Vellum Venom: 2012 FIAT 500 Gucci Convertible
Gucci is no stranger to OEM trim packages for major manufacturers. The House of Gucci originally lent its unique Italian flavor to somewhat of an Intercontinental Bastard: a leaf sprung, Chevy Nova based Cadillac with a Spanish name.
That car is the original Seville, but the 1979 model. And while hideous, the sheer audacity of the Gucci Seville puts every Seville after 1985 to shame. That’s because the second-generation (1980-1985) Cadillac Seville made for the most Gucci worthy platform on the planet. It’s Hooper body throwback design was dying for something as ludicrous as Gucci’s graphics.
But the nicest Gucci for people looking for the basics of this designer brand in a non-offensive wrapper was the 1989 Lincoln Town Car Gucci edition. The canvas top was solid blue, white paint, and sported a very tame (by Gucci standards) leather and cloth seat design. This car was a looker, plus the Lincoln Town Car was a machine to be respected on presence, durability and value. Not so with any Caddy from this era, which sported powertrains about as durable as knock-offs of said designer’s handbags. The sensible Gucci? Well, perhaps not.
But now we have the FIAT 500 Gucci. Perhaps it’s because both designs are Italian in heritage, the meeting of these two brands is rather seamless. Too bad I can’t say perfect.
The front of the new 500 is cute and pretty enough, and Gucci’s chrome bumper guards don’t necessarily add or detract from the package. From here there’s no reason to question the 500’s staying power against the MINI Cooper.
Not so as we start moving across. Note the ratio of sheet metal in the wheel arch to the wheels. Note the sheer bulkiness of the side view mirrors. This car is becoming less cute. Which is far less cool than a MINI Cooper.
Don’t get me wrong, those Gucci wheels are pure decadence and deliciousness. And making them body color is even cooler, fashion statement wise. The B-pillar badging is totally worth bragging about. What lets the whole package down is the fact that the FIAT 500 is taller and clumsier looking than the MINI Cooper. See that body side crease right above the door handle? If the greenhouse started there and the roof line ended accordingly, this would be a very pretty, unquestionably cute vehicle.
Instead, FIAT gave us a dumpy little crossover, an alternative to a Suzuki SX4…but only in styling terms, of course.
Once again, imagine the FIAT 500 if the crease in the middle was where the greenhouse started. We’d have a serious threat to the MINI’s lock on cuteness and fashionista approved style.
That said, the details on the FIAT 500 Gucci drop top do not disappoint. The Gucci fabric for the roof is pretty slick, even though I seriously doubt most men would publicly admit this. But it is true: so go ahead and feel good about it.
Here’s a shot of that B-pillar. Yes, it does make you feel a little more special when you enter the 500’s cabin. And that’s precisely why designer editions of regular vehicles exist!
I don’t normally want to photograph the inside of a vehicle for this series, but the Gucci’s trimmings are worth the effort. The “Double G” leather, two-tone design, Gucci stripe inserts and matching seatbelts are like nothing seen on a modern car. In this age of boring gray, tan, black or an interesting color merely used as an accent (I’m looking at every car with brown seats but still with black carpets and dashtops) the Gucci 500’s trimmings are a serious breath of fresh air. I like it.
I suspect the polarizing nature of the Gucci combined with the Italian cute factor of the 500 make it a perfect pairing. But if only that belt line went down, since it needs that to be a beautiful car.
Put another way, I wonder what it would take to get a Gucci trimmed MINI Cooper instead. That would be a winner.
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One for the Ritz-Carlton residences... Sorry smelly, ugly ol' me wouldn't fool your Gucci in this. I'd stain/soil those fine fabrics. Watch the lipstick or nail gloss. A diamond ring might scratch the glass. And that beltline should be lower Sajeev?
Gucci's car history in America runs further back than the Seville. My mother had a Gucci edition of the AMC Sportabout (i.e., Hornet station wagon), circa 1974 or so. It had little intertwined G's on the headliner, cream colored seats with green and red trim, and lots of Gucci badging. Now THAT was a successful attempt at marketing a sow's ear to the silk purse crowd. Never before had my mother shopped for an AMC, and even if the company survived much longer she wouldn't have done so again.