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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Visiting the Oldest Original Fiat Dealer in the USA: FIAT of Larchmont

Alfredo Gulla with Fiat 500 Prima Edizione number 29

One of the great things about owning a new Fiat 500 is the comprehensive warranty called Forward Care. A new 2012 Fiat 500 comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and 4 years unlimited mileage roadside assistance. Additionally, wear items are covered for 12 months/12,000 miles, including wiper blades, brake pads and rotors, and clutch assemblies. Cars delivered before January also had 3-year free maintenance, but this was dropped for later cars in place of more flexible financing and incentives. Still, on a car that only takes 4 quarts of oil and has an $8 oil filter, Fiat 500 maintenance costs are low... low....low...

FIAT of Larchmont

I took advantage of Forward Care when my Fiat 500 Prima Edizione hit 8,000 miles and was due for its first service. My selling dealer was FIAT of Larchmont, whose proprietor is none other than Alfredo Gulla. While I had my car serviced, I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Mr. Gulla.

Alfredo's Foreign Cars in 1960s
FIAT of Larchmont circa the 1960s. Besides being a Fiat dealer, FIAT of Larchmont was an officially authorized Abarth dealer

Longtime Fiat enthusiasts will recognize the name from Alfredo's Foreign Cars fame, the oldest Fiat dealer in the country. Mr. Gulla became a Fiat dealer in 1961 and became a consistent top dealer in the country throughout Fiat's heydays of the 1960s, '70s, and early '80s. Today, FIAT of Larchmont, located in Westchester County, New York, is still a friendly, family-run business and has the distinction of being the only original Fiat dealer.

Back in 1961, the requirements to be a Fiat dealer were admittedly a lot easier than today - an initial purchase of just 2 cars got you on your way. Today, it takes a major, typically multi-million dollar, commitment to be a Fiat dealer. Looking at the new Fiat of Larchmont Studio, one can see where the money is spent. The facility is beautiful, with a clever bit of Italian design featuring additional parking on the roof - reminiscent of the old Fiat Lingotto plant in Torino. In addition to the facility, a significant purchase of parts, special tools, and training are also required.

When I was there in December, servicing was being done next door at the original Alfredo's Foreign Cars location. This was a treat because the newly renovated building houses a nice collection of classic Fiat memorabilia. Mr. Gulla is one of the preeminent experts on Fiat Group cars with personal contacts that included the late Gianni Agnelli.

Fiat Trin Cam
Posters and displays of cutaway engines keep you occupied while service work is done. This late 1960s cutaway Fiat Twin Cam engine came direct from Torino.

In addition to being a Fiat dealer, in 1967, Mr. Gulla signed on as an authorized Abarth dealer and knows the cars very well. Alfredo's Foreign Cars was also a noted Alfa Romeo dealer and consistently the country's number one Maserati dealer.

Maserati BiTurbo

I have a fond memory of visiting his dealership twenty-plus years ago and witnessing the blistering takeoff of a Maserati Biturbo - the sound of the twin-turbo V6 wailing and seeing the Torsen differential scrambling in vain to put all the power down had people on the sidewalk stopping in their tracks with their jaws open.

1960s Fiat 500 US Spec
Something you will not see very often: a rare US Spec 1960s Fiat 500. Note the sealed beam headlamp modification.

If you are a interested in a Fiat 500 or are a Fiat enthusiast, and are in the New York tri-state area, you owe it to yourself to visit FIAT of Larchmont.

Excitement, passion, and enthusiasm are what separate Italian cars from the rest of the mundane mainstream cars. With Fiat dealers like Alfredo Gulla and FIAT of Larchmont, you are in good hands.

New York - 1-888-405-2249

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Unknown said...

Great B&W photo in front of the old storefront. Liking that 124AC Sport Coupe.

Anonymous said...

very nice Alfa Spider for sale too!

Jim McKenzie said...

I believe the black and white photo with the two 850 Sport Spiders is of Groucho Marx and his family. I was sen the exact same photo on another board, and that's what they claimed. Tough for my old eyes to make out, plus he is not in his mousache makeup...but that's why this photo has endured supposedly.