Fiatin lyhyt historia Suomessa 1970-luvulle saakka englannin kielellä - in english.
Koonnut Antti Pohjolan-Pirhonen

Fiat in Finland



Fiat started making cars 1899. Before the first world war cars were very rare in Finland. In those times most eager car buyers were medical doctors and wealthy estate owners, who were the first ones to jump into a conclusion that cars were more reliable than horses which may become sick or are so stubborn. The only Fiat remaining from those days is Fiat Zero from 1916, which can be found in Hyvinkää Railway Museum. This car has been transformed to a railway vehicle.


 The selling figures of cars started to raise in twenties. In the years 1920-22 1396 cars were imported and in the years 26-28 the figures were 23 500. At least then also Fiat started to become familiar to Finnish people. Fiat was then best selling European car in Finland. In the year 1928 there in Finland was 20 870 American cars and 2031 European cars, of which 795 were Fiats.  The best selling model was Fiat 501.

Also the Finnish army had chosen Fiat for its transporting needs. The main part of Finnish army lorries were Fiat 15 Ter Lorries.

Finnish Air Force had 122 Hansa-Brandenburg waterplanes, which were motored by Fiat engines. This aeroplane engine gave the speed also to the unique Fiat Mefistofele Eldridge racer.

In the early years Finnish people had the image that motorcars  are ”wonders of America” although the this concept was born in Europe. In twenties Fiat was car with quality and prestige having models in the same size as Americans. Fiat was found then more prestigious and people used to say that ”Oh you have that better Ford”.

Fiat is the only European limousine used by Finnish presidents (Fiat 519 Torpedo and Berlina).

You can still find many Fiats from twenties in Finland and even today the remaining Fiats from twenties are the majority among the other European marks from twenties.



The economical depression of thirties dropped Fiat totally down in Finland. Total car selling figures dropped from 9500 (1928) to 750 (1932). Fiat had gained a status of luxury car and now it suffered for it. During the following six no Fiats were sold.

The factory made right conclusions adopting American serial production methods in thirties. No more rich peoples cars, but mass production cars for ordinary people. Many luxury car manufacturer was dropped out of the market those days.

 Fiat in fact had a good experience of making good selling small cars (Fiat Zero), but in thirties came the second wave and such legendary cars as Fiat Balilla and Topolino. But Fiat did not have an importer in Finland then. In the year 1938 the total amount of cars in Finland was 25 800 of which only 434 were Fiat. And these were the Fiats of twenties, which proves us that Fiat was quite a durable car in our arctic climate.

Fiat was still the second European car in statistics, only Opel had passed by with 1124 cars. A new importer started 1938, but only 40 new Fiats were imported before the Sovjet Union attack to Finland in 30. November 1939 (Winter War last 105 days).


As late as 1949 the selling of cars started to get normal after war. The first new Fiats then in Finland were made in France and were mainly the model Simca 5 (Fiat Topolino). The most numerous Fiat model that imported to Finland was G50 fighter. Mussolini had given these 35 to help Finland in the Winter War. Hitler prohibited the transportation of these aeroplanes and they missed the Winter War. In the next war (the Continuation War) years 1941-1944 these Fiats dropped down 101 redstar aeroplanes.



Car selling of fifties in Finland started powerfully, but only started. In the year 1951 300 Fiats was imported to the Olympic Games 1952, but next few years was difficult time for car importers. Foreign currencies had been used more than Finland could afford and Finnish bank put an end to changing currencies. Only 50 Fiats was imported then. After mid fifties the annual sales of Fiat reached again 500 units. In the year 1957 for first time in history 1000 cars was imported. You may guess that 800 of these were Fiat 600´s.



        In the year 1963 Fiat was the third in market. Fords made in several countries were sold 8 000, Volkswagens 8 000 and Fiats 3 800 units. In addition to Fiats, Neckar built Fiats were sold 1 700 units.


        The small 600 broke the suspicions of Finnish people to cars ”made in south”. It was exceptionally warm in winter, was very reliable to start in low temperatures (from -20°c to -35°c) and its engine was clearly more durable than the engine of VW Beetle,         although its cc was only a half of Beetles cc. Fiat 600´s were imported from Italy, Germany, Spain and also small amounts from Yugoslavia. The quality of the cars from last mentioned country was quite poor. The total amount of imported 600´s is about 70 000 units.

The other popular Fiats were 1100-, 1300- and 1500-models. Also about 70 Fiat 500´s were sold, more 200 1800/2300 models (of which only 3 Fiat 2300S Coupe´s). But many other beautiful Coupe´s, Cabriolets and Spiders were sold (except Dino Spiders).

The tiny 500 did not find fans in Finland. It was clearly a city car or a second car. In sixties that was not a thinkable concept. In seventies people thought differently – more 1 000 Fiat 126 models were bought in seventies. It was advertised with terrible vision. What kind of a car are you going to drive when price of gasoline will raise to 30 cents (2 Finnish Marks). So the 600 was the smallest Fiat that people in sixties could think. It was Possible that parents and three children spent their summer holiday driving to Norwegian Mountains with luggage on roof.



In the beginning of seventies new records were achieved, when 12734 cars were bought in the year 1971 and the market share of Fiat was already 17%. This is the best percentage that Fiat ever had in Finland. Behind this new records we find again a glorious small Fiat, the 127.

The invasion of Japanese cars had however started and in the first stage they dropped British cars from the market. The lowest figures were reached in 1991. When importers of Fiat were changed rapidly and strong economical depression started.

Today the market share of Fiat has some years about 3-5% and again a small, the Punto has been in the main charge of good figures. Punto is nowadays (2000-2010) Finlands best selling car in its own segment.


Antti Pohjolan-Pirhonen