Brightly-colored examples of the itty-bitty city car slid around typical Italian alleyways paved with cobblestones and then ... dove suddenly into the sea, to then emerge from the depths on the beaches of Brooklyn.
Jump forward a few years, and we now have more Italian cars in the US than at any time in recent memory. After they retreated from North America 27 years ago — plagued by a reputation for unreliability — Fiat is solidly back, now offering three models of the 500 and many variations of each. The 124 Spyder roadster will become available to customers later this year.
Maserati, though never truly absent from the United States, began a trek out of near-obscurity with the Quattroporte sedan over a decade ago, then added the Ghibli sedan in 2013. Soon to join the lineup is the beautiful Alfieri sports car and a long-rumored SUV, called the Levante For the driving enthusiast, there is Alfa Romeo — another brand exiled from the US for more than 20 years. They brought us the exciting 4C in 2014. That car will be joined by the drop-top 4C Spyder and the 505 horsepower Giulia sedan.
And then, of course, there are the supercars.
Some say the most beautiful cars in the world come from Italy. Here's a list of reasons why.
The car that started it all: the Fiat 500. With 101 horsepower, you may look good, but you won't be in any hurry. We recommend the tuned-up Abarth trim.
The Fiat 500L. Yes, the Pope has one.
The slightly larger 500x messes with the original concept even more. It's a BIG tiny car.
Bringing a little Italian flair to the beloved Mazda MX-5 on which it is based, the Fiat 124 Spyder looks like the best of both worlds: an Italian roadster with Japanese engineering.
And in Abarth trim, the 124 Spyder drips with Italian motoring heritage.
Having only returned to the USA a few years ago, the Alfa Romeo 4C bantamweight sports car is built purely for driving pleasure.
And now the roof comes off, thanks to the 4C Spyder.
Later this year, the Alfa Romeo Giulia will become on of the best-looking sedans available in the US. Watch out, BMW and Audi!
Here's the $70,000 Maserati Ghibli, built to compete with the range of medium-sized German sedans, like the Mercedes E-Class. It slots just below ...
... the sixth-generation Maserati Quattroporte. After 53 years, the car still holds the record for
the least original name in the entire automotive industry: "four door." Of course, it sounds much better in Italian.
Maserati now makes the Levante SUV, which made its first US appearance at the New York Auto Show this year.
And the current king of the lineup is the Gran Turismo — but not for long.
Because the $100,000 Alfieri will be here soon. Here's the concept car.
And now for the real fireworks. From the folks who invented the supercar, you can have the V10 Lamborghini Huracan ...
... or the V12 Lamborghini Aventador. Tough choice, we know.
Upstart supercar maker Pagani has been challenging industry greats since it was formed in 1992. Here's their Huayra.
And then there's the Zonda and its many variants. This is the absolutely bonkers Pagani Zonda Revolucion.
But of course, there is really only one top dog in the world of Italian supercars: Ferrari. This is the 700-horsepower F12 Berlinetta.
The F12 TDF is an even more powerful version.
The California T is a more reserved grand touring car.
...and the 4-seat Ferrari FF is the first-ever 4-wheel drive Ferrari. Meaning you can squeeze your kids in the back and do a little off roading — prancing-stallion style.
The FF has just been replaced by the GTC/4 Lusso.
This is the Ferrari 458 Speciale, the last of the 458 line, now that ...
... the turbocharged 488 GTB and ...
... 488 Spyder are here. These bring turbocharging to Ferrari's legendary V8 mid-engine layout.
And no, you can't actually own the very exclusive and very sold-out LaFerrari. But here's a picture of one anyway.