If giant pandas are rare, then this spotted, smaller Panda 4x4 is rarer still. The Fiat Panda 4x4 is a staple of the Italian countryside, a loyal working vehicle for farmers needing to go up Alp and down dale, or indeed anyone needing reliable transport in difficult conditions. The one-off example you see here has been rescued from a utilitarian life and its interior transformed into an ironic piece of pop art by maverick Milan-based design house Spinzi, with collaboration from the fabric experts at Alcantara. Never seen a spotted Panda before? You have now.


First things first. The original Fiat Panda - well before the Panda 4x4, that is - is a minimalist work of art all of its own. Inspiration was for a 1980s update on the Citroën 2CV and the Renault 4: a simple, cheap car that could carry four people and their luggage. Result, as designed by storied visionary Giorgetto Giugiaro, was the sharp, form-follows-function lines of the Panda.

That unspotted pre Panda 4x4 runabout was an instant success. More and better was to come for a car that became a kind of 1980s Italian Mini, as much family pet as actual transport. Fiat commissioned Steyr-Puch, more used to working on high-end projects such as the Mercedes G-Wagen, to come up with a four wheel-drive version and the Panda 4x4 was born. Everyone from police forces to those famers loved them.

Time to give the Panda 4x4 an upgrade, ready for its close-up at one of the events of the St Moritz season. Step forward, then, the designers at Spinzi, whose speciality is sharp industrial-inspired design, and who’ve collaborated with everyone from Porsche to German clothing label Closed. Together with high-end fabric and fashion company Alcantara, every interior surface, from seating to the inside of the fold-back sunroof has been covered in yellow spotted Alcantara fabric. Accelerator, brake and clutch pedals? Also yellow. This is an art car for the masses.

Inspiration for the Panda 4x4 design, says Spinzi founder Tommaso Spinzi, comes from his company’s Silös collection of furniture and accessories. These are minimalist pieces that take their design edge from industrial buildings and their surroundings, all with playful holes cut into them. No actual holes, happily, were cut into the innocent Panda 4x4, but instead those yellow spots here there and everywhere.

The Spinzi Panda 4x4 retains all of its off-roading abilities, so naturally the place to debut this eye-catching transformation was at the chilly St Moritz concours d’elegance known as ICE, a witty acronym for International Concours d’Elegance and a reference to the fact that it’s held on actual ice. More usually attended by million pound Ferraris and AC Cobras, who get a turn driving on the ice, the rare spotted car was entirely at home, being a classless vehicle with a unique makeover, quite literally priceless. Tommaso Spinzi says his company’s mission is to "inspire, stimulate and create meaningful environments”. With his Panda 4x4, that’s job done, we’d say.

Photography: Antonio Mocchetti & RoyceXan

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