There are seemingly a few unwritten rules when it comes to the restomod: it has to be fast, it has to be expensive, it has to be just the car to get you out of bed on a Sunday morning. Or it’s a Land Rover. Not this time, however, because it’s the Fiat Panda of all things that’s been brought back to better than new. And looks absolutely brilliant for it.
2023 marks 40 years of the original Panda 4x4, up there with the Mini as one of the coolest small cars ever made. To do the birthday justice, Niels van Roij Design teamed up with Kaeve Cars to transform a Panda Sisely into the glorious little car you see here. Officially called the Fiat Panda 4x4 Piccolo Lusso, it’s described as a ‘homage to both elegance and functionality’.
Elegance isn’t normally a word associated with the Panda, but then this isn’t any old example. The respray is pretty spectacular on its own, Azzurro Blu designed to encapsulate ‘the allure of the azure waters that grace the picturesque Italian coasts’. But that’s nothing, really, compared to the stunning new interior, teak decking and all. No, honest, look in the boot. The Mediterranean, dolce vibe continues with the brown leather, while the cloth upholstery uses tiny woven squares to evoke the Panda’s famous silhouette. Neat.
The old car hasn’t been forgotten here, either, with the Sisley ‘man in a canoe’ badge now found on the headrest, door panel and steering wheel. So single-minded was the vision that the team felt the Piccolo Lusso must have clear front indicators and side repeaters, even though Fiat only now sell them in orange. And the rear ones are still standard. But if the mission is to ‘redefine automotive aesthetics’, then nothing but the vision will do.
And we’re only teasing, because the Panda looks brilliant even with its mismatched indicators. Opulent superminis don’t always hit the spot - think Aston Cygnet to Fiesta Vignale - but the Piccolo Lusso seems to strike a really nice balance between retaining that original charm and introducing a new, more luxurious side. There’s no mention of any engine work. Which feels appropriate, too.
Helpfully, because Pandas never were that expensive, it’s not crazy money to do a restomod. The once-Sisley-now-Piccolo-Lusso is going to be sold at Kaeve cars in Uden for €30,000. Niels van Roij said of the creation: "The Fiat Panda 4x4 Piccolo Lusso represents the unwavering commitment of Niels van Roij Design to push the boundaries of creativity and craftsmanship. With its evocative design, opulent interior, and meticulous attention to detail, the Piccolo Lusso stands as a remarkable embodiment of automotive artistry." For the moment, this Fiat is a one-off; given how well it’s turned out, however, and the desire of Niels van Roij to create a ‘portfolio of reimagined classics’, we can surely expect many similar cars soon. Bring ‘em on.
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