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American Fiat likely kaput!/116862/28a32220af96f7bbd1918d7761c28eee

Not surprising. Fiats are a rare sighting where I live.

Like I said, back in the 60’s, I used to deliver chicken in what looked like the current Fiat 500. You would have thought that in 60 years they would have come up with a different model. No one was thrilled with them back then either. Just had a bad reputation and still have. But in Italy those things are all over the place, old and new but what choice do they have? Too bad they make the Renegade. I’d really like one.

Fiat never did get its stuff together with respect to sales. Went through several sales and marketing execs in the first few years.

Forced dealers to build stand-alone Fiat stores, didn’t give them much product. The product they did get was overpriced, poor quality and unreliable. Pretty much classic Fiat.

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The only Fiat dealer in my area began to feature Alfa Romeos, in addition to Fiats, last year.
Based on how few Alfas I see on the road, I can’t imagine that this dealership is making much of a profit.

I’m shocked. Shocked I tell you!

The 500 is a fun little car but it’s vastly overpriced for what you get. One problem is that dealers have been marking it up, at least around here, by 10 grand, at which point you’re in Miata territory and the choice is a no-brainer.


… and then, there is its reliability record…

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I owned a little Fiat convertible once. Not a bad looking little car but I pushed it more than I drove it.


I went to Harbor Freight the other day and they were having a sale! There were maybe 10 or 11 cars in the lot and three were Fiat 500’s. That is the second largest concentration of Fiats in the area, second only to the dealer. At least these 3 were driven.
I bought a brand new Fiat 124 Coupe in 1974 and didn’t have any problem until the drive home. Within 5 miles the volt meter dropped to zero. My friend the Italian Fiat mechanic diagnosed it over the phone. The big orange wire came loose from the fuse box. After that it was reliable for 2 or so years. A young man had to have it. He blew it up within 2 weeks.
My only other Fiat was a 4 or 5 year old Fiat 850 coupe. I traded a dead VW for it. My wife drove it to work for 2 years or so. Then someone just had to have it.

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I think both Fiat and Chrysler missed the boat in building and marketing their products. I was on college and university campuses as a student and as a faculty member from 1959 through 2011 when I retired. From the late 1950s through at least the mid 1970s, the VW Beetle was popular with both students and faculty. There were several reasons for this: 1) good build quality; 2) relatively low price; 3 economical to operate; 4) easily to repair; 5) strong dealer network; 6) reliable; 7) one model (until the Super Beetle; 8) limited options- at first only a radio was an option; 9) unique appearance. These attributes, IMHO, made the.VW an “in” car.
I think Chrysler had th opportunity to do this with the Neon. The dealer network was established. The build quality was lacking. Make one.model with automatic transmission,.air conditioning, and.sound system standard. Fiat had the same opportunity whe it took over Chrysler, but blew the opportunity.
In these anti-establishment times, GM or Ford could step up to the plate with a “people’s vehicle” and might have a winner.

Correct me if I’m wrong; wasn’t the PT Cruiser built on the Neon platform?

I used to see many PT Cruisers on the road and still see quite a few aging ones. Owners I know tend to keep them many years, swearing there are no other basic small vehicles as affordable, practical, and comfortable.

You’re correct. And they are just as bad, reliability-wise, as the Neon was, but they appeal to a demographic who puts more emphasis on looks than reliability, and the PT Cruiser’s look makes them happy.

The Neon, meanwhile, could at best be described as “kinda cute, if you like that sort of thing,” and the demographic it appealed to was mostly “I’m in college and can’t afford anything better,” and so when they started to fall apart after the students graduated and got a job, they ditched the stupid thing and got something better.

No surprise to me at all. I’ve had a bad taste about Fiat ever since…

Back in the 80s the dealer I worked for called a meeting and advised everyone that they were taking on a Fiat franchise. There was a collective groan and one of the mechanics said “You know what happens to Fiat dealers don’t you? They go broke”. He was said to have a bad attitude and the cars would be fantastic for the company by boosting car sales, parts sales, and also help the service dept.

As it turned out, as a Fiat dealer we could not even get an air filter from them so any parts we used had to come from NAPA down the street. Any parts not available from NAPA were pirated from a brand new X-19 and a Spyder. When the company went under those 2 Fiats were still on racks in the back of the shop; almost gutted beyond recognition.
ALL (as in every single one…) warranty claims were perpetually denied and when the company folded not one of those claims had been paid by Fiat.

Just as bad, at the time they took the franchise on it was in the fall and the new model years for VW and Subaru were hitting the lot.
Two weeks later 2 transport trucks pulled in and the giddy management was tickled pink over them.

They were not so tickled a day later while processing the paper and discovering that those cars were 2 model years old already.
New, true enough. Just a couple of years old new and just as bad was that people were buying them at full retail prices… :wink:

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I’ve three friends with PT Cruisers, all women. They like the ease of getting in and out, good driver visibility all around, and the high back roof line. I’ve ridden with them and thought my 1973 Corolla was more comfortable but wasn’t rude to say so to them. One just had hers totaled in an accident. She wanted a Fiat 500 as a replacement because it looks “cute” but her husband insisted on a more reliable, safer vehicle and got her a used 2016 Subie Outback.

Not everyone!
I had a boss who winced every time that she saw a PT Cruiser, because–according to her–“It looks like Nazi Stormtroopers are going to jump out of it”.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t recall that there were any German cars in the '30s & '40s that looked anything like a PT Cruiser.

Always struck me more like something Al Capone’s gang would get out of, not Nazis. :wink:

Another friend, a guy who is “generously proportioned” has always had Ram trucks, insisting they are the best on the road, even though he has traded them in every few years because of maintenance issues. Recently he gave up on the truck because he can no longer get in and out of its height. So he got a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It seems to have a nice ride and is easier access and egress. I’ll be interested to see how it holds up mechanically compared to the Ram trucks he’s had.

The only reference I can find on line is a Fiat 500 forum, and someone said that 500 sales were down 43% in January compared to 2017. Increasing price in the face of reduced sales doesn’t make sense. It’s more something a dealer would do if sales are brisk.

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I might suspect that they’re down 43% in January because dealers were marking them up to the price of a good sports car. :wink:

Semon (Bunkie) Knudsen changed the image of Pontiac and made the statement “You can sell an old man a young man’s car, but you can’t sell a young man an old man’s car”. By the mid 1960s, even geezers were driving VW Beetles.
I need a vehicle to drive to treat my severe case of Geezerits. We don’t have anything today that will do the job like the VW Beetle did in its time period.