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The Fiat 500 Offshore - The Littlest Big Winner at Miami

Fiat 500 mini boat
The Fiat 500 Offshore had everyone's attention at MIBS / Photo- BoatBlurb

Going to the Miami International Boat Show is a transcendent experience for most boaters.

Big boats, small boats, medium-sized boats, classic boats, futuristic boats, accessories, accoutrements, and everything else you can imagine that has buoyancy is there to behold. It's also the place where the big names in the industry make a statement. This year saw huge moves from Regal with their new flagship, Yamaha wowed the entire city with their hydrogen-powered outboard, Boston Whaler kept their place atop the heap with the Conquest 365, and Bayliner connected to a huge market segment by introducing pilothouse and explorer boats. To put it another way, it's hard to stand out from the crowd. It's even harder when you're small.

That's why it was amusing, albeit well-deserved, to see a small company named CarOffshore become the proverbial belle of the Miami ball. They were shown by the 1 Oceans Yacht Group.

CarOffshore is based outside Naples, Italy and offers a converted Fiat 500 sedan as a miniaturized dayboat. The genius idea is the work of Italian entrepreneur Antonio Pietro Maria Galasso, who obtained a licensing agreement from the Fiat Licensing Office and Fiat Style Center to build the boat. The reconfigured vessel is 15' long (4.74 m) with a 5'6" (1.7 m) beam. The modified tri-hull design and features a 100 hp Mercury outboard painted to match the boat, LED lighting, a bilge pump, a digital dashboard, complete stereo system, fog lights, a bilge pump, and an optional sunshade.

The company says that naturally only 500 units will be produced to coincide with the model name. Their motto for the unique car-boat hybrid is "The 500 of the Seas."

In essence, a standard Fiat 500 body is bolted to the trimaran hull and then modified to accommodate aquatic amenities. It weighs only 1200 lbs (550 kg), so with up to 115 horsepower available as an option it won't be a slouch. Other iterations have been built with a 40 hp for more recreational cruising.

According to their website, it can reach top speeds of 24 mph (39 km/h), which is no joke for a vessel of that size and with room for up to four passengers.

The interior is your standard issue Fiat 500 automotive design, but the components and materials have been tweaked to marine-grade for their inevitable exposure to the elements. The roof has been removed (although a canopy is optional), and the rear bench seat is removed in lieu of dual lounge seats for added comfort (and for hanging on if you're in the 100 hp+ version).

The interior seating is made of real leather, while the metal components are stainless steel. Teak decking is quintessentially the right move for the flooring, and a marine-grade windshield means it won't wreck your hair.

To help accentuate the automotive-marine overlay, the boat even has proper rounded headlights and rearview mirrors. Hey, nobody wants to hit the dock, especially with a car. It also places half-wheel arches on the sidewalls of the hull to maintain the automotive aesthetic.

If you're really keen to "try before you buy," the boats have been a huge hit in their native Italy where you can rent them for cruising around the Amalfi Coast. They even offer guided tours with a skipper and offer different packages including "La Dolce Vita" sunset tour, a "romantic speed tour" of the Amalfi coast, and a "vintage wedding proposal" option.

Prices for tours range from a modest $160 USD up to $430 USD for a tour experience that lasts about 1.5 hours, up to $1300 USD if you'd like to propose to your partner from the back seat of a Fiat 500 overlooking the Italian coastline.

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