An amazing coincidence

Appearing on a U.S. sales chart for the first time in more than 25 years, Italy's Fiat brand hit a number that was almost too perfect to be believed.

During the month of March, Fiat sold -- trumpets please -- exactly 500 copies of its 500 small car. That's no April Fools' joke: Fiat sold five hundred 500s. Ralph Kisiel, Chrysler Group spokesman, said the number was a coincidence.

An amazing coincidence at that; dare I say a coincidenza stupefacente?

Some of the cars sold last month were special Prima Edizione (first edition) models, which were presold to 500 customers who plunked down deposits on them last summer. But Chrysler doesn't count them sold until the customer completes the payment, and not all of those special Prima Edizione cars have been delivered. That means quite a few of the cars registered as March sales were regular production models.

Just 30 of Chrysler's planned 130 Fiat Studios -- that's what the company's calling the dealerships -- were open as of April 1. So the early bird dealers get first crack at production models rolling off the line at Chrysler's Toluca, Mexico factory.

So for now, the diminutive Cinquecento is a pretty exclusive item.

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