“Wow, what make of car is that …?” Difficult to say these days. With a few exceptions. There were (and still are) a number of faces in the crowd that stood out from all the rest – not least because of the design and arrangement of their headlights. Our mini-series will take a subjective look at some of the most spectacular designs and some of the weirdest, some long forgotten and some that are still on the roads today. Today’s the day the author had a long time to prepare for. Today’s the day of … the Fiat Multipla.

If you write about “faces” on the road you won’t get around that one. Between 1999 and 2010 Fiat built a really good car, a minivan on a highly variable spaceframe structure. Thanks to a number of optional single seats it was a real chameleon with many different engines, BluPower diesel generators and later on also bivalent natural gas engines. Good stuff. That was the multi-faceted Multipla for you.

If only designers hadn’t handed in their final draft straight after a boozy night out. They seem to have fantasized about creatures with six eyes, rotund and chubby, that wanted to take over the world with their cute little grins. They built a monument to these strange mythical creatures and had them manufactured in Italy for five years. At least this multiple van got three stars in the NCAP crash test, but only because all oncoming vehicles and even the concrete block were jumping out of the way screaming when they saw its front. OK, I admit that I find that car a tiny bit bad. Not so bad that it’s iconic though, the way some magazines claim. No. Way beyond that.

People are having a go at me on Facebook, asking me why I always pick on it. Others, on the other hand, find way more dramatic words than me to express their aversion to the Fiat Multipla. But some are faithful to it. One can even be found in the New York Museum of Modern Art because of its … unusual … design. Well well. It polarizes. I think that’s great. Happy Multipla owners, who after checking out the exterior have survived the similarly chubby interior design, like their Fiat. They love it the way an ugly face is only loved by a mother. A faithful ugly face, mind you, because the Multipla is by no means a bad car.

In 2004 something happened when the front was straightened out. From that point on it was rather unspectacular. Let’s just acknowledge that the car stands out from the crowd and is a faithful companion to its owner. The rest is a matter of taste, but one man’s meat is another man’s poison. After all, the poor Multipla is no more to blame for its design than Moon Unit is for her name. That sausage below the windscreen for the high beam lights combines with the other four wart-like lights and the two indicators to form a unique automotive conglomerate. Thanks, Fiat, for giving us such an incredibly polarizing car. Seriously. THANK YOU! We’ll still be arguing about the design in 20 years but that’s a good thing.

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