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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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March 2009 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
Fiat
By Robert McLellan
 

The new Fiat 500 has caught the attention of Europeans and now a possible merger of Chrysler and Fiat could bring Fiat to America. Add the company's siblings, Alfa Romeo and Lancia, and you have a full Italian invasion. Fiat's connection with Ferrari and Maserati has established a strong enthusiast base for Italian automobiles in the USA. Like Henry Ford, the Fiat company began with racing in their blood over 100 years ago, but both later wanted to build a car for the masses. Ford built the Model T and Fiat built the 501.

My 'chance' introduction to Fiat was with a Fiat 501 racer in 1980. I had heard about a late 1930s Cadillac limo parked in a barn not far from where I lived. Most old cars are worth a look, but this one was more of a joke. The 1938 V-12 was in need of everything, and the mouse-infested interior was best inhabited by the mice, not humans.

However, at the other end of the barn, was a chicken coop with a beautiful cast aluminum steering wheel poking out of the top. Completely covered in chicken droppings, was a 1919 Fiat 501. Why on earth would anyone sacrifice it for a chicken roost? I am not a farmer, but I know that this is not normal procedure. The one-eyed farmer pointed to his glass eye and said that the car had cost him dearly and the birds were revenging him. It seemed rather funny at the time, but I suppressed my laughter and headed home. I had not asked any questions about the car and dismissed it as a derelict, not aware that it was a race car. No sooner had I arrived home than the telephone rang with the farmer on the line. He had told his wife that I had taken an interest in the Fiat and she had commanded him to sell it to me at once. Discussions led to a $500 purchase and the discovery that it was a race car.

Welcome back to America, Fiat. The Fiat heritage is enjoyed throughout the world.

A selection of Fiat brochures to introduce you to the variety of years and models can be seen below:

 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, March 2009
 
 
 
 
 
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