Jaws drop for Fiat 500

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - August 14, 2009 Could the new Fiat 500 and its technology be the savior of the new Chrysler?

Chrysler and its new partner Fiat hope so.

This is the second 500 officially brought to North America.

It's in Philadelphia this weekend and it already has fans who have driven European versions that get 40 to 45 miles to the gallon.

"This car has personality and it has, I hate to use the word, soul. It has character," Brett Melancion of Tennessee said.

Chrysler decided to show off the new 500 at an annual convention of Fiat collectors held this year in King of Prussia.

After decades of jokes about Fiat reliability, Fiat now is getting rave reviews worldwide.

"The new Fiat 500 is a hip car; it's retro looking, but it has all the modern conveniences and the build quality equal to anything in the world," Bobb Rayner of the Fiat-Lancia Unlimited said.

"This car is so popular in Europe, they can't build them fast enough," Nick Puopolo of Canada said.

In its first day on local roads, the little Italian was turning heads says Lisa Barrow of Chrysler.

"Especially 18 to 25-year-olds, yelling out the windows, 'How much? When can I get it?'" Barrow said.

At this point, Chrysler is not letting people drive its 500, but a museum in Nashville sent its model, imported from England, with right hand drive and left hand gearshift.

Chrysler has not said how much the 500 will sell for in the United States or when it will go on sale.

(Soul, by the way, is manufactured by Kia.)

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