Saturday, September 6, 2014

An Introduction

I started this blog to tell an ongoing story, a tale of joys and sadness, of exhilarating speed and stationary doldrums.  And we'll get to that story, but first, some introduction.

I grew up a car guy.  Had I a dollar for every hour I worked on cars with my Dad as a kid, I wouldn't be writing this blog right now.  It seemed like every weekend was devoted to keeping the family fleet on the road.  I loved every minute of it, spending time with my old man, fetching tools, turning wrenches.  As I got older, I developed an understanding that this is what dudes do.

Some years later, when I had some money in my pocket, I considered buying a half-assembled old jalopy as a Father's Day gift for my Dad.  I thought it would be the ultimate father-son project, and we'd reconnect as men through a common labor of love.  When I told my Mother about the idea, she put down her coffee cup and said "There's no really good way to cushion this so I'll just come out with it - your father hated working on cars and only did it because we were too poor to buy anything decent".

I was crestfallen, but I still held onto the belief that I was a dude, and cars are what us dudes just do.

Fast forward to the middle '90s.  I'm a single guy out on my own with a few bucks in his pocket, and I happened upon a cute little 1973 Fiat 850 Spider for sale.  It was clown green, didn't run very well, and was extremely cheap.  I fell hard for that little car and started to attend some annual gatherings of like-minded Italian car enthusiasts.  Fiat ownership became my life.

Over time, my addiction grew.  I bought another 850 Spider as a project and then an '87 Bertone X1/9 and finally an '80 Fiat Spider 2000.  The Spider 2000 won a couple awards at various club functions, and at that point, the hook was finally set.

The Fiat car club was an "orphan" car club, people bound together by their affection for machines that were made by a company that had abandoned North America in the early 1980s.  While we all really enjoyed tinkering on our cars and reveling in keeping them on the road in spite of the scarcity of parts, most of us secretly wished that Fiat would come back to the New World and energize the next generation of enthusiasts.

And they did finally, in 2010.  That's a story for another time.

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