconic car has gained cult status.