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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Kinsmart Fiat 500 and Ford Ka

We all love cars no matter what size or shape they are, though for some folks who live in the city what they prefer is a smaller size car to fit in tight parking spaces and narrow streets.  This is where the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka come into play, yet these Kinsmart vehicles are rather LARGE for their size!

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Fiat 500

I've talked about the new Fiat 500 a few times before, so what is the orgin of the 500?  While the United States enjoyed a booming culture after World War II, the same cannot be said of Europe who was cleaning up after the destruction that was left of the war.  Plus many cities of each country were built before the automobile was created so a small city car was the preferred means to get by.  The nuevo 500 was the successor to the 500 Topolino as it has a basic small shape with seating for four an an air-cooled engine at the rear, very similar idea to the Volkswagen Beetle at the time.  A 1949 introduction coincided with the Beetle's release as well.  There were differences between the 500 and the Beetle as the Beetle migrated its platform to several models while the 500 only had a few body styles throughout its run.  Also the air-cooled engine was a 479 cc. two-cylinder motor that can only muster an estimated 50 horsepower through a 3-speed manual transmission.  Following the lead of the Austin Mini later on it offered high-performance models branded by the Abarth line, yet the engine was still air cooled and small, but this time based on a motorcycle engine.  Eventually it was time to grow up and the 500 would end production in 1975, before being revived in 2007 as a new front-wheel drive model.

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This bright red Kinsmart version looks like an Abarth model with its sporty red paint and side silver stripes, but instead it's just a typical 500 model.  The front has round headlights in chrome rings above signal lights and a center silver bar with small grille and Fiat logo and a black Euro plate just below.  The details are simple on this car, yet it is very large for such a small car (I estimated it's more close to 1/30th scale).  The 4-spoke hubcap wheels look very proper on this car, while the rear has tri-colored taillights in a chrome trim surround, a rear trunk with vents for the engine, 500 badge, and another black plate in a square format.  Simple construction is also seen in the base where there is not a whole lot going on, while the roof has a black top area for the sunroof and that panel can pop off to let the sun inside.  Now here's where things get interesting as the interior has a two-tone gray seats on a black floor where both have a gridded pattern.  The front seats are hinged at the front to allow them to tilt up for access to the rear seat.  Very neat!  The dashboard is very basic with three-spoke steering wheel, detailed gauges, and a shifter.  It's plain, but efficient.  Despite the size this is one very nicely done Fiat 500 by Kinsmart.

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Ford Ka

On the other end of the spectrum Ford of Europe was looking to make a new small city car that was stylish and based on the new oval styling theme across Ford.  That new car would be called the Ka.  The Ka was based on the Ford Fiesta platform but with different styling based on the Ghia Saetta show car.  The ovid shapes worked quite well for this hatchback car, carrying the theme to inside the car's interior.  The 1.3L I-4 was rated below 100 horsepower and dated back to the Ford Anglia period, even with the 5-speed manual transmission it was too weak for a car that also had great handling characteristics.  A new line of Duratec motors resolved that issue in 2002, along with body-colored bumpers for those who hated the gray bumper look.  For more performance and drop top fun came from the StreetKa, based on the show car of a similar name.  The model was wider with different rear styling and a slight engine upgrade from the original hatchback.  The second-genenration kept the rounded look, but with a front-end more closely aligned with the Fiesta.  The third-generation went on its own, but Ford familiar look with five-door hatch and four-door sedan now offered.

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Just like the 500 this Kinsmart Ka is rather large, even more so than the 500.  The gray bumpers are shown against the dark green paint with more modern multi-spoke wheels (the right-rear one on my tester was not pressed in properly so it sticks out of the bodywork a bit).  The front has round headlights with signal lights that arch with the flow of the center black grille.  The bumper also houses the Ka license plate.  On the sides the fenders wrap around the wheels with a silver stripe to accent the shape of the car.  The rear has taillights that follow the contour of the bumpers, a round trunk latch, and another Ka plate.  The base underneath is not the best showing an improper rear-wheel drive layout for a front-wheel drive car.  Thankfully the hood opens up to engine bay area in chrome with the detailed engine block, air box, and fluid resovoir's.  The interior has seating for four in round seats with the rear seat stitting high to clear the pullback motor.  The dashboard has a conventional small-car look of the 1990's with a three-spoke steering wheel, center radio and HVAC controls, shifter and parking brake on the console, and the door panels lack inner panels yet show the round pod panel that houses the speaker and window controls.  Not terribly exciting, but very neat in a few area's.  These are two large Kinsmart small cars that offer a few features that no other Kinsmart model has yet to offer.

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