The car was designed by Dante Giacosa, (January 3, 1905 - March 31, 1996) an Italian car designer. Dante Giacosa, born in Rome, where his father was undertaking military service, Giacosa's family roots were in Neive on the southern edge of Piemonte. He studied engineering at the Polytechnic University of Turin until 1927. After completing his compulsory military service he joined Fiat in 1928, at first working on military vehicles and then in the aero engine division. The director of the aero-engine division was Tranquillo Zerbi, designer of Grand Prix cars for Fiat. In 1933 when work commenced on the Fiat 500, the director of the aero-engine division was Antonio Fessia. He had sufficient confidence to entrust the design of all the mechanical components of the car including the chassis to Giacosa. Giacosa was engineering manager at Fiat by 1937 and became director of the engineering division of Fiat by 1950. He retired from his full time position with Fiat in 1970, but retained close association with the company courtesy of a position which translates as "Consulting Engineer to Fiat's Presidency and General Management and a Company's Ambassador with National and International Organizations". Following his retirement he wrote several volumes of memoirs concerning his professional life. He passed away in Turin in 1996.
Today his legacy continues with the launched of a longer and heavier front wheel drive car, the Fiat Nuova 500.