Exactly 50 years after Fiat emphatically demonstrated that it makes the best small cars in the world, a group of Fiat 500s will once again return to historic Liege in Belgium – leading a 10-day celebration of one of the greatest endurance rallies ever run.
The Fiat 500s, dating from the 1950s and 60s, are part of a stunning entry list confirmed by organisers of this July’s Liege-Brescia-Liege rally which, in 1958 was unique. Then, the challenge comprised 3300km of gruelling roads, including treacherous mountain passes through the Alps, Dolomites and Yugoslavia, driven flat out – and all in cars of less than 500cc.
This year, when the rally is re-run as part of the 50-year celebrations, Fiat will be providing support in the form of a transporter full of new Fiat 500s, the vehicle that shows small cars can be fun while offering more than 50mpg economy. Any classic microcar breaking down during the rally and not able to be repaired swiftly en route, will be swapped for a new 500 so that the crew can continue to enjoy the event.
Rally organisers and technicians will also be using a fleet of Fiat 500s, proving their reliability and practicality in tough conditions, and the Company will be supporting receptions for competitors and local media at overnight stops along the route, including Liege, Karlsruhe, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Ljubljana, Bolzano and Brescia.
Liege-Brescia-Liege 2008, organised by ClassicRallyPress Ltd, pays tribute to this pioneering attempt to prove the practicality, durability and usability of tiny cars that were often dismissed as town or ‘toy’ cars.
In 1958, 36 cars entered the event but only 13 finished, and they included all seven of the Fiat 500s that started the rally. The 500s were eventually placed 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 13th.
A 1958 report showed that the total engine capacity of all 13 cars that finished the event was less than that of one typical American car of the time – yet the 13 cars had transported 26 adults 2000 miles over tough terrain, non-stop, for three nights and two days.
This was the first environmentally-conscious car rally, and the 2008 event sets out to prove once again that large gas-guzzling cars are not needed to enjoy an unforgettable long-distance drive across many of Europe’s most beautiful mountain passes.