One of the icons of automotive history is the Fiat 500. During the economically-depressed postwar years it was a sort of Italian Model T, being cheap, efficient, and available. It was powered by 500cc two cylinder engine and put out a smoking (literally) 13 hp. Now Fiat is bringing back a new twin, but this time in a much more modern form. They are building a new family of engines that will be based on a 450 cc cylinder module. The whole family is based on the same combustion chamber design with variants ranging from the 900cc twin, up to a 3.6L V-8.

The twin will appear in Fiat's small cars beginning in 2010. Compared to the 13hp of the original 500, the new engines will have from 60hp up to 90-110hp in the most powerful versions. They will feature technologies like turbocharging, direct-injection, and a variable valve timing and lift system with no throttle. The new version of the Fiat 500, coming out in 2007, will get upgraded with the new engine in 2010. The current Fiat Panda also has 60hp but from a 1.2L engine. Fiat's plans also include 1.8L I-4, 2.7L V-6 and 3.6L V-8 variants although they haven't yet been approved for production.

[Source: Automotive News - subscription required]