The Fiat Panda 4x4 is a small car with a big personality. For 40 years, it has been the companion of many adventurers who dared to explore the most challenging terrains and climates. From the Alps to the Sahara, from the Amazon to the Arctic, the Panda 4x4 has proven its versatility, reliability, and fun factor.
The Birth of the Panda 4x4
The Fiat Panda was launched in 1980 as a simple, practical, affordable city car. It was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and Aldo Mantovani of Italdesign, who wanted to create a car that was easy to use, maintain, and repair. The Panda was a two-box, three-door hatchback with a minimalist and functional style. It had a transverse engine, front-wheel drive, and independent suspension. It was also very spacious and modular, with a folding rear seat and a removable front seat.
The Fiat Panda was an instant success, selling over 1.5 million units in its first decade. However, Fiat wanted to expand its appeal and offer something more adventurous and innovative. In 1983, they introduced the Panda 4x4, the first small, transverse-engined production car to have a four-wheel drive system. The Panda 4x4 was developed in collaboration with Steyr-Puch, an Austrian company specializing in off-road vehicles. The Panda 4x4 had a modified chassis, a reinforced body, and a permanent all-wheel drive system with a viscous coupling and a lockable central differential. It also had a higher ground clearance, larger tires, and specific bumpers and moldings.
The Panda 4x4 was powered by a 965 cc engine with 48 hp, derived from the Autobianchi A112 or Fiat 100 series engine. It also had a very low-range first gear, which helped it cope with steep slopes and rough terrains. The Panda 4x4 could tackle snow, mud, sand, and rocks and deliver good fuel economy and low emissions. It was also easy to drive and park, thanks to its compact dimensions and light steering.
The Panda 4x4 was a pioneer in the segment of small off-road cars, and it quickly gained popularity among customers who wanted a versatile and fun car that could handle any situation. Various organizations and institutions, such as the Italian Army, the Red Cross, Civil Protection, and the Vatican, used the Panda 4x4. It also participated in several rallies and expeditions, such as the Paris-Dakar, the Raid Transamazonica, and the Raid Cap Nord.