One of the most highly anticipated pre-launch auto sales took place Thursday night, September 16, 2010.
Fiat USA opened up the order books Thursday night and, in less than an hour, sold the remaining 470+ Fiat 500 Prima Edizione not sold during the Fiat Lancia Unlimited car club's national convention this past July.
Back in July, Fiat, in appreciation for all the years of support, gave members of the club the first opportunity to purchase the Fiat 500 Prima Edizione (First Edition) model. A total of five-hundred of these collector-edition Fiat 500 models, the first to roll of the assembly line, would be made.
The Prima Edizione featured a sequentially numbered vehicle identification number (VIN) and unique numbered matching badge. Also, owners would be able to select their model build number .
An undisclosed number were sold during the convention (estimated at two dozen) and the rest were held in reserve for a future offering that would be announced via the official fiatusa website and through email notification.
That announcement happened Thursday night, at 8:42 pm. By 9:23pm all were gone.
I thought I would share my experience of reserving one of the Prima Edizione with everyone...
A late night or early morning?
I normally stay up late working on this blog, checking sources, reading endless press reports and combing the internet for tidbits of information. At around 1:00am on Thursday morning, I stopped by ciaofiat.com, the official Fiat USA website, to see what was new. Clicking on the reserve a Prima Edizione button, to my surprise, it said there was 1 car available! Intrigued, I clicked on on the reserve now/generate a random number, car number 90 was picked. Not ready to purchase, I hit the back arrow and closed out the page.
In the morning I emailed a fellow Fiat enthusiast and told him what happened, He emailed me back that he couldn't get on the page and noticed it went to https, a secured web server, so something was up....
The right day
Screen shot taken at approx 8:50pm*
I happened to be off Thursday (unlike Tuesday, when the NA Fiat 500 Sport came out and I had 10 minutes to post a story before going to work), so while working on my blog, I kept checking into ciaofiat.com several times an hour, the site was still down for a good part of the day. By 6:30pm, the site was up, but I had to step out to a meeting; there were no cars available.
Screen shot taken approx 9:10pm
I came home from the meeting around 8:15 - 8:20pm, I refreshed the page and there were 450 cars available! I checked my email and there were no messages. Figuring this is it, it's now or never, I started to plug numbers into the site to see what was available. Excitement was building, as I entered numbers in, sequentially, with each one rejected, I wondered how many I would have to put in until I found an available car. Would I have to repeat this tedious process 20-30-50 or more times? Should I let the site generate a number for me or maybe pick a number that would have some significance to me? I was convinced that others, by now, were flocking to the site and that added to the whirlwind of thoughts going through my mind.
Screen shot taken approx 9:15pm
Then it all stopped... I got to number 29 and it was available! Filling out the forms, there was a timer counting down the minutes and seconds left to finish the process. I finished it within the 15 minutes alloted. It was 8:35pm
Screen shot taken approx 9:23pm
Now I wondered what happened, did I just stumble onto this before others knew? I checked my email again and saw my buddy had sent a message at 8:29 saying it looked like Prima' was open. We both wondered, separately, if it the cars were inadvertently posted as we didn't see an email.
Screen taken a moment later
I refreshed the ciaofiat site and...wow... the 450 cars were now 350! 100 cars sold in 10-15 minutes. This was big, and I knew I had to get this out to my readers! Frantically, I took a screen shot (it shows 329 cars) and posted this on my site and Twitter. This was at about 8:58pm, with a revised posting at 9:01pm.
I got the email!
Emails were sent to Fiat Lancia Unlimited members and then to folks who signed up on ciaofiat.com for updates. These emails were sent in batches due to email limitations; some people received them at slightly different times. I received mine at 8:42pm. With this, the cars started flying.
I was definitely lucky Thursday because I work a lot at night. Coming home after the meeting and checking ciaofiat was also pure luck. I like to think that my dad, who passed away July 21, had a hand in guiding me to this. Thanks, dad...
**There is a waiting list available, so you still may be able to get your Prima Edizione. Sign up at Fiat USA here!
*Times are approximate.