Fiat Panda

For the 2003 redesign, see Fiat Panda (2003)
A German Fiat Panda
A German Fiat Panda

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Fiat Panda was intended as a modern day interpretation of the CitroŽn 2CV, being a basic and simple, no frills utility vehicle.

Introduced in 1980, the Panda was noted for its box-like styling, which would be developed two years later in the Uno. Mechanically, it borrowed heavily from the Fiat parts bin, using engines and transmissions from the Fiat 127. In certain territories, the air-cooled 652cc 2-cylinder powerplant from the Fiat 126 was also used. Suspension was courtesy of a very basic leaf-sprung dead axle at the rear, and MacPherson struts at the front.

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Fiat Panda 34 - 1985

There were also many features which contributed to the Panda's utility car role, for example the rear seat could be folded flat to make a bed, or folded up to act as a bottle carrier, or removed altogether to increase the load space. The front seats had removeable covers so that they could be washed. The fabric covered dashboard could also be removed, and the Panda could be specified with a full-length roll back canvas roof. In 1983, a four-wheel drive system was developed, and this proved popular in the Panda's home turf of rural Italy, where roads are very poor.

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Fiat Panda Dynamic 1.2 - 2004
1986 saw some major mechanical changes to the Panda, centering around the introduction of the FIRE engines from the Uno, and a new coil sprung rear axle to address the Panda's ride quality.

From 1996 the Panda began to be phased out across Europe, being a victim of tightening safety legislation, Production ended in September 2003. However, Fiat has introduced a new model in 2003, formerly known as Gingo. Fiat had to change the name, because of name conflicts with the Renault Twingo. The Panda Nuova was voted European Car of the Year for 2004.

The SEAT twin

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A pink Marbella

Spanish car maker SEAT also produced a version of the Panda. Up to 1983, SEAT lacked their own designs and only made rebadged versions of Fiat cars, due to a licence agreement between the two firms. Examples of this are the SEAT 124, 127, 131, 132, Ritmo, all of which are exact clones to their Fiat twins. Thus, it exists a Spanish version of this car, the SEAT Panda, produced from 1981 to 1986.

After Fiat sold their share in SEAT in 1983 and the licence agreement was over, the whole SEAT Fiat-clone model range was quickly given the least possible changes so that Fiat couldn't sue SEAT on the basis of patent infringement. The SEAT Panda had its front and rear lights and panel shapes redesigned and was marketed as a SEAT Marbella from 1986 to 1998. The same happened to the SEAT Ritmo, whose redesigned version was known as the Ronda.

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