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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gaddafi Had an Electric Fiat 500 Convertible

This is a Fiat 500C.

This is an electric Fiat 500C they found in Gaddafi's palace. It is Libya green. Gaddafi was said to like electric vehicles.

Lulu wants to buy a Fiat 500 convertible. I found this story. It is funny because Libyan dictator Quaddafi had an electric one specially made for him.

It’s a story that seems stranger than fiction. Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, the on-the-run disputed ruler of Libya and undisputed despot, as it turns out, has an interest in cars, and in particular electric cars.

Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reports that Gaddafi’s vehicle fleet, discovered by rebels after they captured his deserted Bab al-Azizia compound in the suburbs of Tripoli, comprised many electric vehicles and included a unique, custom-built pure electric Fiat 500, similar to the one pictured.

The one-off electric €100,000 (£88,000) 500 was created by Castagna Milano, an Italian coachbuilder. It seems they were unaware of the identity of the customer when the initial order came through via an intermediary in 2009, but there were a few clues when the required specification came in (as translated by Google):

“…on the left upright, a back-lit image of the Lion of the Desert…on the A-pillar on the right, a circle with the symbolic representation of the Libyan society. On the nose, instead of the Fiat brand, a logo with the black silhouette of Africa, Libya highlighted in green (the particular is made of malachite) and three-color books above all.”

In fact, the car was ordered by a member of the Gaddafi family as a gift for the leader.

Amusingly, the “Lion of the Desert” is not an actual lion but in fact the nickname given to Omar Mukhtar, a man who led the native resistance against the Italian colonisation of Libya from 1912. The Italians captured and hanged Mukhtar in 1931.

So a member of the Gadaffi clan ordered an Italian coachbuilder to create a custom electric version of an Italian car and commissioned them to include a picture of a man who fought against the Italians for nearly 20 years before being executed at their hands. They may be bloody tyrants but you’ve got to admit that shows a wry sense of humour.

As for the performance of the car, it reportedly has two massive electric batteries giving it a range of 260km (160 miles) and the 34kW (46bhp) motor gives it a healthy top speed of 160kph (99 mph).

After delivery to Libya via France, the client paid up in full, with Castagna Milano receiving a few calls from Gaddafi’s German garage mechanic for advice on servicing and maintenance over the last two years. According to Corriere Della Sera, the Italian company asked for a photo of the owner at the wheel of the car, but nothing was sent through.

After being seized in Tripoli, the car was photographed being pushed out of Bab al-Azizia by rebels and paraded through the streets of Tripoli. The fate of the car is unclear now it’s in the hands of the rebels, but we hope it is preserved in its current state – it’s quite a piece of history.

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