The original Fiat 500 is an automotive icon of Italy, on par with the Beetle for Germany, the Mini for the United Kingdom, or the 2CV for France. The Cinquecento (and its derivative the Steyr-Puch 500, profiled by Paul here) sold well throughout Europe, so spotting one curbside in Paris is not unusual, but this one appearing parked directly in front of one of the entrances to France’s Ecole Militaire near the Eiffel Tower presents an unusual image. If a 500 is “artillerie,” it is definitely artillerie legere – or artiglieria leggera in its native language.
This particular example is a 500L, with the L standing for “Lusso” — Italian for “Luxury” — signifying a later model with interior and trim upgrades produced from 1968 to 1972, toward the end of the original 500’s 1957-75 production run. The 500L had a revised dashboard, more chrome, wraparound bumper guards, and other cosmetic additions. Luxury being relative, they did give the 500L a bit more flair than the very basic original 500, even if they did not make it the equal of a Ferrari 250GT Lusso. An original Fiat 500 at any trim level is a charismatic little car, though, so the owner of this more than four decade old 500L can park it with pride anywhere.