Fiat Panda 4x4 Trekking by Autosalon Valencia | £16,180 | Year: 2003 | Engine: 1.1 litre inline four cylinder, 54 bhp
Everyone loves a Panda. Fiat’s original was less car and more family pet. The 4x4 edition even more so: a Jack Russell of a little car, eager to leap up the steepest of hills without too much in the way of panting. Now Autosalon Valencia, specialists in rare and unlikely vehicles, have given one of the rare remaining Fiat Panda 4x4 Trekking examples a makeover inspired by Ferrari and aimed at the ski slopes. There is, quite simply, nothing like it.
This is a maximalist spin on a minimalist design. "The Panda is like a pair of jeans," said its designer, the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro, "a simple, practical article of clothing without pretence. I tried to give it the essential quality of a military design, in particular of a helicopter, something light, rational and optimised for a specific purpose." The windscreen is flat, and thus cheap and easy to replace. Originally, the seating resembled deck chairs, the easier to be removed when the car was needed for lugging loads around. There is no fussy detailing.
Rather like Alec Issigonis's original Mini, there is very little that can't be done with such a classically brilliant form-follows-function design. The standard 4x4 Trekking, with added ride height and surprisingly nimble off-road capability, already did that, performing like a miniature Land-Rover up farmed hills in the likes of Tuscany and Sicily. Autosalon Valencia have added a highly distinctive colourway using Ferrari colours: Abetone Green over Ice White for the purposeful exterior will certainly turn heads. A ski rack suggests a future function, though leaving the little Panda at your ski chalet all year would be a criminal waste of a marvellous motoring companion.
Inside, any pretence of ascetic minimalist is thrown out. Cosseting seating is trimmed in beige leather with green Alcantara and hand stitching to match. There is Alcantara to the doors and dashboard too, adding an air of slightly hilarious luxury to the otherwise no-nonsense surroundings. The feel is of one of the coachbuilt Minis of the 1960s - by Radford, Wood and Pickett or Ogle - commissioned by the stars of the era. The little all-paw Fiat retains its power steering and electric windows - both luxuries by Panda standards - and has been fitted with larger tyres further to bolster an already striking first impression.
Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro described the Panda as "the most enchanting work of my life". Having this little off-roader in your driveway would, without question, add magic to every journey.