In the 1920ies Fiat was known as a very conservative Company. Its designs were often the result of excessive prudence rather than lack of creativity by its engineers. Such a behaviour should not be completely blamed, as Fiat knew well that something innovative is not always understood by buyers. Despite this attitude would change in the 1930ies with the introduction of the 1500 and the 500 Topolino but, in order to contrast the effects of the 1929 crisis, in 1933 Fiat released the 518, the successor of the 514. Determined by a conservative layout and influenced by the economic crisis, it was the Company's only model to cover the medium-high range offering of motorcars. Left alone to substitute prestigious cars like the six cylinder 522 and the 515, it was the only "bridge" between the economical 508 Balilla and the more high end medium-high level vehicles.
The name which was chosen was "Ardita", meaning "the daring one", a name which had to reflect the radical nationalist spirit of the era. It was offered in two chassis variants, the C (standing for Corto, the 2700mm short wheel base), and the L (or Lungo with a 3000 mm long wheel base). Each had its own specific engines variants of the Tipo 118A, which were all inline fours with side-valve: the C had the 1.756cc, otherwise known as the 1750 version and the L had the 1.944cc also called the 2000. The configurations that were obtainable on the Ardita chassis were numerous, and this included also sporty variants, like the 518 S Ardita 2000. Production continued until 1938 and after 10.000 examples built.