The Panda was intended to be cheap to buy (it cost £2,860 when it went on sale in the UK) and easy to maintain. The name for the car, decided late in production, is a tribute to Empanda, the Roman goddess of travellers. Not, as you might have previously assumed, to the lethargic bears. 
The car's designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro said: “The Panda is like a pair of jeans; that simple, practical, no-frills piece of clothing. I tried to bring into this car the spirit of military machinery, especially helicopters, that means light, rational, built-for-purpose vehicles.”
More ruggedly styled and featuring a 47bhp engine that sent power to all corners, the Panda 4x4 was introduced in 1984.
One of the Panda's many special editions, the Panda Italia 90 celebrated Italy's hosting of the football world cup. The car's wheels are much more shocking than the fact that England was knocked out by West Germany in the semis.
Electric cars have been around for a long time, though technology limitations dampened their appeal until very recently. Launched in 1990, the Panda Elettra had a 62 mile range, due to its 12 6V lead-acid batteries.
Fiat discontinued the Panda in the UK in 1995. We rejoiced, therefore, when the second-generation Panda was airlifted into production in 2003.
The Panda II showed itself to be nothing if not adaptable. In 2006, Italian engineer Maurizio Zanisi modified a Panda with a flotation belt and a propulsion system, then crossed the channel in it.
Proving that it really could "go anywhere", two specially-equipped Pandas took part in the Dakar Rally in 2007.
From sand to ice. The Panda keeps up with a Ferrari F1 car at an event in the Italian Alps in 2007.
It's also been driven by Ferrari F1 pilots, including Michael Schumacher...
... and the iceman himself, Kimi Räikkönen.
Through the good times, and the bad. A Panda sits atop a mound of rubble after an earthquake devastated central Italy in 2009.
After a nine-year run, the Panda II made way for the Panda III in 2012. Not a bad car for the end of the world that was predicted for that year. The Panda III is the version still available today.
With Panda III, of course, came the sturdy 4x4 variant.
And an all-new variant, the Panda Cross. It pandered (sorry not sorry) to the SUV-loving world we know today.
Fiat showed itself to have a sense of humour when it made an Inbetweeners-spec "Hawaii" edition for April Fool's day in 2019.
Get you a man that can do both, as the meme goes — here's the Fiat Panda designed by Italian fashion house Trussardi.
Finally, to the most recent iteration — the Panda Hybrid, released in early 2020.

Fiat Panda gallery: 40 years of the utilitarian icon

Celebrating four decades of the automotive pair of jeans

GIORGETTO Giugiaro is one the best-known car designers for a number of good reasons. The supercars he created came to define an era — the DMC DeLorean, the Maserati Ghibli and the Lotus Esprit to name a few. We celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Giugiaro-designed Mk1 VW Golf in 2014, and six years later we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of a similarly practical design: the Fiat Panda.

More than 280,000 of the cars have been sold in the UK since the launch of the practical city car. Since then, we’ve seen a number of spin-offs and special editions — almost enough to make the Panda a marque in its own right.

There was a dark time around Y2K that the Panda wasn’t sold in the UK, but the second generation has been strutting around the nation’s roads since 2003, with the current iteration (the third generation of the car) introduced in 2011.

It has, naturally, made it’s appearances on the UK’s TV sets. Jeremy Clarkson famously turned a 1992, first-generation Panda into a 40-foot stretch limousine in the ninth series of Top Gear, using his creation to take then-Radio 1 host Chris Moyles to the Brit awards, arriving with only half of the limo intact.

It made another appearance beating a Suzuki Ignis in a mountain race in the 26th series of the show. Thanks to its lightness, it beat the Land Rover Defender in an off-road challenge on Fifth Gear, gingerly tip-toeing over a muddy bog where the Defender stopped short.

It’s been through three versions and forty years, and that seems like ample excuse to have an amble through the history of the Fiat Panda. Enjoy the gallery above.

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