Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From Naples to Venice at 38 mpg

The New York Times had a clever idea: buy one of those ridiculously unAmerican Fiats that are supposed to rescue Chrysler Corp from bankruptcy, drive it from Naples in Maine to Venice in Florida, and report on the experience. Of course the report is mostly favorable: the Good People are eager for the rest of us to drive underpowered, undersized, and overpriced ($20,000 for a Fiat?) automobiles, while they continue to jet between time zones and be met at the airport by Town Cars and stretch limos. (Or, in the case of Barack Obama, airlift a land yacht to Ireland and let it get stuck on a speed bump.)

One other complaint about an otherwise commendable review: the author assumes that the Cinquecento was born with the 1957 model. Not so! I hitchhiked many a mile through Italy in 1955, catching rides in the true original, the Fiat 500 that originated in 1936. The NYT correspondent faulted the rather cramped back seat of the current model--hey, he should have tried those that came out of the Fix It Again Tony factory in the immediate postwar years! They had no back seat at all. If I was the third passenger in the Topolino (as it was also called), I had to sit crosswise with my knees up to my chin. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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