Open air Fiat 500 introduced by Castagna Milano image

If we judge by the latest developments in the design studio business, you might say the sector is heading towards disaster – see Pininfarina’s almost certain sale towards India’s Mahindra&Mahindra.

But there are still smaller design studios trying to make a living, even as their share of the market has continuously diminished because of the decision by automakers to mostly source new vehicle and concept designs internally to their own, fully-fledged design units. One of those smaller design studios that still makes a living is Milan-based Castagna Milano which is gearing up for the upcoming summer heat – with a stylish and funky convertible based on that retro model that today represents the Fiat brand – the 500 model. The 500 actually represents the Fiat brand not only because of its iconic image, but also because it appears it will soon be the only nameplate left in the range. Fortunately, it has numerous declinations – the “normal” 500, the cabrio 500C, the multipurpose 500L and the very fashionable 500X small crossover.

Speaking of the 500C, the Castagna Milano version is called the 500C Ischia, and the vehicle looks like a beach buggy – it has no doors and enough space for a 2+2 arrangement, with the seats wrapped in retro leather upholstery. The customers also get wooden panels, quad tailpipes and a lowered suspension. Naturally finished in red, the 500 C Ischia has under the hood the well-known 0.9-liter TwinAir Turbo power mill that delivers 105 PS (77 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 145 Nm (107 lb-ft) of torque.