The official logo of Italia'90 was named "CIAO" (which is Italian for "Hello") and is arguably one of the most memorable in World Cup history. This stick man with his green, red and white body (a tricolour paying homage to the Italian flag) with his football for a head was omnipresent throughout the World Cup in 1990, appearing in the opening credits of each game and post tournament montages. Merchandise with CIAO emblazoned on it was popular then, and now.
West Germany emerged victorious in this World Cup, narrowly beating Argentina on a penalty in the Final, making Franz Beckenbaur the first person to lift the trophy as both a player and team coach. Gazza's tears are remembered by a nation as England was beaten in the semi-finals on missed penalties - Italy clinched third place, having lost to Argentina in the last four.
FIAT was a major sponsor of the 1990 World Cup and the special edition "Italia 90" Fiat Panda was sold in multiple European markets during the spring and summer of 1990. In the UK it was based on a standard white 750cc Panda L, and this special edition included unique graphics (a green and red pin stripe creating the tricolour of the Italian flag and "CIAO" on the rear quarter panels), a custom interior fabric (Azzurri blue fabric with "CIAO" logos stitched on the back panels - the Italian football team play blue), a tricolour shield motif on the grille and perhaps the most well known feature - the football hubcaps! (However these appear only to be for certain markets - some European markets got solid white hubcaps). In Italy and Germany buyers were able to choose an Italia'90 based on a higher trim level which explains why some cars have rear wash wipe, later interiors with tipping front seats and the option of a full canvass sunroof.
The pre -production press car sported white painted door mirrors and a white windscreen wiper arm, however they did not make it to production. The Fiat Style Centre and Carrozerria Maggiora also commissioned 40 convertible ‘service cars’ for the Italian market. The Agnelli family and Juventus gave one of these to each of the players who took part in the ‘Nazionale’, and they had their name on the side. Twelve of the open-topped cars were driven onto the pitch at the start of each match in each of the stadiums hosting the matches.
In the UK, FIAT launched a large marketing campaign for the duration of the World Cup which included TV, radio and print. Listeners to local radio were given the chance to win a four-day trip to Italy amongst other branded merchandise. In addition, FIAT encouraged all dealerships to screen the matches on televisions. A total of 450 Italia'90 Pandas found homes in the UK, however once England had crashed out of the competition the national football fever waned. It was not uncommon to find dealers with remaining stock peeling off the graphics and replacing the hubcaps with standard silver ones in an attempt to find homes for the unsold units.
There are currently no accurate figures about how many were supplied into the other European markets but the register has identified 29 cars which survive worldwide including 9 in the UK, 13 in Italy, 3 in Germany and one in each of Portugal, Croatia, Ireland, Poland and The Netherlands. (However it must be noted that the examples in Croatia and Poland were privately imported and this model was never officially offered in either).
Formed in 2018, the main purpose of the register was to track down and unite the owners of surviving examples, both in the UK and worldwide.
The owners of all remaining UK cars are members of the register, and all are active participants in both FIAT specific shows, and those on the wider classic car scene. We welcome both owners and admirers to be a part of the register, and help promote this wonderfully quirky little car. We have a very active presence on both Instagram and Facebook with both a page and a group.
2020 marked the 30th Anniversary since the launch of the special edition Italia'90 and and it was also the 40th Anniversary of the launch of the FIAT Panda. Many of us had planned to attend not only local and national shows, but also to take part in the annual Pandas to Pandino meeting in Italy. Unfortunately the current worldwide health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant the cancellation of all scheduled events.
We all look forward to some normality later in 2021 and the easing of travel restrictions but we encourage all members to observe government advice to ensure their safety and well being. We look forward to the future lifting of restrictions and announcements of future events to bring us all together again.