FIAT Club America
cover photo by Nathan Williams, East Tennessee
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FLU Officers John Montgomery president@FIATclubamerica.com (770) 932-2380 President Thad Kirk vp@FIATclubamerica.com Vice President Tim Beeble secretary@FIATclubamerica.com Secretary Scott Hill treasurer@FIATclubamerica.com Treasurer
FLU Board Kevin Barnett
Volunteers Mike Bouse membership@FIATclubamerica.com Membership Coordinator Chris Layton email@example.com FCA Forum Brett Melancon support@FIATclubamerica.com Website Coordinator
RICAMBI Brett Melancon RICAMBI@FIATclubamerica.com Editor/Publisher Larry Smith Editor
FIAT Club America
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From the Prez
Our club celebrated a great 30th anniversary in Long Island, NY for FIAT FreakOut 2013! by John Montgomery, FIAT Lancia Unlimited President
The hundreds of wonderful memories of that weekend are still fresh, especially after looking at the photos here in RICAMBI and online at the FIAT Club America web and Facebook pages. I have always said that going to FFO each year is like a big adventure, where we push aside almost all of the other obligations of our busy lives and simply indulge our Italian car hobby. It was a weekend where all sense and reason took a backseat and we just got together to have fun with our cars and our friends. Driving “con brio” to places we have never been, living large, staying up late, talking FIATs 24-7, meeting new folks, buying stuff, perhaps winning an award! Yep, FFO weekend had it all. As a Pittsburgh native and nearly converted “Southern Boy,” it’s a little out of character to friends and family to drive all night to Long Island for an action-packed weekend. It certainly is a long way from the former Confederacy, cornbread and sweet tea. Sam Germana and the entire FFO13 event team did a fabulous job in every way! Special thanks to Kathy Germana for her heroic work as registrar this year as well as Brett Melancon for his work with the visuals, our awesome Membership Director Mike Bouse, Tim Beeble, John Jacob, Thad Kirk; so many others along with FIAT USA and our sponsoring vendors that made it all happen! We even had the FIAT 500L designer Fabrizio Vacca who flew in from Torino, Italy to make a live presentation. Check it out at http://www.FIAT500usa.com/search/label/FIAT%20Design. Considering our 30-year history, FFO13 at the Hauppauge, NY Hyatt Regency hotel was an emotional time full of passion for our cars and all things FIAT. The weekend started with a very enthusiastic Thursday midnight run through downtown Manhattan, powered by a pack of stinging Abarths (and a Multipla) led by sponsor Eurocompulsion, LLC. It must have been a surreal experience for Times Square pedestrians to see this group blasting through the Big Apple's backstreets. Great fun and not a scratch besides the pavement! We had our traditional Friday night opening party, plenty of organized drive time, and wonderful socializing, as well as the awesome Saturday concorso at Westbury Gardens where we had nearly 200 cars on the field. Tim Beeble did an awesome job as scoring director while Brett Melancon, Nathan Williams and Larry Smith got all the show photos! The concorso lunch from Piccolo's Italian Cuisine on Long Island was in my opinion the very best lunch we have ever had at an FFO. Italian food at its best! Thanks to Mark and Nancy Cantamessa for setting it up! Think I am still wearing some of that meal!
Saturday evening’s social time and banquet was a fun-filled night of presentations and awards for all the show winners. The supportive FIAT USA Team was once again at our event for the fourth year in a row as we continue to work together to make the FIAT brand a household name to the North American car-buying public. FIAT brand head Jason Stoicevich, 500L and 500e product chief Nicole Longhini and 500L interior designer Fabrizio Vacca along with Head of Communications Ariel Gavalin, Ashley Dudzinsky and club founder Bobb Rayner were in attendance or on the program’s agenda. Thad Kirk and John Jacob (our answer to Hollywood’s Don Pardo) did a great job with the banquet presentation and all of our A/V and logistics needs. Club founder Bobb Rayner also spoke to the membership with his great perspective that traces the club linage all the way back from it’s day one. Many of you saw Damon and Michele Kane as well as Brian Benson at FFO13 this year. For all of our newbies…Damon was the fellow in the wheelchair who has been fighting ALS over the last three years. Brian brought Damon’s FFO12 “Best of Show” 1986 Bertone X1/9 to the event. This year Damon’s wife Michele was honored with our Helle` Nice Award. She has set a wonderful example for us all in her dedication to her spouse in these very difficult years of Damon’s illness. As many of you know, we lost our dear friend Damon just one month after the FFO13 show. Our vendors led by IAP’s Mark Davis, combined with our membership contributed $1019 to the ALS Philadelphia Chapter in honor of Damon Kane. He will be greatly missed yet his memory and love will always be with us. Sunday morning’s raffle prize breakfast was an awesome way to start the last day of FFO. We once again had a ton of prizes; one of the best was the sponsor Eurocompulsion’s BMX bike that was won by Brayden Brannon, Mid-West Bayless’s Matt and Marnie Brannon’s son. Wow, he was one happy camper! Pretty sure that Dad will just have to give him his very own X1/9 to get a bigger smile! (Hint, hint!) The last drive of the weekend went to Sagamore Hill and the home of another historical US President. Over the last three years we have visited the homes of Presidents Jackson, Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt. Every FFO has something for everyone! Next year we will be going to Chicago so mark your calendar now for July 10-13, 2014! Many of you know that I am a FIAT Abarth owner and also the Studio Manager for a FIAT dealership. My studio is one of well over 200 locations in North America that sell the new cars. I am blessed to have a day job that closely aligns with my FIAT hobby as it gives a very interesting perspective. There is no continued on page 27
The News If I’ve learned anything from being a car fanatic for over three decades and working in the auto industry for fifteen years, I’ve learned that both the commercial and enthusiast aspects of automotive endeavors are extremely dynamic and unpredictable. The first FIAT FreakOut was held three months after FIAT officially announced its departure from the North American market, yet today, despite a rocky start, we see a viable network of FIAT Studios selling brand new cars. Still, the commercial climate remains as volatile as ever. US and Canadian FIAT dealers haven’t been having the easiest go of it in terms of sales and profitability, despite the addition of the ABARTH and 500L into the FIAT lineup. US sales dropped a great deal in September of this year, and the company has recently fallen out of the top ten in sales in the European market, due mostly to weak performance in its home market. Despite these setbacks, demand for the 500L appears to remain strong, based on my personal communications with a good number of FIAT studio managers. Remember, too, that FIAT proved the naysayers wrong by initially equaling and at times surpassing the sales success of Mini, the “standard” to which FIAT was being compared. Wait long enough, and like the weather, the commercial climate will change yet again.
Bobb Rayner Delaware Valley
As I compose this article, I’m sitting in my home office on a crisp fall day, gazing out the window upon my three X1/9s parked under their covers in the bright sunshine, framed by the autumn colors of the forest trees just a few meters away. The thought just came to me that my household currently owns a total of four FIATs, the most I’ve ever possessed at one time. Truth be told, one of the four is my wife Jennifer’s 500 ABARTH, the three others titled to me. We have both “vintage” and “contemporary” Italian machines at our disposal, and after a twenty-five year hiatus, we now can add more new FIAT cars to our fleet if we wish, with the potential opportunity to purchase Alfa Romeos in the future. It’s a great time to be a FIAT Freak! Things looked pretty bleak for FIAT enthusiasts way back in July of 1983 when I put together the first “national” gathering that became known as FIAT FreakOut,”so perhaps you can imagine my delight these thirty years later. Ironically, one might think that the onset of “new” FIATs has shifted the focus of the FIAT enthusiast community in general and our club in particular towards the new generation of FIATs. However, the number of club members claiming to own “vintage” cars AND the number of “vintage” FIATs and Lancias that show up at club events serve to disprove that impression.
Of course, one of the difficulties FIAT studios initially faced was the fact that they could offer only one model in a variety of guises. The model line has since been augmented by the 500L, and more models are on the way, including the rumored 500X, which could be a small “crossover” vehicle sporting four-wheel or all-wheel drive. Several months ago I queried a FIAT employee from Italy (who shall remain nameless to protect his job!) about the progress of the 500X. His response was a look of surprise as he uttered “You’re not supposed to know about that!” Indeed. The automotive press is now reporting that the 500X and a Jeep variant could go be on sale in the USA by sometime in the year 2015. The on-again/off-again return of Alfa Romeo to North America looks to be “on” again, possibly as early as the spring of 2014 with the arrival of the celebrated Alfa Romeo 4C sports car. An internet search will reveal plenty of videos showing the 4C moving about the European landscape, some of which are very entertaining. Makes me long for my two Alfa 164s I enjoyed driving for so many years. Roughly one-half of all the new motor vehicles sold in Europe have diesel engines, yet in North America, this sensible and immediately-available way to power passenger cars economically and efficiently (read “environmentally positive”) is scarcely available. To prove the viability of diesel engine technology, a Turin-to-Paris run in several FIAT 500L “Living” vehicles, powered by 1.6-liter MultiJet turbo-diesel powerplants, ran the distance of nearly 800 kilometers without refueling. That’s nearly five-hundred miles, yielding approximately 71 MPG! The sophisticated diesel injection system, co-developed by Bosch, can deliver up to eight injection pulses per cycle of each cylinder. As I mention in the beginning, it’s a good time to be a FIAT Freak! The Views I can’t help noticing that there’s been a significant change in the attitudes and perspectives of Italian car enthusiasts within the past year. After FIAT fans were basically ignored and derided for more than a quarter century, I recently have had several people contact me to ask how they can find a FIAT Spider for sale! Amongst FIAT Club continued on page 27
photography by Nathan Williams, East Tennessee Midnight Manhattan Tour
IAT FreakOut 2013, the 30th annual convention of FIAT Club America, is in the history books. We saw cars and enthusiests
from all over. We even had a guest speaker, Fabrizio Vacca, from the FIAT Design Center in Turin, Italy. As they say, the FreakOut is a time to talk FIAT, eat, drive FIAT, talk FIAT, hang out, relax, talk FIAT, drive FIAT, meet new friends and old, talk FIAT, have big parking lot parties late into the night, again talking FIAT. FIAT FreakOut is an unforgettable weekend enjoying your car along with the company of friends and family. 5 FIATclubAmerica.com
FIAT Freakout 2013 by Sam Germana, Long Island
Blake & the Multipla from Lane Motor Museum
And so it was this July on Long Island. The parking lot at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Long Island began filling with Italian machinery late Wednesday and early Thursday. In a parking area just for the FIAT club, the jelly bean colors of our automotive toys shone in the summer sun. FIAT, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and more. Two-seater sports cars, family cars, old and new, concours and daily driver, side by side. Forty year-old cars driven hundreds of miles. Museum quality autos trailered in. All there with owners who share a similar passion–cars–andItalian ones to boot. Out first event was Thursday morning. Leaving the hotel and heading east, we took a route to Long Island’s North Fork. This is a bucolic east end. More farms and wineries than the glitz and glamour of “The Hamptons.” A caravan of FIATS and Alfas enjoyed traffic free highways and scenic back roads to Pindar Vineyards, in Peconic. After sampling (in moderation) their fine wines, it was off to do some more driving before returning to the hotel. By Thursday afternoon, our vendor sales/ registration area was up and running. “Goodie bags” supplied by Bridgestone, Hagerty, FIAT and Autoricambi were filled with programs and favors for attendees.
Old and New
Friday brought a day of relaxation, local drives and our main kickoff event: the Friday night welcome party. Hyatt hosted us in their beautiful Terrace Room. We enjoyed food, drink and each other’s company while we listened to a live band. Announcements were made pertaining to the biggest day, Saturday. Bright and early on Saturday, we caravanned to Old Westbury Gardens. This historic site served as a beautiful backdrop to our annual concorso. Over 150 cars, from Ferrari to FIAT and almost every other Italian marque was on hand. A catered Italian picnic lunch was judged to be award-winning by the crowd. The summer heat was moderated by ice cold Pellegrino. The afternoon was a time to relax before the Saturday night banquet at the Hyatt Regency. The program included a taped statement to the club from Jason Stoicevich, Head of Fiat Brand N.A. at Chrysler Group LLC. In person was Nicole Longhini, Fiat N.A. Brand Manager, to tell us of news from FIAT. Keynote speaker was Fabrizio Vacca, part of the FIAT design team in Turin. He discussed the evolution of the new FIAT 500L and its roots in the vintage cars we love. As always, FIAT Club America President John Montgomery was the master of ceremonies, joined by the founder of the FIAT *
FIAT Freakout 2013 FreakOut, board member Bobb Rayner. Bobb has been to every one of our 30 FIAT FreakOuts. Speaking now in a banquet hall at the Hyatt, he recalled how the dinner for the first FreakOut was decided by looking for a place to go in the local phone book. After the traditional trivia contest, it was on to the car show awards. Classes for all cars, including “Best in Show” and the “Most Challenged” were included. Proud owners colleced their trophies. Afterwards, off to the “parking lot jam.” In the warm summer night, participants drifted to the parking lot for the club’s version of a tailgate party. Sunday morning brought breakfast at the Hyatt, as well as the silent auction and raffle prizes. ALS of Philadelphia was chosen as the charity to be the recipient of part of the proceeds. A final caravan headed west to Sagamore Hill, summer home of Teddy Roosevelt. Then time to pack up, say arrivederci, and take the show on the road. The 30th Annual FIAT FreakOut on Long Island was a great success. But, FIAT Club America strives to make each subsequent FreakOut the best ever. And we do it all with volunteers, right in our own club. It was announced that the 2014 FreakOut will be hosted by our Chicago chapter, July 10-13, 2014 in St. Charles, IL. Please check back soon for the latest information on FFO 2014. It’s never too early to start planning ahead. As good as the 30th FreakOut was, we are planning for the 31st to be even better. Every year, FIAT FreakOut founder Bobb Rayner quotes the late, great automotive journalist, David E. Davis Jr:
The Germans invented the automobile The Japanese made it affordable The Americans made it a disposable item but, the ITALIANS taught it to dance & sing!
See you at FIAT FreakOut 2014 in Chicago!
photography by Nathan Williams
Nathan becomes a FIAT Freak
My name is Nathan Williams, and I am a senior in high school. This year's event was the first FIAT FreakOut I have ever attended. My only response is WOW! I spent the week with my friend Blake Melancon, his dad Brett and friend Nathan Williams, Knoxville, TN Larry Smith driving back roads in the FIAT Multipla to get to the FIAT FreakOut. It was one of the best weeks of my entire life. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. I felt more welcomed from these people then some of the people I share the same blood with. The kicker is the only thing we have in common is the same car manufacturer. From watching people drink martinis at the FIAT banquets to talking about all the FIAT problems we have in common till 1am in the parking lot, it strangely felt like family. That was the half of it; the actual day of the car show was amazing. I saw FIATs that I didn’t even know existed. There was no shortage...I saw old 500s, new Abarths, Spiders, Dinos, and over 15 different X1/9s from which I gathered ideas to improve my own X1/9. There were even the occasional rich snobby guys with the Ferraris. I thought I loved my car to an unnecessary extent, until I met some of the people at the FreakOut that would spend a good three hours washing, waxing, and polishing their FIATs. It was great to be a part of this show and experience. I will never forget what Lee Putman said to me, ”Welcome to the brotherhood.” That statement will stick with me forever. Editor's note: Nathan Williams is responsible for much of the FIAT FreakOut photography in this issue of RICAMBI.
X1/9s were well represented
Bobb and Jen in the Abarth
Vendor area at the hotel
FIATclubAmerica.com 8 panoramic photography by Brett Melancon
by Stuart Light, Long Island To my knowledge it has been more than 30 years since a marquee club held a national convention here on Long Island. In the early 1980s I attended a Triumph Owners Club National Convention with a TR7 owner. Only a year or two later that organization disappeared along with the presence of 9 FIATclubAmerica.com
Triumph automobiles on the roads in the USA. Many performance marquis who might have wanted to have a national gathering here on Long Island needed access to a race track for competition events, but unfortunately the only one in the area, the Bridgehampton Race Circuit no longer exists, and the former 512+ acre property now consists of very high-priced homes, a country club and a golf course. Earlier this year I was contacted by the local FIAT Club America chapter and was invited to attend a meeting at the Hyatt Regency. I figured what did I have to lose? I made the trip with fellow Alfa Romeo/FIAT owner Vic Cerami to see what it was all about. We sat down with Sam Germana, the local FCA chapter “Head Honcho” and club members mostly from Long Island and Westchester. We discussed what it would take to put together a national convention referred to as a FIAT FreakOut to be held only six months later. It didn’t sound difficult as long as we worked together, made individual contributions and worked as a team. I’ve been around the automobile industry and the Italian car hobby since the 1970s. It was therefore easy for me to pull out names of contacts who might come in handy. When I heard sponsors were needed, I immediately provided Sam with Laura Hingle’s phone number. Within a short time she and her employer Novak Motors signed on. As a local business just a few miles away from the Hyatt Regency, they felt the connection with the FIAT FreakOut and FCA was
panoramic photography by Brett Melancon
worthwhile. When it was mentioned that a source was needed for the concours luncheon, no problem. Tommy from Piccolo Ristorante was eager to work with the committee and put together what everybody thought was a spectacular luncheon. The months seemed to fly by, and before I knew it I had registered and sent in my check to attend the concours, the concours luncheon and of course the Saturday evening gala dinner. As the date for FFO approached, my biggest concern was the weather. It was the hottest summer we had seen here in over ten years but at least it didn’t rain. Just two years ago we had a summer without any 90 degree days…not the case this year. I would have liked to have driven my 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider to the Hyatt Regency, but due to the 95+ degree weather, I elected to use my FIAT 500 Pop for the Hyatt Regency runs and my Alfa Romeo GTV-6 with a working AC unit to the concours. I spent most of Thursday taking photos of arriving FIATs, photos of cars departing on the tour to Pindar Winery and working with the convention committee. I thought it was a wise move for Sam to move the concours to an earlier time, 9AM, so the event could end a little sooner and let everybody get back to the hotel before any inclement weather arrived. For me the trip from my home was less than half an hour. I guess a few heads did turn as I entered with my Alfa Romeo GTV-6–not the usual Alfa Romeo that people are accostomed
to seeing. The grounds at Westbury Gardens are spectacular, large enough for the Greater NY Region/AACA to hold a 580 car show there in June. It was great to see the folks from FIAT of Larchmont. It’s a small world; it was at their Alfa Romeo dealership in December 1986 that I took delivery of the GTV-6 I own to this day, 27 years later. Working with such an expansive property made it easier for the concours committee to work with the incoming cars. There was plenty of room to move cars around, place them into their own area and of course take the panoramic photo of the entire field. Lunch was spectacular, Piccolo Ristorante is my favorite Italian restaurant. I was thrilled that everybody I spoke to loved the food. As a matter of fact, later that afternoon back at the hotel when I called Tommy to thank him for the great luncheon, people were taking the phone out of my hand to personally thank him. After the concours, I traveled on local roads to get home. I unpacked the Alfa Romeo, changed and drove my FIAT 500 back to the Hyatt Regency for dinner. I enjoyed sitting with FIAT owners plus fellow Alfist. It was unfortunate that I didn’t have the opportunity to speak to anybody from FIAT Corporate. I would have liked to discuss their future plans for advertising FIATs plus Alfa Romeos in the USA, but that’s something to write about in a future article. FIATclubAmerica.com 10
FIAT COURTS ITS ‘FREAKS’ by Stefano Salimbeni
For 30 years they have been faithful to the brand, despite it having abandoned the US market. Now with the United States back in the Turin company’s viewfinder as a main target, the numerous members of FIAT Club America serve as a collective testimonial – definitely more credible and convincing than TV ads. Even in Italy it is rare to see, all together in the same parking lot, dozens of 124 Spiders, X1/9s and 128 Abarths. Of course if that parking lot belongs to a fancy hotel in the woods of Long Island, the scene becomes – to say the least – surreal, especially if inside in the ballroom, the owners spend the evening singing the praises of their “rare jewels” and the company that built them (with videos, Powerpoint presentations and trivia contests) as well as conferring awards upon each other for the best kept cars – divided by category, model and even production year. All this and more happened in Happauge, a suburb some 40 minutes away from New York City at the 30th FIAT FreakOut a national gathering of FIAT owners, attended this year by more than 200 crews from all over the United States. Up until a couple years ago the cars were all vintage models and it could not have been otherwise. The “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino” abandoned the American market in March 1983. In July of that same year, the first FreakOut was held in Pocono, Pennsylvania, home of the famous oval race track. Bobb Rayner, today a seemingly happy guy in his fifties, took care of it. At the time he was the owner of a X1/9 Bertone and a 128 in search for someone to share his passion for this strange (or freakish even – an adjective that makes the members rather proud ) vehicles. “There were 12 of us,” Rayner recalls with a touch of understandable emotion in his voice. “Until then, there had only been a small club the members of which received a quarterly magazine, and that was about it. Nobody had ever put a meet together. The following year a few more people came and little by little, we
continued to grow, despite the lack of official repair shops, spare parts, etcetera… Today we are a club with many members who, when they meet they feel like being at a family reunion. A few of them even got married during our gatherings. In short, this is a large family united by the FIAT brand, to which they remained faithful from a distance for a quarter of a century. They certainly do not go unnoticed by those who are now trying to revamp the brand on this side of the Atlantic. “It is incredible. There is passion here, and there is knowledge as well; the cars are kept like true jewels. I really was not expecting to find this,” says an evidently surprised Fabrizio Vacca, interior designer of the new 500L, sent here from Turin, both for the occasion and the launch of the new models. In fact, Mr. Vacca came to share the insights of his job with the perfect audience both in terms of attention – given the quasi maniacal attention to details shared by participants to car meets all over the world – and from a marketing standpoint. It must be said that since its return to America exactly two years ago, FIAT launched an aggressive advertising campaign made of costly and creative primetime TV spots. Some have been celebrity driven featuring Jennifer Lopez, Charlie Sheen and even Mr. Paul Revere himself, who in a particularly clever commercial shouts “the Italians are coming!” right before a squadron of 500s storms a colonial village transforming it something like Milan during fashion week, complete with a disco club and espresso bar. At the same time, however, the company showed its interest in this strange club by supporting its initiatives – even financially, assures club president John Montgomery. “For us this car is not an appliance or a simple means of transportation. It is an object of love,” explains John, who brought his brand new 500 here all the way from Atlanta, Georgia. “In a way, we have kept the flame alive. The simple fact that 30 years later our cars are still on the road is the best quality testimony continued on page 27
Demise of another FIAT by Bob Reid, East Tennessee
V-8 which I purchased for only $350. However, I could not afford to keep both the FIAT and the Sunbeam, and I much preferred the ride and styling of the FIAT, so I sold the Tiger for a profit of $900. My 2300S (number 114BS103981) was a 1963 model that I bought in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1976 when I lived there. I bought it at an import car repair/sales shop where I had my After working for four years as an engineer, I received my FIAT 124 Spider in for some work. I was told the 2300S had Ph.D. in 1969 from Southern Methodist University in been brought over from France by a doctor and I seem to Dallas, Texas, and started my first teaching position in the recall the previous title was in his name, Roux. I found a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the map of Switzerland in the trunk. University of Tennessee. I then decided to purchase a sports My history with the car is that when I bought it, there was car. I had seen the new FIAT 124 Spider and much admired quite a bit of rust on the sills and rear quarter panels but I the car. However, in 1969, I could not afford one but did intended to restore it. I drove it from Ohio to Michigan, and find a white 1966 FIAT 1500 roadster which I bought and it sat in my father-in-law's garage for a few years. I moved enjoyed very much for a few years. I then sold the 1500 to back to Tennessee in 1977 and, in 1979, I drove the car from Michigan to Tennessee and started to try to fix the purchase a green 1968 FIAT 124 Spider. While working in Houston on the Alaskan Pipeline in rust. In 1980, I sold my 124 Spider and bought a 1973 Jaguar the summer of 1973, I saw a somewhat neglected 1969 blue E-Type V-12 roadster, a car I had always wanted. The 124 Spider at a good price and purchased that one also. FIAT 2300S project was put on hold. (I lived on eight acres However, on returning to Tennessee in the fall, I was of- on a mountain ridge, so I had plenty of room but the car was fered and closed the deal on a pristine 1970 red 124 spider stored outside). I later heard that the purchaser of the 124 fitted with mag wheels and a toneau cover. I then sold the 68 Spider had left his Doberman Pincher in the car, and the dog ate the interior. A sad ending for a very nice car. and the 69. I later bought a fiberglass hardtop for the car. The red 124 spider attracted a lot of admirers, particularly In 1982, I was preparing to move to Texas, and I had a with the top down and the toneau fitted. A few months buyer ready to take the 2300S. He took it for a final test later, I came upon a 1965 Sunbeam Tiger with the 260 Ford drive down my long steep driveway and I heard a crash. He Editor’s note: This story was submitted back in 2003 when I heard stories about a FIAT 2300 sitting in the woods in Knoxville. The car is long gone but the story of its demise lives on. Bob Reid of Knoxville, Tennessee, very kindly wrote a little story about his ownership of his departed FIAT 2300S and I thought it would make a nice obituary.
* 13 FIATclubAmerica.com
Photo of actual car taken around 2001. The FIAT has long since been gone.
had a low-speed collision with a utility pole. The radiator was destroyed, and the front sheet metal buckled but the engine was not damaged. He had an ankle injury and then sued me for $40,000, because he said the brakes failed and I knew they were bad. I had been driving the car, so I knew the brakes worked. I think he just was not used to the car and lost control. I had to go ahead and move to Texas, and the car was taken to various mechanics to examine the brake system and they could not find anything wrong. He and his lawyer then lowered their demand to $1500, and the insurance company paid him off without admitting liability. I did not have collision insurance on the car so I got nothing.
The potential buyer had recovered fine from the injury. I did not think he was hurt too badly, because he had quickly exited the car after the collision. He later told me this was because when he had been partially thrown into the passenger seat where a large black snake was thrown out from under the seat and was staring him in the eyes. I ended up renting the house so the car was taken back to my property. I leased the house for 18 years to eight different families. When I retired in 2000, after 31 years as a professor, department chairman, and dean at four different universities, I moved from Wisconsin back to the same house in Tennessee. The FIAT 2300S had sat in the woods for the entire 18 years. Around 1995, some vandals, I think the sons of one of my renters, had shot the windows out of the car. Even though the odometer shows less than 94,000 km, there is so much rust now to the main sheet metal that little is usable except perhaps the boot lid. I am stripping off mechanical and electrical parts and other bits to sell or keep, along with the bumpers which were stored off the car, and the remains will be scrapped. Another sad ending to a very nice car.
MOFLO 2013 by Ronald Conlon, Roman Chariots There is no better way to celebrate summer than to get into big burgers and lines at Meer’s our vintage FIATs and meet with old friends. This year we chose to go to Lawton in southwest Oklahoma. Unsettled weather and the out-of-the-way location kept the number rather low, but this was a good event nevertheless. We had perfect weather. Jim Wagner, Csaba and Ben Vandor, Allen and Lynn Lofland, John and Chris Simpson, and Ron Conlon all arrived on Friday evening with FIAT Spiders, five of them. No two were the same color or model year. We had a special parking area at the hotel for convenience and security. The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is one of those must-see locations in Oklahoma. It is southwest of Oklahoma City in a sparsely populated region of the state. The hills are reddish granite that rise above the plains and offer spectacular vistas from the summit. We bypassed the
FIAT Appreciation Day in Edmond
by Ronald Conlon, Roman Chariots
On May 25, 2013, the Roamin’ Chariots mustered a small group to meet up at Edmond Fiat Studio to see the new Abarth models and have a light lunch. Some devastating tornadoes had recently flattened much of Moore. It kept many away and the distance travelers on edge. It turned out to be a pleasant afternoon around the dealership. Mark and Tara who own a nice Spider met with us to join the club. This gave me the excuse to wipe down the paint and change fluids after a winter of only occasional use. The battery had to be getting low as well. Good excuse to get out and meet. 15 FIATclubAmerica.com
Restaurant and instead walked around Medicine Park and ate lunch at the Riverside Café. The carp and ducks kept us entertained. Later we had dinner at CG’s International Cuisine that served cover dishes from Europe and Asia. Then we tailgated at the hotel into the night and watched a biker gang board their stretch limousine and witnessed a drug bust and chase down on Cache Road. So much for quiet small towns.
by Michael Rutenberg, Houston
I have had the bug for several years to organize a regional FIAT/Lancia event to cover an extended weekend in the Hill Country of Texas, which unlike most of the state, is a vast expanse of tall hills and ridges. It is located west of the area between Austin and San Antonio, stretching westward to the Edwards Plateau around San Angelo and is very picturesque. Luckily it also contains a vast array of wonderful, scenic, twisty roads that are a favorite destination of the motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts. I wanted to include the Houston-based Gulf Coast FIAT/Lancia group, as well as the Mo-Flo North Texas groups, as well as anyone else that could make it to the Austin area for the weekend of April 12-14. I also wanted to include any of the local vintage Alfa owners that could join us. The plan was for several events, similar to a mini FreakOut, but without the car show aspect. I didn’t want to dissuade anyone from attending because they didn’t feel their car was nice enough. This was a family-friendly weekend and events would include track time, museum visit, pizza party, driving tour, and an outdoor banquet. I thought if I could gather at least 20 plus cars it would be a good showing and maybe the start of something bigger for the future. After many positive responses, I put the plan into motion. Here is our story: Thursday, April 11, eighteen FIATs, including Spiders, Coupes and a couple of new 500s, descended on the Best Western in Buda, Texas, just south of Austin, to gather for the First Annual FIAT/Lancia Regional Hill Country Tour. Early arrivals made their way to Dan’s Hamburgers restaurant for dinner and a chance to visit with other out-of-town folks. Late arrivals kept streaming in, and the parking lot was abuzz with the trials and tribulations of those that journeyed in from as far away as northern Kansas. I was very pleased that we were able to convince four of the Mo-Flo members to make the trip down from Kansas and Oklahoma and hope they will convince their other members to join us next year. Friday’s activities started with a 4 hour (9am to 1pm) exclusive reservation at the Harris Hill Road Track in San Marcos, just a short drive from our motel. We had a total of 19 cars participat, including some folks from the local area that wanted to “open up” on the track. Harris Hill is a 1.8-mile road track with all kinds of trick turns and changes in elevation, a challenge to even the best drivers. Bo Rivers from Harris Hill 17 FIATclubAmerica.com
gave us about a 30-minute classroom instruction in which he explained the ins and outs of mastering the line of the track and also the safety rules for us to follow. We then lined up, helmets off, for a few parade laps as Bo led us at increasing speeds to get a “feel” for the track. After rearranging the lineup and moving those that wanted to go faster to the front, we were able to make several more laps, again increasing our speeds but no “tire squealing” yet. For those who wanted to go to the next level, helmets were handed out and the real fun began. When all was said and done, there were some pretty broad grins on those who were able to test their prowess on a real track and improve their skill levels. Jeff Scheferman said he put over 86 miles on his Coupe, which would have been at least 47 laps. After the track we had free time to grab some lunch and rest before walking our way to Dick’s Classic Garage in San Marcos. This is a fine museum with at least 80 fine examples of mostly American iron, including one of the few remaining Tucker automobiles. Our group had grown to almost 25 FIATs by then, including some of the local Austin and San Antonio folks. It was awesome to see that many cars parked in front of the museum. We were there until 5pm, and then gathered for a short 30-minute drive to Canyon Lake, where a former FIAT owner, Vince Parziale, was hosting a pizza party for our group at his Parziale’s Pizzaria. It took 18 giant pizzas to satisfy over 50 hungry folks,but what a great time everyone had meeting new FIATsi and enjoying the beautiful spring weather we were so lucky to have. At sunset I led a very tired but full group of car owners back to the motel for more tire kicking and socializing in the parking lot. (see side story) Saturday morning we lined the cars up in front of Christian Brothers Automotive, located in front of the Best Western, for a group shot. I believe there were 27 FIATs in that photo. I was very humbled that we could entice that many folks to our first organized outing and hopefully can do even better next year. At 9:30am sharp we headed out on our morning tour which led us on some beautiful scenic backroads to our destination of Kingsland, just west of Marble Falls. The surprise was that I had prearranged a meeting there with the Austin Alfa group, who had organized a morning drive for their members coming from the other direction. We arrived at Kingsland at 11:30am and met with over 20 Alfa owners in the parking lot of the local
H.E.B. grocery store. Needless to say Kingsland (pop. 6200) had their first Italian car show with almost 50 various and sundry vintage Italian automobiles. We were a hit! Unfortunately it was a short meeting because both groups had lunch destinations to make. Our lunch was at the River City Grill in Marble Falls, where we had the outside deck reserved overlooking LBJ Lake. I warned everyone to eat light, because our final destination was at the West Cave Winery that evening and they were barbequing a pig on an open spit for our group. We headed out for our last drive of the weekend, once again taking the backroads and making a short stop at Spicewood Vineyard. We made it to West Cave Winery & Vineyard at about 5pm, and a few of the folks who couldn’t make the day trip had already arrived. We lined the cars up for a nice photo in front of the vineyard and then settled down to enjoy some fine wine, live music and wonderful pulled pork with all the sides. Our host and winery owner Margaret Fetty had catered to our every need. Over 50 guests, all who had met new friends over the weekend with a common love for all things FIAT, had gathered together for a simply tremendous weekend. I guarantee no one left hungry! At sunset we headed back to Buda for a good night’s rest before our final goodbyes Sunday morning. I have already had several offers to help plan a similar outing for next year, and I already have some ideas on how to make it bigger and better. Thanks go out to Csaba and Ramzi at Auto Ricambi in Ft. Worth and to Michael Keith at Vintage Car Solutions in Houston for their sponsorship of the event. I also want to thank Mark Alspaugh and Roy Nolan for their support, and a very special thanks to my wife Veronica for tagging behind and being the “chase” vehicle in our Yukon with the most important tool in the box – the Trailer Hitch (fortunately it wasn’t used this trip).
Although there were some minor mechanical problems the weekend of our Texas Regional Hill Country weekend, nothing stands out like the story of Kevin Howe. Kevin had some business in Austin the week before our outing, so he decided to take his Spider and then just join us that weekend for our tour. On his trip over from Houston, which is about 150 miles, he started having problems with his brakes. Realizing the brake booster was failing and having a massive vacuum leak with the typical hard pedal symptoms, he decided to try to have the problem fixed before the weekend activities. To his benefit there was a Christian Brothers mechanic/repair shop directly in front of the hotel in Buda, where our group was staying for the weekend. Kevin left the car there and had the parts delivered so that repairs could be made. He then rented a car for his business during the week. Csaba (Auto Ricambi) delivered the last of the parts needed when he arrived Thursday night, and the shop was to have the car finished by Friday afternoon after we were done at the track. After picking up the car everything seemed good but on the way to the museum the brakes locked up and overheated, so Kevin had to leave the car to cool down. Of course, he was not very happy at this point and called back to the shop to see what could be done, especially knowing that they were closed on Saturday. After the pizza dinner at Canyon Lake, we all returned to the hotel while Kevin went back to retrieve his car. Waiting at the motel was Karl Frasier, the owner of Christian Brothers Automotive. He was waiting for Kevin to see what could be done and opened up his shop to put the car back on the lift. With help from several FIAT savvy members, it was determined that the right caliper and brake hose had deteriorated and were not releasing properly, plus the master cylinder was suspect as well. The acorn nut on the booster was also adjusted. Where does one find brakes parts for a FIAT Spider at 11pm on a Saturday night. Luckily just the previous week we had gotten a call from Mike Dean near San Antonio, who had a stash of FIAT parts he was wanting to dispose of. After contacting him he said that he may have just what was needed but he had to check his shop. Taking a chance that he may have what was needed Kevin and BJ Harrington set out to meet Mike as it was a 45-minute trip to his place. Luckily Mike had the parts needed, and unbelievably Karl said he would stay as long as it took to make sure Kevin’s car was fixed. He waited at the shop until they got back around 1am. After removing the stubborn brake line nuts, replacing the caliper, pads and bleeding, all seemed well, so they called it a night. Kevin decided to loosen the master from the booster a little the next morning and head home, not taking any chance that he might have more issues and miss a flight he had to take on Sunday. The good news – he made it OK! I’m sorry that Kevin had to miss the Saturday tour with the group, but I can’t get over the dedication that Karl Frasier had for his business and his customer to stay up virtually all night to solve a problem that most places would have shrugged off until the next business day. We took a group pic in front of the shop Saturday morning and sent it to him as a salute to living up to the name of his franchise – Christian Brothers.
3 .Np.N‘o1 F.U rth) iats U
by Mike Bouse, West Michigan
￼ West Michigan was the place to be, specifically the Tulip City of Holland, Michigan. The end of September was the time, specifically the last weekend of the month. There were more vintage FIATs buzzing around Holland at one time than anywhere else in the state. Participants came from as far away as Missouri, Wisconsin and Ohio to attend the 6th annual event. By my count, there were two dozen Spiders, X1/9s, and 124 Coupes cruising together, with a couple of Abarth 500s and a smattering of other sports cars. All were FIAT CLUB AMERICA members enjoying each other’s company for the entire weekend. Old friends were reunited and everyone met someone for the first time. Friday night we gathered on Ottawa Beach for some fine lake perch. We filled the restaurant parking lot with Italian stallions and received many compliments from the other patrons that managed to squeeze into the quaint little establishment. With our bellies full, we departed in darkness for the familiar and traditional hotel parking lot review. Of course, that late-night soiree had to include some wrenching on Mr. Lee’s Spider. I think this diversion was planned just to avoid a threatened karaoke contest. Saturday morning we were off on our day long adventure. First stop was the local FIAT Studio, where we celebrated Crazy Hat Day. I think you’ll agree that Mike Louviere really takes the prize when it comes to the craziest hat! From the Studio, we cruised to Gilmore’s Car Museum and spent quite a bit of time with the nostalgic sights available. Doug gave everyone a treat by taking pictures of our cars as we each passed in front of the fully restored 1930s Shell gas station. 19 FIATclubAmerica.com
Then it was off to Saugatuck for some real tourist action before dinner at the fantastic Saugatuck Brewery. Many thanks to Tom and Cindy for creating our own special label of beer! Sunday saw us again cruising, this time for Kalamazoo and the Air Zoo, where we were treated to a back door special tour of some of the things most visitors don’t get to see. A WWII Wildcat was recently drug out of Lake Michigan, and we were treated to a special viewing of that plane before they began the task of restoration. It was quite a sight. My grandson was treated extra special by Dan and Penny Brant; Tyler was allowed to sit in some airplanes that are strictly off-limits to the general public. I don’t think his little eyes could have been any brighter. Sadly, the air museum was our good-bye point. That is, until next year when we gather for the 7th Annual F.U.N. For more information about FIATs Up North, and how you can participate, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Jerry Cucchiara, Toronto
Mr. Giolito Lecture at The Italian Cultural institute in Toronto The Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto hosted a lecture titled “A FIAT Design Approach” by Roberto Giolito who is not only Head of FIAT Design but also the creator of all the highly successful versions of the FIAT 500 (For FFO13 attendees, he is guest speaker Fabrizio Vacca's boss.). Mr. Giolito is very charismatic and full of a captivating and pleasant personality. He explained in detail how he took the style from the iconic original FIAT 500 and incorporated it into the new design, satisfying people from different continents throughout the world. Mr. Giolito is working with Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Lancia design teams as well, with FIAT being the parent company. He had an extensive slideshow presentation, which displayed sketched drawings of concept photos. Roberto Giolito began his journey with the FIAT group when he joined in 1989 after graduating from the Industrial Design School in Rome, Italy. This was where he started working oninnovative prototypes with electric traction. His first project, was the interior and exterior of the FIAT Downtown, which was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1993. The following year he designed another zero-emission electric concept car, making its debut in Switzerland in 1994. That same year he began to develop the compact minivan, with the innovative concept of two rows of seats each holding three passengers width-wise. In 2002, Giolito was named the first Director of the New Advanced Design Centre of the FIAT group. Two years later, the new FIAT 500, which was inspired by the original 500, was revealed in Geneva in 2004. The original concept was not titled 500; rather it was Trepiuno which when translated, means three plus one. Once the vehicle made its debut, the media immediately named this iconic car the 500. Although minimal changes have been made, the concept of this little car is present in 500s to date. Mr Giolito went on to design the FIAT Grande Punto and the FIAT Qubo. In 2007 the vehicle received the title of European Car of the Year, and that same year he was appointed the Director of FIAT Design. In 2008 Giolito was responsible for reviving the Abarth brand and was awarded by Automotive News magazine with Eurostar 2008–and from the Italian Republic, an award for Innovation in the Design Sector. In 2011 he was given his present title to oversee the entire line of products of the FIAT Group Automobiles. Mr. Giolito and his design team were then awarded the prestigious Compasso Oro award by the Italian government. "Roberto Giolito has and will continue to be a crucial part of FIAT’s current and future designs. We are appreciative for Giolito’s hard work and time spent into perfecting our little Italian cars, making them that much more enjoyable." FIATclubAmerica.com 20
The Modern X1/9-Midwest Version by Jim McKenzie, North East Coast
In the summer of 2012 I decided I needed a new car. I owned three old cars–a 1977 X1/9, a 1973 850 Sport Spider and my daily driver, a 2007 Mazda 3 hatchback. My X1/9 had just had a compression test showing a bad cylinder, and it had a lot of other issues too so was relegated to being a good-weather weekend car only. I looked at a lot of new cars but most seemed fairly soulless and did not appeal to me. But one that had a LOT of personality was the new FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio, and a test drive showed it to be a very fun car to drive. While not as low to the ground as my go-kart X1/9 or as roomy as the Mazda 3 it seemed to be a good car overall. I tried to spec out the exact car I wanted to buy–Giallo Yellow or white/ black European two-tone with the Marrone brown leather interior, the beige roof and an automatic transmission. A slushbox may seem sacrilegious on an Abarth to some, but my 60 year-old knees already had enough work dealing with a 4-speed in the 850 and a 5-speed in the X. It was (and still is) not possible to order the car with any of my desired specs–outside color, inside color, roof color or transmission, so that option ended in disappointment for me. I started to realize that what I really wanted anyway was my X but updated with a faster, stronger engine, better transmission and air conditioning, and with it being both capable and livable as a daily driver. I composed a thread called “Indulge Me, would you REALLY buy a modern X1/9 today?” on the excellent XWEB forum in October of 2012: http://xwebforums.org/showthread. php?t=19248. The thread got great responses, including a private one from Matt Brannon, owner of Midwest Bayless. He said “Modern X? I can build you one.” After many conversations and dozens of emails, I contracted with him to build his #6 K20 converted X1/9. The car would need extensive work on most if not all peripheral systems, and expenses would total around the price of a new 500. It would also take months to do. One nice financial thing is that Matt lets you spread your payments out–a deposit for schedule, a good-sized one to procure drivetrain and then smaller monthly payments until delivery. It isn’t cheap and not within everyone’s budget, but this approach makes a K20 X1/9 more accessible to many more people. There are of course other options. Chris Obert’s shop does a nice turbo conversion, and there are at least a dozen other 21 FIATclubAmerica.com
engine choices (Uno, 1800 cc, VW) that Exxie owners have tried. I went with Matt because I’ve had years of consistently good experience with his shop, and because his solution was “tried and true” at least five times before. Also I don’t think you can go wrong with the recommendations of a championship FIAT driver! Finally, the dual nature of the VTEC engine had more appeal to me personally with my driving style than a turbo. In Matt’s solution, you get to keep the rear trunk, a big plus. We agreed to have the car sent early in January 2013, with an aggressive goal of delivering the car at FIAT FreakOut in Hauppage NY in July. I paid my deposit to secure a spot on Midwest’s schedule and to start the process of drivetrain location. Matt uses a business associate to specifically locate good low-mileage engines, often from 2003-2006 Acura RSXs. He carefully explained the variety of K20 engines, including tops and bottoms, K24s, Hondata, JDM, TPS, MAP, fuel rail, and a variety of other terms I had never heard of in my prior all-carb experience with Xs. Almost immediately Matt’s associate found a great low-mileage engine and transmission, and things were going along smoothly and fast.
Then the train came off the track. Driving home on Rte 495 from a family Christmas party, three weeks before the car was to be shipped, a deer with judgment issues ran directly in front of the car and damaged a variety of panels and the driver’s side headlight bucket, also causing an ex-Bambi. Matt saw the photos and said they could fix that too (but not Bambi). Matt’s process (at least in my case) included both a Photobucket-dedicated, step-by-step website (mine had over 200 photos) and an extensive, system-formatted Excel spreadsheet that details costs and labor hours throughout the process. For my project the first version was designated with an “a” and at the end I think we were on version “k.” The project is a living thing. Matt often suggested changes as they took the car apart and found hidden issues– components that were worn out, rust holes and the normal bushings and seals that you’d replace whenever a major system is being replaced. Matt also uncovered the twin-banes of X1/9 owners–Previous Owner Syndrome and repairs made by unknowledgeable third-party shops that had not done their work properly including one that put parts in backwards. In some cases his changes actually saved money. Jonathan Pack is the primary tech that worked on my car, and the photos show the quality of his work and care he puts into each conversion. In my case he not only put in a 200 HP K20A VTEC engine and six-speed transmission but a Hondata ECU that adds an additional 40 horsepower, and
he installed WHOA Wildwood brakes, a Vick’s AutoSports radiator, Koni Coilovers, 15” Rota Shakotan’s from Allison Automotive, a new steering rack, and new Yokohama 205x50 tires. Matt had the fenders rolled and the tires fit all around without rubbing. New pivots, a front sway bar, reinstalled air conditioning and a truck (!) exhaust system to make the car as quiet as possible completed the hardware. (Notice I said reinstalled AC. My car had AC originally but like with many Xs, a PO felt the performance suffered with it, and removed some components. Matt reinstalled themand charged the system. I would imagine putting AC into a non-AC car would be a far more laborious and expensive process.) Jonathan also installed new carpet, dyed the targa top and carpeted speaker cabinets to match and installed new gauges from Bob Brown, including a digital voltmeter, odometerand Marshall speedo and tach. I had already had Bob put LEDS into the dash earlier so I ended up with a very bright and visible gauge cluster…like a modern car.￼ Matt always suggests that the car’s owner come to Columbus Ohio to test drive before delivery. The owner’s feedback before final delivery is critical to everyone’s overall satisfaction. I did so the week before FFO and drove the car up to Canton and visited the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. ￼
Stance came out great!
Matt had taken me out for a test drive prior and while I was truly shocked at the power the car had, almost neck snapping when the VTEC kicks in, it was nothing like actually driving it. That experience was surreal. The conversion addresses the one area that we all wish FIAT had addresses so many years ago, as James May from Top Gear would say, “the Beans.” The X1/9 as stock simply does not possess the power to match its chassis and handling capabilities. The modern X, the K20, possibly adds more power than you’d ever need, but if you do need it, it is there in boatloads. I had requested the car to have a split-personality–a quiet daily driver cruiser that I could live with and have conversations in, even cellphone conversations, but have a demon in the back that could be unleashed occasionally. The car as delivered matched this perfectly, and Matt said he has leeway to create either a stealth sedate cruiser like mine, or a real race car including weight stripping measures. He’ll build the car YOU want and still retain the handling character balance and X1/9 feel we’ve all come to know and love. In the end this is still an X1/9, just the fastest and most solid one you can imagine. There are a few negatives in the process. Much of your X1/9 1300 or 1500 “Legacy” drivetrain knowledge becomes irrelevant. The AC is pretty good but not great. You lose continued on page 24
Bob Martin's X1/9
Andy Hight's Abarth 500 23 FIATclubAmerica.com
JOE D'Agostino's FIAT 128 Rallye
The Modern X1/9 continued from page 22
the spare tire wheel well, the ability to dim or turn off your dash lights, and the rear defroster switch and “spare” on the rearside of the consoles are goners as well, due to the shifter plate length. Matt has come up with a cool solution here–he shaves down the switches and glues them in as dummies. They look real, and one or twice I’ve tried to turn the rear defroster on. As I said, I was X1/9 conversion #6 with more to come. Matt has a few big projects going now, a Dallara, putting an Abarth 500 engine into an X, and a K20 that will be Midwest’s own. Riding as a passenger in a K20 X is an experience, but you don’t really know what the car can do until you drive it. And rightfully so Matt does not let potential customers drive other customers’ nearly-completed K20s. So Matt’s K20 will be a demo unit that serious customers for the K20 conversion can come down and drive to feel what they’d really be getting. He expects to be able to ramp up to 4 K20s a year.
Matt met the aggressive timeline, and my car was successfully delivered to FFO. Many people saw it there, and I’ve seen a slew of photos already on the net. But I had some additional work done and the car returned to Columbus, and so even more saw it at Midwest Bayless’s Open House a week or two later, that Art Bayless himself attended. To commemorate the build of the car, I had decals made up from a vendor in the UK. I have been driving the K20 X now for a short while, and it is everything I hoped it would be when we started the project last October. I am always asked, “Would you do it again?” And I answer, “Yes, if given the opportunity to buy a Modern X1/9, I wouldn’t hesitate.” Neither should you.
Mike Space's Lancia Appia FIATclubAmerica.com 24
FIAT Club America
Presents a Sizzling Mid-Summer Show by Bobb Rayner, Delaware Valley
What goes best with Italian food? Italian wine, perhaps, but this past August, Italian CARS were the featured complement to the Italian food and festivities at the annual Automobili Italiane show in Reading, Pennsylvania, USA. This annual FCA-sponsored show, open to all Italian marques, began over fifteen years ago as an added attraction alongside the Italian Heritage Festival in Berks County, PA. Scott Hill, a past president of FCAU and its current treasurer, created this relaxed gathering to give Italian car owners a chance to show off their machines to people who really appreciate them. Despite some sporadic gaps in past year, Automobili Italiane has regained its appeal and participation due to Scott's unselfish revival efforts. The mid-summer weather of the third weekend in August brought beautiful sunshine and the usual large crowd of festival attendees. While the owners and drivers of nearly fifty show cars were understandably pleased with each other's company, it was a particular delight to see the faces of and hear comments from people of Italian descent who were visiting the adjoining festival's celebration of Italian art and culture. Many were former residents and/or citizens of the
mother country and were absolutely thrilled to stroll among the show field covered with cars that brought back memories and a sense of pride in their Italian heritage. While the somewhat usual collection of late-model Spiders and X1/9s dominated the FIATs on the show field, there were also quite a number of rare and unusual FIAT cars as well. Vladimir Pisch drove (at a very leisurely pace, we're told!) a nicely restored 1971 FIAT 500L from his home in northern New Jersey, and past FCA president Jim Aitken came all the way from Virginia to display his famous black '74 FIAT Spider. As an amazing example of the Italian automotive art, Jim Hendry offered his stunning FIAT 1200 Cabriolet, a car of 1962 vintage that was as perfect in its scarlet color as any of its ilk could have been. The Lancia contingent was represented by a race-prepped Lancia Fulvia owned by Mark Wolff, and a most unusual 1961 Lancia Flaminia sedan was shown by its new owner, Mike Space. This remarkable car, totally unrestored, was purchased by Mike from the original owner and included most all of the original paperwork such as the owner and shop manuals (featuring hand-drawn illustrations!) and promotional materials from its original date of sale. Among the numerous oddities on this car were the six...count 'em...six window wipers: two on the front windshield and four on the backlight, two of which were on the inside of the glass to keep it fog-free in damp weather! Rounding out the unusual Lancias was an unrestored 1971 Lancia Flavia Vignale cabrio presented by Joe Bevacqua. *
Not to be left out, several Alfa Romeos were in attendance, along with three Ferraris–a 1998 F355 Spider, a Ferrari Daytona and a 1969 365GT4 belonging to Sr. Pietro Castiglioni, one of the principal figures on the Italian Heritage Council which conducts the festival each year. Pietro's car is one of only three of its kind in the world equipped with an automatic transmission. Fans of two-wheeled vehicles were treated to the sight of a MotoGuzzi motorcycle and a Vespa scooter thrown into the mix! While the car owners found the admiring glances and words of praise rewarding enough, there was also a nice assortment of trophies awarded to the cars featured that day, with winners having been judged by popular vote. Their names appear to the right, and judging by the reactions of both participants and observers, it's a safe guess that many others will join these winners when Automobili Italiane returns next summer in a new location!
Concorso d'Eleganza Winners
Automobili Italiane Reading, PA Aug. 17, 2003 CLASS A: Alfa Romeo First Place - Paul Waldman, 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV Second Place - Bobb Rayner, 1991 Alfa Romeo 164S
CLASS B: Lancia First Place - Mark Wolff, 1967 Lancia Fulvia Second Place - Mike Space, 1961 Lancia Flaminia
CLASS C: FIAT & Bertone X1/9 First Place - Harry Neuman, 1986 Bertone X1/9 Second Place - John Padden, 1981 FIAT X1/9
CLASS D : Early FIAT Spider and Cabriolet First Place - Jim Hendry, 1962 FIAT 1200 Convertible Second Place - Jim Aitken, 1974 FIAT 124 Spider
CLASS E: Later Model FIAT Spider First Place - John Erskine, 1979 FIAT 2000 Spider Second Place - Chet Whiting, 1979 FIAT 2000 Spider
CLASS F: Later Model FIAT Spider First Place - Ray Prior, 1983 FIAT Spider 2000 Second Place - Dave Blyler, 1985 FIAT Spider 2000
CLASS G: Ferrari First Place - Pietro Castiglioni, 1969 Ferrari 365/GT4 Second Place - Mitch Davocourt, 1998 Ferrari F355 Spider
CLASS H: Vintage FIAT First Place - Vladimir Pisch, 1971 FIAT 500L Second Place - Bill Clark, 1970 FIAT 850 Spyder
Fiat Club America =
A “New FIAT 500 Club?” NOT! "Remember, we have always included "NEW" Fiats in the club since 1983!"
by Bobb Rayner, Delaware Valley There have been some recently-heard comments that FIAT Club America has, or is turning into, just a “New-Generation FIAT 500” club, due to the influx of quite a few new-generation FIAT 500s at FIAT FreakOuts and regional chapter events. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support that idea, and in fact, quite the opposite is true! Case in point: at the 30th anniversary of FIAT FreakOut in July 2013, a total of 137 cars were photographed on the Concorso d’Eleganza show field. Of those 137 cars, only 45 were “new-generation” FIATs, one of which was a prototype 500L brought to the event by FIAT USA. So, there were actually 44 new-generation FIAT 500s on
the show field that were brought by their owners, which amounted to less than one-third of the total number of FIATs, Lancias, Alfa Romeos, and Ferraris at the event. In other words, over two-thirds of the cars on the FIAT FreakOut 2013 show field were “vintage” cars of some form! The math speaks for itself, and it can be verified by simply counting the cars shown in the FFO2013 panoramic photograph. It should be noted that many FCA members who own new-generation FIATs also own “vintage” FIATs, which probably inspired those members to purchase the newer cars when they became available. In addition, Club FLU/FCA has always embraced ALL Italian cars and their drivers, regardless of the cars’ vintage or pedigree, and will continue to do so in the spirit of Italian car enthusiasm. FIAT Club America a mere “New FIAT 500 Club?” Stronzata! FIATclubAmerica.com 26
Prez Sez continued from page 3
question that the kind of enthusiasm we have shown over the years has helped bring the FIAT brand name forward as a significant marque on the American automotive scene. I am always quick to point out that FIAT is the ONLY auto brand that has ever been able to successfully return to the market here. Absolutely no one else has been able to do it and they rescued Chrysler at the same time! Imagine an automotive landscape that no longer has Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep as new vehicle brands. You would certainly be paying a lot more for a Chevy, Ford or Honda with less competition. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been saved and C-D-J cars and trucks are being
exported all over the world. The roads that led to today’s success trace right back to our beloved and historic FIAT roots. One hundred fourteen years of genius in automotive design and engineering combined with today’s leadership of Sergio Marchionne and every one of us who kept the faith have brought us here. We never gave up and most of all never feared the test of the battle. Damon Kane showed us that in his life, and it is the legacy we stand on today as we seek all of our tomorrows.
Forza FIAT! Ciao!
FIAT Freak, continued from page 4
America members, increases in membership numbers have been accompanied by an increase in area club chapter activities. This is not the case with all club chapters, but efforts are underway to facilitate the holding of events in regions that have lacked such activity. In my own FCA chapter (Delaware Valley), we created our own Facebook page and conduct some sort of driving event almost on a monthly basis. The FCA Board of Directors holds periodic meetings via telephone conference calls and has recently formed committees dedicated to areas such as membership support and recruitment, advertising and FIAT studio relations. If you are an FCA member and wish to experience the fun and excitement of hanging with fellow enthusiasts, please contact the club officers and board members so we can help you create an FCA chapter in your home area. With the
help of this magazine and the club’s website, you’ll have the resources to make things happen where you live and drive. Watch for the results of our efforts in the near future. Meanwhile, I urge all of you to submit material for publication in this magazine and on our club’s website. PLEASE help us, and remember that all of the time and effort needed to keep this club running is contributed on a totally volunteer basis. Your input would be appreciated! Thanks for reading and for being a part of this great enthusiast community. I wish everyone great joy during the upcoming holidays, and a great year of happiness and spirited Italian car motoring in 2014. “Love you, love your show!” Grazie Mille. Ciao!
FIAT COURTS ITS ‘FREAKS’ continued from page 12
possible. A company can say what it wants but nothing beats the word of mouth. And in any case, we are always more credible than commercials.” “Good thing the Italians have come,” echoes Russell Harris a FIAT owner since 1974 who is particularly proud of his 124 Spider which, despite the 95 degree weather he drove all the way from Reading, Massachusetts. “For Chrysler, which was about to close, it has been a blessing. And for our club too. We had a spike in new blood, many new enrollments and even the purchase of new cars by quite a few members.” In fact the parking lot of the hotel embedded in the forests of Long Island was crawling with not only strange little vintage cars, but also a good number of new 500s – many
already customized, according to local and individual taste. And actually, to the trained eye, these colorful small Italian cars now stand out, in great number, even on the streets and avenues of Manhattan. “In two years we sold more than 100,000 units and we are growing 120 percent compared to last year,” says a visibly happy Nicole Longhini, FIAT’s brand manager for new models who came here from Detroit for the occasion with her company’s communication director. “The crisis? What crisis?” she asks rhetorically, “We don’t even know how to spell it!”
IS YOUR membership up-to-date?
Go to www.FIATClubAmerica.com and log into the club member area at the top right of the page to view your account. Please check that your email, address and membership information is current. If you have questions about how to access the system, please contact the system administrator using the link provided on the poage.
FIAT Club America Membership P.O. Box 563 â€˘ Coldwater, MI 49036
Advertise Here! Affordable rates and hits the FIAT market better than anything else out there for the price. Does it work? Well, you are reading this ad and it doesn't even have a picture of a FIAT in it. 29 FIATclubAmerica.com
Scan the QR Code with a smartphone to go directly to the membership section on the FCA website.
Visit our new interactive chapter map at www.FIATclubAmerica.com/chapters to find one close to home. Austin TX FCA” (chapter)
Jarrod Weaver– 512-818-1650 - email@example.com
Arizona “Desert FCA” (chapter)
Eric Lynn– 602-524-0053 - firstname.lastname@example.org
John Montgomery– 770-932-2380 - email@example.com
Austin TX FLU (chapter)
Enchanted FCA (chapter)
Ron Conlon– 405-325-9498 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Barnett– 828-230-8470 - email@example.com
Joel Hailey - firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida-FCA (chapter) Indiana (chapter)
Long Island–FCA (chapter)
Texas FLUud (Houston) (chapter)
Blue Ridge (chapter)
Mid-Atlantic (regional contact)
Frank Battaglia– 434-295-0990 email@example.com
Haz Neuman– 410-836-1102 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolina FCA (chapter)
Chris Layton– 207-882-6207 - FIATfan@italiancarclub.com
Delaware Valley (chapter)
Kevin Pound - email@example.com
Sue Watch - firstname.lastname@example.org
DFW Classic FIAT Lancia Club (chapter) Kathy & Dane Young - 817-307-7688
East Tennessee (regional contact)
Brett Melancon– 865-604-3271 - email@example.com
Sean Russell– 858-401-3510 - firstname.lastname@example.org
www.liFIATclub.com - fred@liFIATclub.com
www.chicagolandFLU.com - ChicagoFLU@yahoo.com
Rocky Mountain (chapter)
David A. Nicholson - email@example.com
Jarrod Weaver–512-818-1650 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Denise Burchette– (eastern) - email@example.com Kevin Barnett– (Western NC & SC) 828-230-8470 - firstname.lastname@example.org
John Falk– 505-681-3311 - email@example.com http://www.enchantedflu.com/
Mid-South (chapter) Montreal (chapter)
Andrew Mikus - firstname.lastname@example.org
North East (chapter)
Diane Curtis– 207-882-6207 - email@example.com
Northeast Coast CT/NJ/NY/MA (chapter) Tim Beeble– 203-743-4954 - TBeeble@aol.com
Ohio Valley (chapter)
Janet Baily - FIATjanet@aol.com http://www.ohioflu.com/
Ottawa Canada (chapter)
Mike Rutenberg - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerry Cucchiara– 416-496-0071 - torontoFIATclub@yahoo. com
West Michigan FCA (chapter)
Pete Ziegeler - email@example.com
WYNSO (Western New York, So. Ontario) (chapter)
Darryl Stacey– 716-822-3812 - firstname.lastname@example.org FIAT Club America is growing, if you would like to start a FCA chapter in your area, please contact John Montgomery for information on how to become an official FCA chapter. You may also sign up to be a regional contact. This is the first step to becoming a chapter. Join the fun!
Jeff Schneider– 613-733-5657 - FIATjeph@netscape.net
Pittsburgh (regional contact) Jody Farr - email@example.com
Introducing the four-door FIAT® 500L Trekking. Gorgeous Italian design that looks great anywhere.
ITALIAN DESIGN FOR THE AMERICAN ROAD TRIP.
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Fall 2013 Issue