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Our journey with the Fiat 500

Until recently, I hadn’t thought of Chrysler—or its sexy Italian brother Fiat—as part of the Big Three. Ford and GM were dominating the scene and my Detroit heart. The “Imported from Detroit” Super Bowl commercial changed that for me and Chrysler started bleeping on my radar again.

So when I got the call to take a Fiat 500 on a road trip to Nashville for the Fiat FreakOut, I was pretty pumped.

Thoughts of my last road trip in a Fiat were quickly washed away. You see, my mom had a Fiat Spider in the late 70’s. My parents packed us into the Fiat for a family road trip to Washington D.C. A family of four! Have you seen the size of the backseat in a Fiat Spider? It’s smaller than a shoebox and had to fit my growing-like-a-bean-sprout brother and myself.

The night before the road trip, my husband and I both took the new—and oh so cute— Fiat 500 for a few spins around the block. I hadn’t driven a stick in about 9 years and my husband hadn’t shifted with his right hand in even longer. (The sticks in England are on the left side.)

The first thing we noticed was that for being a teeny-tiny car, the Fiat 500 is plenty roomy inside. Now, I wouldn’t suggest taking a family of four on a 10-hour road trip with it but it’s perfect for two and a great little run around car.

The Fiat 500 is an adorable, zippy little car that will have the girls swooning. But there is more to this machine than the cute factor. This car is fun to drive! The 500 handles well and a simple push of the “sport” button gives it some added oomph!

Once we pulled into Nashville and joined the Fiat FreakOut we were immediately immersed in the culture of Fiat. The event is organized by the Fiat Lancia Unlimited club members and they are passionate about their cars. These are gear heads—complete car people!

This was a reunion of FLU members old and new and one thing was very apparent, when you buy a Fiat you’re not just buying a car, you become a member of the community and a part of the lifestyle brand.

Meeting people who drove and flew in from all around the country—and world—was quite intoxicating. Gerd Wirlitsch came all the way from Stuttgart, Germany and told me how the community helps each other out when trying to find old parts. He’s made lifelong friends in America through his passion for Fiat.

Bill May from the Raleigh/Durham area brought his young son to the event. The father and son duo didn’t even own a Fiat when they attended last years FreakOut, they simply went to spend time with Bill’s brother, an avid Fiat owner. They now own a Fiat 500. By the end of the weekend we felt like members of the club.

And everywhere we went we were asked about the Fiat 500.

From a man in Cincinnati who waited for us to return to our car in a parking lot to our waitress at Waffle House in Nashville—they all wanted to know what we were driving and where they could get one. The Fiat 500 is a head-turner, that’s for sure!


Bottom line

I have a new understanding of my mom's love for her old Spider. I was born and raised in a Ford family but Chrysler and Fiat are pulling on my heart strings. They’ve certainly entered back into the fray of the Big Three for me. They are doing good things for Detroit and that always rates well with me. 

Disclosure: Fiat USA has provided a Fiat 500 for me to use for the trip down to Nashville as well as accommodations, airfare home, gas, and some meals.

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Reader Comments (6)

I bought a Fiat 500 last month and have loved every minute of it! Your experience echos mine exactly - so FUN to drive and I get tons of questions about it. Having been a VW Beetle owner for 10 years prior, having a cute car was a requirement. Last summer I was poised to buy a Mini Cooper, but on a trip to Europe kept spying the Fiat 500 and wondered "can I get this car in the US?" When I found out that they were releasing in spring 2011, I held out til this summer so that my new car could be a Fiat instead.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

That's awesome, Rebecca. I think it hits a lot of demographics—I can see the boy-racers & older set enjoying this car as much as the people who like it for its cuteness. I'll keep my eye out for you around town!

July 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

It is super cute!

I drove a Sebring for about two years, then Chrysler disappeared from my radar. I started paying more attention once we had the Chrysler Tweetea, and of course when the Superbowl commercial hit.

I'm happy to see them coming back in and giving the other two auto companies some healthy competition. I remember Ed and Mike saying at Tweetea that there would be big things happening over the next 6-8 months, so I'm interested to see what the next move is.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNikki Stephan

Great story! You have captured some of the passion that the members have known about for a long time. It is hard to define, but when you 'get it' you really 'get it'! Thanks for hanging with us this weekend!

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTK

I'm sorry I missed that Tweetea, I heard it was a good one. I'm happy to hear that Chrysler & Fiat are back on your radar as well.

We had an awesome time—the FLU group is incredibly welcoming which is one of the reasons it's such a great community. Thanks for your hospitality. Maybe my next car will be the Abarth! It was really great to meet you.

July 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Gave you and your husband had a great time and the weather was with you. Very cute car :)

July 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacie @ freeismylife

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