So.....Who's gonna buy a Fiat?

Does anyone really think this Chrysler/Fiat partnership is gonna be successful? My heart wants to see Chrysler survive but my mind tells me …

Fiat is not a strong name in America. Fiat cars imported to the USA years ago were designed for “home market” use, ie Italy. The biggest issue was rusting bodies and frames particularly in the areas of the US where road salt is spread in winter.

While I never owned Fiats I’ve known the cars and driven several that were owned by friends. The motors were solid, few transmission issues, and compared to English cars few electrical and wiring issues. In other words not bad cars execpt the bodies didn’t hold up well.

It has been many years since Fiats were imported and over that time they have evolved into building “world” cars. Learning from their past mistakes and combined with Chrysler’s experience in America I think they could produce a good solid, reliable, and long lasting line of cars to sell in America. I think it was a Fiat 128 from the 60’s that had a transverse mounted engine, front wheel drive, with a boxy 4 door body that was extremely roomy inside, got very good mpg, was peppy, handled well, and was genuinely fun to drive. If they could do it then, I’m sure they are doing it now.

Yep, if the best car to meet my needs had a Fiat brand on it I’d have no issues buying it as long as there were dealers and parts available to service it.

Yes the 128 had a coupe version and used to win a lot of rally s. I had a Lancia which was the twin sister of Fiat. Strong engine and tranny. The body was prone to rusting, mostly due to poor design of the water draining system. It was front wheel drive and in an era of rear wheel drive cars the suspension held up pretty well (considering my driving style at the time!).

The problem that most people seem to have at this point is that they are making the automatic assumption that Fiat has never moved beyond the poor quality level that they were known for many years ago. If US and Japanese auto makers were able to improve their quality over that same time period, it stands to reason that Fiat has had a chance to do the same, and their relative success in European sales would seem indicate that their current quality is at least decent.

Can I guarantee that the newer Fiats are excellent quality? No, I can’t, but by the same token, few people in this US-based forum can tell us with absolute authority that the Fiats of today are not good cars.

Things change, and if we hold onto opinions formed years ago, based on vastly different products, we have a strong possibility of being wrong. Let’s keep an open mind, folks.

I never thought KIA or Hyundai would be sucessful, I was wrong there. The KIA and Hyundai example shows it is possible to escape a poor quality lable. Don’t you think FIAT/Chrysler can make a car at least as good as a Rio?

Can Fiat/Chrysler make a car at least as good as a Rio?

Since they haven’t even tried yet we don’t know.

But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say they can produce a quality car. The problem remains: are enough people going to buy cars from the partnership to keep it afloat? There are so many manufacturers/models to choose from I don’t think they can make enough of an inroad in market share.

I’ll tell you who is going to buy a Fiat…Chrysler devotees!

Say, if Fiat buys Chrysler and Team Obama gives them a $6 Billion bailout, are we then subsidizing our friends the Italians?

Chrysler managed to turn Mercedes around…for the worse.

I’ve had two Fiats 124 spyders and one 128 sedan – they were all great cars! Cheap to buy, easy to fix and fun to drive! Looking forward to Alfa and Fiat returning to the good old US of A. No worse than what Detroit has been peddling as cars for the past many years. I also drove a Lada Zhugli for five years living and working in Moscow. It was the best of Italian engineering combined with the best of Russian manufacturing and quality control. A one-year-old Lada was worth more than a new one as the owner had a whole year to fix the problems it had when made.

As others said, Fiat made some fun cars – great drive trains in rust bucket bodies. I’ve had some fond memories in my Fiats.


Fiat’s quality and reliability has improved immensely since they were last sold in North America. Their powertrains are much better as well. Fiat cars are now exciting and very space-efficient. So, if Obama legislates small cars, both Fiat and Ford (with their Fiesta) will do well.

However, Fiat’s president, who grew up in Canada and spent a lot of time in Detroit will be aware of the hostile and corrosive environment cars face in The US and Canada. Most European cars now also have the full rust protection and guarantees.

Unfortunately, Toyota and Honda have set the bar for reliability and long life. If Fiat builds cars to Chrysler standards, they will fail miserably.

The original Honda Civic was a joke! My friend bought one for his wife in 1975, and within a year the driver’s door hinges had rusted through, causing the door to fall off!

Fiat is now under very enlightened leadership and is constantly improving. They may just pull it off.

We’ll see what happens after the bankruptcy proceedings conclude. Until then, there is not much sense in speculating. Enough creditors believe that they will get more in court than they would have until now. It’s hard to say how this will shake out.

Obviously the partnership of Mercedes and Chyrsler didn’t work. Maybe putting Fiat together with Chrysler will fail too. One thing that is different about Fiat. They have a lot of experience making small and medium sized cars that are affordable, reliable, and have some style. MB was focused on big high end cars.

Chrysler’s small and mid sized cars are not very “strong” vehicles. Perhaps Fiat can help strengthen a weakness at Chrysler. The larger cars, specialty cars, trucks, and vans from Chrysler are pretty good and will give Fiat access to an area where they aren’t strong at the moment. Perhaps this is a more complimentary matchup.

It maybe dreaming, but it just might work! The Lee Iococca turn around with the K-car saved Chrysler once. Perhaps it will be a Fiat designed small car that can save Chrysler once again.

Just what do you think this ultra high tech “small car technology” could consist of? KIA and Hyundai bought all their tech. off the shelf. Something doesn’t sound right with the value placed upon this technology.

You good ole bouys keep knocking Chrysler but I have had several
chrysler/Dodge vehicles and I think they were very reliable machines. I bought a '66 Dodge Monico Wagon new and it was a great car. I had a '73 Newport which was a good car, an 83 Dodge pickup as good as any pickup, two Dodge minivans were good, a new '94 Dodge pickup was great, and now have a '96 Dodge 2500 Ram van which I believe is as good as Chevy or Ford. I will admit that Chrysler has sold alot of junk over the years also.


I had a '71 Charger (my first car!), and it was decent in terms of reliability. The brakes were really weak, and the gas mileage (with the standard 318!) was pathetic, but the car was comfortable, reliable, and a real chick magnet. Prior to that, my father owned a '63 Plymouth which was economical and reliable. However, that was then, and this is now.

Most of your experience with Mopars goes back many years, and it appears that your newest Chrysler product is at least 13 years old. If you take a look at the reliability ratings in Consumer Reports, you will find that Chrysler lags both 2nd place GM and 1st place Ford in terms of reliability of its newer vehicles. The absolute worst car on the market in terms of reliability is the Chrysler Sebring convertible, with a reliability rating that is an incredible 283% worse than the average car.

Additionally, when test driven by CR’s engineers, in comparison with the competition, NONE of Chrysler’s current models was recommended. Clearly, many things at Chrysler need fixing.

I am glad that I experienced the pleasure of driving my old Charger, and I am glad that you have had good experience with your Chrysler products, but since neither of us has owned any of their recent products, our experiences are totally unrelated to the company’s current level of quality, which needs much improvement.

I am not knocking Chrysler. In a post I said “The larger cars, specialty cars, trucks, and vans from Chrysler are pretty good.” All car mfg’s have some very good cars and some not so hot models. In Chrysler’s case they could use more competitive small and mid-size cars which happens to be a strength of Fiat.

Dodge trucks are very competitive with Ford and GM. The Chrysler 300 was a great seller although now is due for a refresh. I believe Chrysler can come back and would love to see it happen. It will take a couple of very good cars that sell in large numbers to build turnaround momentum.

Many readers may not remember the K-car, but it was a real phenom in its day. Gas had gone from $0.30 a gallon up to $1.50 a gallon in about 3 months due to OPEC. Americans were scrambling because there was gas rationing and long gas lines at many stations. The K-car came along with enough interior room to fit a family and about 2 to 3 times the mpg of other cars offered by Ford and GM. They sold a bunch of K-cars, and quickly made a wagon and convertible versions of the car. Then a few years later came the first mini-van which was a K-car frame, engine, and transmission in a taller boxy body. Good mpg and room for the family, an instant hit.

When gas got relatively cheap Chrysler put its energy into the larger cars and trucks and made good profits. They didn’t put nearly as much energy into development of compact cars, and neither did Ford and GM. Now that lapse has created a hole in their car line that high gas prices has put at the fore as demand for small cars is high and demand for big cars and trucks is low.

The challenge for Chrysler is more difficult today. When the K-car was introduced the Japanese cars were around but not in high volume like they are today. Korean cars, and Chinese cars didn’t exist. Today there is lots of competition in small cars and the quality of those cars is very high. The K-car had lots of faults but it was OK for the times. Today Chrysler has to meet the standards that are a lot higher and Fiat can help them do that. Fiat is competing pretty effectively in the small car market around the world already.

Fiat has a better chance than Mercedes of pulling this off. Some of the reasons for the previous marriage not working:

  1. Mercedes was clueless about the North American mass market and the selling of cheap cars.

  2. Mercedes management was totally inflexble and arrogant about running Chrysler; they were (and still are) culturally, emotionally and organizatinally ill-equiped to understand successful US and Japanese business practices. The term “good, cheap, fast” is nowhere in the Mercedes business philosophy!

  3. US manufacturers were further along in implementing Japanese lean manufacturing methods than Mercedes; they were Johnny-come-latelies!

  4. Mercedes showed little capability of handling the UAW. They got taken to the cleaners.

Fiat has gone through a gut-wrenching 5 year re-organization led by a hard-nosed CEO who was raised within a few miles of Detroit, understands the Norh American Mass Market for cars, and is willing to make very radical changes, like Carlos Ghosn at Nissan, to restructue Chrysler. His first action will be to remove the entire top tier of managers.

Fiat has a good line of attractive cars with very much improved quality. If the new CEO sets the quality benchmark at the Toyota/Honda level, rather than the accepted European level, they will do well. That should come with a very long warranty, like Kia and Hyundai!

Finally, the return of $4 gas will ensure success for Fiat/Chrysler’s small cars.

If Fiat can help Chrysler build a small car that 1) has the perception of quality; 2) is easily repaired; and 3) becomes a ‘cult’ car, Chrysler may just survive. I remember when the VW Beetle was imported to the U.S. in the late 1950’s. The Beetle gave the perception of quality and was easily repaired. The car was affordable–many college students were driving VW’s–and suddenly it even became chic for geezers to drive the VW. I’ve always thought that had the Neon gave the perception of quality, it might have been the modern day VW Beetle. I have a colleague who drives a Neon–the paint is peeling off in sheets. That didn’t happen on the VW Beetle of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

IMHO, if Chrysler and Fiat can market a poor man’s car that reflects some quality and can make it become a cult car as the VW, this could be Chrysler’s key to survival.

I don’t think VW back in the 1950’s did much in the way of marketing surveys to see what consumers thought they wanted. Instead, VW brought a car to the marketplace and suddenly almost everybody wanted one.

I’m afraid the American market will never be receptive to the Fiat brand again, given the problems many people had with the cars in this country. I suspect many of those problems were due more to neglect than poor quality, although the rust issues no doubt were serious in damp climates. Fiats are still the butt of jokes among car people, so if Chrysler does combine with Fiat, that fact should be downplayed, ignored, or obscured in the new company?s marketing.

Having said that, I drove a ?78 Fiat Spider for many years and enjoyed it immensely. Yes, it had periodic minor issues, but at last report ? 117,000 miles ? it was running strong and was a pleasure to drive (until my son, then 16, wrecked it).

PS: Name of new, combined company? How about Moparoni?