Fiat Panda, the boxy Italian utilitarian car goes electric

Garage Italia has reinterpreted the original model with new aesthetic and custom solutions, and a hundred percent electric engine, for a new limited series of five cars.

Another big trend of the 80s is making a comeback. The fiat Panda, the iconic car designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1980, was the symbol of an Italy that wanted to start fresh, join the jet-set life and party like the politicians. No wonder it was called "superutilitarian", as opposed to those boring grey utilitarian cars of that period.

Despite its square, brutalist, no-frills shapes, with lots of metal and plastic details, the first generation of the Fiat Panda managed to touch the people. It had earned the nickname “Pandino” and the main reason was that it was never going to leave you stranded, it was simple and reliable. It even got a mostly unsuccessful electric version, called “Panda Elettra”, back in the days.

The recovery of this icon was carried out by Garage Italia, which is interpreting Fiat's great success in a new and more modern way. The starting point is the Panda 4x4, a sturdy car still popular in the Italian countryside and in the mountains. This car was also very much loved by Gianni Agnelli, who had commissioned a custom version that would reflect his sophisticated style.

Lapo Elkan's group has turned the old “Pandino” into the first production of 5 Panda 4x4 Icon-e, each model being very different from one another: the adventurous Pandina Jones, the easygoing Pand'Art, the fashionable Pandaris, the festive Pandoro and the mysterious 00Panda. While the aesthetics and interiors are quite different for every model, these 5 cars have two elements in common: all Icon-E's have an electric engine with a range of 100 kilometers (the type 2 plug is located inside the fuel filling cap) and an audio system powered by JBL. The speaker box, which allowed us to listen to many great cassette tapes over the years, keep their original square design, while the speakers are brand new.

Let's start then from Pandina Jones, inspired by George Lucas' fearless archaeologist. The great protagonists of this car are the big chunky spare tyre mounted on the roof, the light protection grilles and the two big Carello spotlights mounted to the grille. The dark khaki exterior contrasts with the bright orange details that can also be found on the upholstery. Real adventure lovers are going to love this: the inclinometer placed on the instrument panel shows the pitch and roll of the vehicle.

Created with Arthur Kar of L'Art de L'Automobile, Pand'Art was designed for Paris Fashion Week. The large wicker basket on the roof immediately makes you think of "freshly baked madeleines", explains Garage Italia. This 4x4 Panda still features the ever-present light protection grilles, but its looks are softened by the two-tone combination of bright red and pearl grey on the exterior of the car. On the inside, it's the Alcantara upholstery that characterizes this unique model, while the audio system and electric power unit are the same of the adventurous Pandina Jones.

Panderis is the most sophisticated of the quintet, and the direct descendant of the 4x4 Panda that Gianni Agnelli had driven around Saint Moritz until 2001 (and put up for auction last November for 37 thousand euros). The car is no longer metallic grey: it is painted in "Barberis Brown", but the real distinctive feature of the car is its dark blue beauty line. Seats, door, panels and dashboard are lined with a four-piece twisted canvas by the Biella-based woolen mill Vitale Barberis Canonico, while the roof is covered with Perennial, a fabric that recalls a starry sky.

Even its name is festive: Pandoro was designed in collaboration with designer Marta Ferri, and the golden exterior is its distinctive trait. The Alcantara upholstery and the all black details make it the most loyal version of its ancestor. At this point, only the 00Panda is missing, but it hasn't been revealed yet. But after all, since it was made "for a secret agent", we shouldn’t ask too many questions.

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