In the late 1990s, Fiat set out to prove cheap and eco-friendly weren’t mutually exclusive. It argued a car could be both with an innovative, opinion-cleaving concept named Ecobasic built to preview the econobox of the future.
Fiat quietly presented the Ecobasic at the 1999 edition of the Bologna auto show, which was still a big deal 21 years ago, and it displayed it again at the following year’s Geneva show. Its high-top Converse-shaped silhouette turned heads everywhere it went, and that was only the beginning. Looking closer revealed its front end received a transparent panel that let users add oil, coolant, wiper fluid, or give the battery a jump. Audi adopted a similar solution for its A2. It had one door on the driver’s side, two on the passenger’s side, and a transparent hatch underlined by a pair