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Monday, September 26, 2011

Reader's Report: Fiat 500 Around America

Fiat 500 Around America

If you think the Fiat 500 is just a city car, guess again. Richard, a follower of this blog and friend, is in the process of taking his 2012 Fiat 500 on a 10,000 mile round trip tour of the United States. He updates me on his journey from time to time, and has offered to share a few of his observations along the way.

Scarab Sports Car

Richard has been involved with some of the great car marques over the years and has appreciation and knowledge of the finest automobiles. He bought a Fiat 500 Sport this spring and decided to take a road trip around the country; going all the way around the edge, visiting oceans, lakes and borders, just as he used to do in his youth.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina

Dear Chris,

Missed seeing you at the Fiat FreakOut, you were generally busy, and I left Saturday AM.

Tail of the Dragon at Deal's Gap

My trip around the USA goes well. The 500 is terrific. Only saw one other 500 so far, on the famous "Tail of The Dragon" between Tennessee and North Carolina.

US Naval Academy - Annapolis, Maryland

I started in West Palm Beach, Florida traveling up the coast to north west Connecticut.  I made a service stop at Criswell's FIAT of Gaithersburg in Maryland.

I passed on Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine, figuring the coast roads would be too crowded.

Amish Farm Store and doggie, Pennsylvania

I drove through north west Connecticut up to corner where Vermont / New York and Canada meet.

Along St. Lawrence to Rochester, then diagonal down to the Fiat FreakOut in Tennessee.

Portsmouth, Virginia

Over to Highlands, North Carolina and then to Bob Boyd FIAT of Columbus, Ohio for service #2 (I'm trying to do 4,500 miles between services).

Onward up to Harbor Springs, Michigan to see a fellow car enthusiast who has a few Abarths in his collection.

Ferry to Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain
, New York

Crossed the Mackinaw Bridge and then went west.

Today (8/11/2011) turned 10,000 miles at the Minnesota / North Dakota border, just south of Fargo.

I am driving secondary roads and very occasionally freeways.  Not a single problem of any note.

East Market Neighborhood Mural, Columbus, Ohio

This is probably one of the most fun cars I've ever driven. Gets as much attention as any of the big names I've owned. It was simply fabulous on the twisty roads in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. No followers could keep up with the 500 on twisties.

Waiting for an Abarth which I have signed up for at Criswell FIAT.

Very Best Regards,

2012 FIAT 500 Sport in Rosso
Sun roof
Auto AC (excellent)
Spare tire


Dear Chris,

It is such a super car on so many levels. I drove the Scarab replica I finished in 1985 from LA to Reno then over to Monterrey and down the Pacific Coast Highway back to LA. That trip and my trip in the Fiat 500 are right up at the top of my fun drive list.



Dear Chris,

I was having my red 500 Sport serviced at Tonkin FIAT in Portland, Oregon as it had turned over 13,000 miles on my USA tour.

While I was waiting for the service, I asked one of the helpful and knowledgeable salesmen what the trade in value of my Sport with 13,000 miles would be. He suggested I drive an automatic just to check it out.

I liked the Sport automatic I drove as the 6 speed tightens up the gaps I noticed with the 5 speed. Where I live in Florida, having to shift is not a joy. I would highly recommend potential buyers test drive the automatic.

I had a look at the Tonkin FIAT inventory as I wanted a Sport again with auto ac, spare and sun roof optional.

The owner's demo was the only car I really liked. It had 1950 miles, but I could see there were no signs of wear.

Without further ado, we agreed on what I considered being a very fair deal.

I drove away in a yellow (now my favorite Fiat color) Sport with sunroof, spare, auto AC AND seat heaters. This is a very nice, even in Florida, winter perk!

They changed out some items like free flow air filter from 500 Madness, leather rear hatch closing strap and the air horn.

I've driven a little around Portland now, and the automatic is a real plus.
I still have 5000 miles to travel getting back to Florida.

By the way, Fiat service dept at Tonkin is outstanding.

Next service will be in El Paso, Texas with the yellow Sport having done about 4,500 miles since new. This seems like a good interval for oil changes.

Very Best Regards,

Dear Chris,

I'm off from Oregon coast towards Reno. Going to install one of the Sprint Booster devices Boris Tilim at 500MADNESS sells. Be interesting to see if it lives up to recommendation.



Abarth sticker - positive thoughts

Met Stacey Massey, director of Massey FIAT in El Paso while getting the 1st service at 4500 miles on new yellow 'Ecco'. She is a dynamic and competent 'directrice'. Top, top service facility. Top sales location as well. I have had service at Bob Boyd in Ohio, Criswell in Maryland, Tonkin in Portland and now Mack Massey in El Paso.

All top flight service facilities.

Prada show window 25 miles from Marfa, Texas - 25 miles from anything!

The Sprint Booster I installed from 500Madness is very good in medium setting. I had ordered one for manual, and after I traded red manual for yellow Sport with automatic I returned manual SB and Madness refunded my money in 3 days. I had ordered a 2nd SB for automatic thus the return.



To be continued!

Richard continued with his trip and sent us these updates and his final thoughts:

Dear Chris,

I am presently on home stretch just east of San Antonio.
Got a great photo in Big Bend area.
Also on Rt 66.

Fiat across America Trip

Sat, October 22

Dear Chris,

My base is in West Palm Beach where Arrigo Fiat is located. About
5 miles away. Handy.

I was visiting Arrigo to get to know sales staff. I once again asked
what would it cost me to trade for a new yellow Fiat Sport, auto with
sun roof. The saleswoman with whom I had spoken during my first
visit to Arrigo, drove me around the gigantic Arrigo lot to show me 
what the Sport looked like in all available colors. They have over
100 units to choose from. Well, my sport was at the 8000 mile mark
and they gave me a generous trade-in on a yellow Sport, identical
to my current Fiat 500. That replacement will be here in less
than 2 weeks.

Looking forward to my 3rd Fiat 500 Sport. 

The sales team at Arrigo are all helpful and knowledgeable,
it was a very good experience buying my new Fiat.

I've driven my 2 Fiat 500 Sports a total of 13,000 + 6,000 miles
and have enjoyed every minute in the cars. 
My yellow Sport had been Adam Tonkin's demo and I bought it 
with 1925 miles, it'll turn over 8000 miles tomorrow.

Was an opportune moment to get a brand new Fiat 500, 
Arrigo was getting exactly what I wanted as a replacement,
the sales experience was delightful and I've added another
carefully driven 500 to be enjoyed by a new owner and I will soon 
enjoy my brand new Fiat 500.

I have driven a Vespa scooter around as my daily transport since
they first returned to the USA in 2000. I'll keep the Vespa but my
daily transport will be the Fiat. I get the same feeling of freedom and
enjoy the Fiat just a bit more than the Vespa. The Fiat is a whole
lot safer than riding on an exposed scooter and much more

Cheers to the Fiat 500 – styling, safety and such a joy to drive.

Best Regards,


Fiat Across America Art
Guy Allen

Much thanks to Richard!


Unknown said...

Looks like you're having fun Richard. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Take care,

Bob-Boyd FIAT

Anonymous said...

This sounds very cool indeed! This has re-affirmed my thoughts on this car as a long distance cruiser, both on the secondary highways, but the main interstate as well.

I'm still torn over the base Rosso and the Giallo paint colors!