Meet CC5Club

Benvenuti amici!

FIAT FreakOut 2017 is just around the corner. Over a year of preparation was poured into what the national club Vice President dubbed a "Once in a FreakOut" event. We thought now would be a good time for a brief introduction to some of the folks you'll meet when you arrive in Cream City.

Duane Hand: CC5Cruise Coordinator, 2017 FFO Planning Committee

Originally from upstate New York, Duane moved to Wisconsin in order to attend Beloit College. He married there and ended up staying in Wisconsin.Duane is a retired Army/Army Reserve veteran and is currently an X-ray Technologist. He bought his first FIAT 500, a giallo 2012 Sport, looking for something economical but fun... Something happened (he's not sure what is was) but now he's hopelessly hooked on FIATs! Duane traded that giallo 500S for a grigio 500 GQ.

Willie Carter: CC5C member, 2017 FFO Planning Committee

Willie bought his 1974 X1/9 eight years ago (sight unseen) for a whopping $800USD. 'Took a 1998 FIAT Punto block and had that built for the X motor. 'Modifications to have a complete unique car that fits his personality. 'Still a project with lots of work still going on. Before he got his X, he had a 1974 124 Spider that was a project... just to give him something to do in his spare time. That's what got him hooked on vintage Fiats. Now, besides his X, he has an '81 Spider 2000 project and a 2014 Fiat 500 Pop pulls duty as his daily driver.

Do you have a story to tell? Do you want to show off your FIAT? Send in your photo/s and your tale. We're happy to share them here.

See you sooner than later.





Get Centered: West to the East

Benvenuti amici!

I published a modestly popular entry that "chronicled" our 2015 holidays to Slovenia, Italy and Austria. I sit down to write this entry in much of the same spirit. This time we visited Japan and Australia. We decided to tether them based on good old fashioned geography. The continents of Asia and Oceania readily checked off our collective bucket list in one tidy trip. This is a blog created by and written for FIAT aficionados. So, I seasoned both courses of my travel images with a couple dashes of 'Cento.

Asia holds a very special place in my heart as well as the heart of the missus (when the subject is Japan). So, Japan we chose to receive the lion's share of our time abroad. Arguably the best time to visit the island(s) nation is during the Sakura a/k/a Cherry Blossom season. It's a perfect time of year to reflect and get re-focused and/or centered. Thus, the title of this entry.

See the sights via foot, bicycle, taxi, bus and train if you ever choose to see Japan. Every method of transport offers a different perspective of this simple yet complex place. This trip marks my second time to this wonderful country. I also enjoy the benefit of having friends to visit there.

 Animation, Collectibles and Comics...

... Pop Culture is near sport in Japan

Sunshine, overcast skies or rain...

 ... Prepare to experience all in Japan

There is no shortage of places to blow your mind. Japan is a country that steps boldly into the future with one foot firmly planted in history. This theme has been chronicled in past blog entries about what helps make FIAT S.p.A. so special to me. A visit to the magical place cannot be reduced to the feeling of driving a FIAT for the first time, but the following summarization of what I believe to be true about the Japan Experience could also be used to describe my first drive in a small, economical Italian runabout  "There are two ways to come away from a visit to Japan; 1) you check it off your bucket list, or, 2) a piece of your heart forever remains in the Land of the Rising Sun."

A discovery during a trip to the countryside...

... Feeding massive Koi at a meditation pond...

... Hidden delights for the wandering eye...

... Not to be forgotten historic treasures...

 ... Famous cross-sections: Organized chaos...

... Find one's true place in the masses...

... Marvel at what man has wrought for fun...

... Set aside time for the so-called mundane...

 ... Urban carwash? Nothing is "just" in Nippon

 Check the plate on this Tokyo runabout

Next stop... the Land Down Under. I'm not sure any two countries can be as different as Australia is to Japan. The largest island nation in the world is very modern despite efforts to hold to their traditions and create an architectural historic register. That, in itself, is a stark difference to the effortlessness Japanese ability to marry their past with their present and future. Australians, in spite of their recent "service industry boom", are still in process of learning to be hosts to the world. The Japanese put blood, sweat and tears into the "art of servitude" on every level and the difference could not be bolder.

Aussies may not agree or appreciate me claiming as much, but I liken their landscapes, cityscapes and people to the country and people with whom I coexist in the USA. They're "cowpokes"... just as we are. Their history is stained with activities born of early British exploration. They struggle with grasping theirs is a nation of "immigrants" and what the fact means in the present day. Their cities and outback resemble our cities and deserts.

But they also have some of the coolest native creatures this side of Dr. Seuss. That is something 100% Aussie. Seeing and "interacting" with 'roos, koalas and wallabies... as well as breaking away from the city... is not to be missed. This was true for us and, I imagine, it is true for the majority of visitors to the largest land mass of Oceania.

Fast food is sweeping over every society on the planet. This frustrating, for some, reality has given rise to "fast food alternatives" like Grill'd. This local chain decorates their space with impressive wallpaper of brilliant black & white illustrations and messages like the one below.

Australia, by virtue of how it was settled, offers accessible beaches to a great deal of her inhabitants. We chose to visit two of said beaches. They're clean and beautiful. Sunbathers, swimmers, surfers, and skaters share these spaces in what feels like perfect harmony. Relaxation is something Aussies do quite well... 'good news for weary and overworked visitors. Don't care much for playing and/or resting at the beach? No problem. Go for a hike at Blue Mountains. Just do some research prior to heading out and you'll find what it is you seek in this Western society that resides in the East.

Back to the city and more pedestrian exploration. Many of the travel photos I take I'm sure have been taken by many... MANY... people before. So, I always try to snap a few of things that may only bear some significance to me. Full disclosure: I don't typically share those images. I keep them as a private time capsule of my experience of the world around us. That stated... I did take a few I knew I'd share here. I leave you with these images and the wish for you to travel and enjoy the world as well as her inhabitants.

See you sooner than later...

An artwork that conjured thoughts of diesel gate

The UK chose the A595 Competizione. Australia?

Another cool license plate on another sweet 500





FIAT FreakOut MKE Is Live!

Benvenuti amici!

The 34th annual FIAT FreakOut 2017 National Convention is officially live - after nearly two years of plotting, pitching, submission, approval, brainstorming, meeting, planning, decision-making and initial funding!

Nearly two years? you ask. Yes. You correctly read that. The idea to allow a, now, three years young local chapter to host the infamous national happening will be just a month shy of two years old when the event kicks off July 19th of this year. Quite frankly, the fact we're a mere four months away from Get'cher Freak On Time in Cream City is just beginning to truly sink in.

So, how did this still fledgling Midwestern FIAT/ABARTH club manage to snag the "grand prize" that is FreakOut? You can read about it in detail here... The 10 word answer is Bobb, Bryan, Doug, Duane, Joe, Mike, Pat, Sean, Thad, Willie. That short & sweet list of people encouraged & supported the ideas and efforts of this "FIAT Freak" with ideas and efforts of their own. Truman said, "It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit," and truer words have scarcely been spoken and/or written. That stated, I would be remiss if I failed to call those individuals out. Each individual shared an idea or offered their service in some way that plays big into this coming together in a relatively short amount of time.

Now, you know the "secret" of how this FreakOut came together. You can host your own FreakOut, right? Well... not so fast. We've only covered plot, pitch, submit, approve, meet and plan. That leads us to making decisions. I formed our local planning committee based upon personal voiced interest in making this happen and individual availability. "Make" and "available" are the operative terms necessary to get from page to practice. You'll have the chance to meet the local people responsible for offering one of the coolest FreakOuts ever as you participate in the activities in our itinerary. But it takes more than the help of a handful of individuals to see something like this to fruition...

... It also takes funding. The national club takes on a considerable percentage of the financial burden of hosting the event itself. Accommodations, the Welcome Dinner and the Awards Banquet, you can imagine, are major expenditures. Only a portion of attendees will likely choose to stay at the hotel chosen as our host accommodations or take part in our fantastic Awards Banquet. The national club takes on the risk of covering what attendance does not. Looking for ways to help mitigate said risk is essential to supporting our national Board of Directors. We chose cool but inexpensive activities and forged early partnerships with Palmen Alfa Romeo-FIAT (Road America), Reina International Auto (Road America) and Schlossmann FIAT (Concorso and MKE FIAT GeoDash). We also recruited the assistance of VISIT Brookfield and VISIT Milwaukee. Those agents played key roles keeping itinerary events affordable.

Finally, and quite possibly most importantly, we enjoy a tremendous amount of shared passion with the international, national, regional, local and online communities. We look forward to "getting our freak on" with you this summer. HAPPY INT'L WOMEN'S DAY...

(Respect to the artists responsible for the images)




Happy Twenty-seventeen!

Benvenuti amici!

Twenty-sixteen is gone/Twenty-seventeen is here and we turn back for one last glimpse at what a fine time we're having. In excess of 700 people (from all over the world) follow our Facebook page and we are approaching 70 thousand visits to this blog - thanks to an uptick in daily check-ins. We're eternally grateful for your interest and support... and strive to continue adding a little something extra to your FIAT-ABARTH life experience.

The founding of our local club, also the Wisconsin Chapter of FIAT Club America, and the the purpose of this blog... as published in our very first entry... is to celebrate the long line of automobiles ordered, approved, designed, financed and/or manufactured in Torino since 1899. "If you build it they will come" proved itself to be true when Sean Kane joined our second meeting with his X1/9. That beautifully maintained machine holds a special spot as the first non-500 on our roster.

We are elated to see more vintage and contemporary FIATs continue join our Facebook community and varied list of Wisconsin events. The growth (quite frankly) is exactly what we always dreamt it would be but never dared expect to see in such a short amount of time. Our local membership, as well as our Facebook and blog readership, has gone as global as the brand itself. See; the photo below.

Zastava joins the CC5C membership roster

Followers of this blog and the CC5C Facebook page are well aware of the fact we intend to turn up the heat in 2017. The addition of a CC5C event planning committee is tasked with fine-tuning our itinerary of local events and their first goal met is hosting FIAT Club America's national convention called FIAT FreakOut. This annual event is, to date, the largest gathering of FIAT and ABARTH aficionados in North America and will team with Milwaukee's Festa Italiana for their 40th anniversary.

To my knowledge, marks the only time Cream City... and/or Wisconsin... has hosted a FIAT-specific national convention. We take the opportunity very seriously and itinerary submitted and approved by our Board of Directors will reflect the fact.

Panorama: FIAT FreakOut 2015 Pittsburgh

In short, the horizon looks bright for Cream City 500 Club. The 2016 creation of the aforementioned planning committee will help keep our ideas fresh and exciting... as well as help forge stronger relationships with local businesses. Interest in our brand of motoring mayhem is steadily expanding beyond our city, metropolitan, state, regional and national borders. Our relationship to FIAT Club America, as a regional chapter, is helping push the presence of the aged 33 years club further west. And you continue to make our efforts more fun than we may deserve.

On behalf of the current CC5C Planning Committee thank YOU for your support. Bryan, Duane, Joe, Pat, Sean, Willie & I trust sharing our labor of love will inspire you to join your local community of aficionados and spread Passion, Purpose and Peace across the globe.

See you on the road sooner than later...





From Kragujevac, with Love!

Benvenuti amici!

Many childhood dreams have been born of the automobile industry. This blog entry focuses on one such local dream and how it came to be.

Our tale begins in Kragujevac... the first capital of the modern Republic of Serbia... 1954. The vast majority of Europe, East to West, was still struggling to put itself back together after the Second World War... ten years later a child would be born in the Serbian city and his parents would emigrate to the United States of America. He would grow into a proud USAmerican man with an unquenchable passion for his birthplace. Today you're invited to ride shotgun with me and this man.

CC5C: Introduce yourself to our readers.

Pep: Hi, my name is Pep Stojanovic and I was born in the former Yugoslavia way back in '64.  brought over by my parents in 1967. had visitors from Yugoslavia (YU) or went to YU every year from 1972 onward.

CC5C: This entry is (obviously) about the Yugoslav connection to FIAT S.p.A.. How do you find yourself connected to this relationship?

Pep: I went [home] every summer from '76-'83... which is when I really became very fond of these cars, especially the Zastava 1300.

[During those summers] Being in the Detroit  of YU, the city of Kragujevac was where I was born & visited and where Zastava existed since the late 1800s (cannon and munitions plant). It began life as a car manufacturer during the early '50s -- just after WWII.

I was fascinated how small the 750 was/is (everything in America in the '70s was larger than they could comprehend, even what we called compacts)! I liked how the cars translated into societal positions from the 750 to the 101 to the 1300 then onto the Ladas and FIAT 132s... at the very top of the communist party hierarchy.

'Always dreamed of having one of my own here, or there, but mostly here. In 2016, I realized this dream (the automotive path out of Serbia to Milwaukee WI).

My family's first car over there (uncle's side that remains in Serbia to this day) -- oddly enough -- was a YU 125pz from Poland. [Accomplished only with] financial help from my grandfather, then living in the US, for sure. That would have otherwise been a very tall order for your average Serbians. We were an agricultural and a Man-with-a-Truck biz level family.

Their next car was a FIAT 125p (Polish-built 125) which I later got to use with my American friend, Scott Jornlin, when we went over there in 1983... after graduating high school. My family had just purchased a FIAT 128, not sure if Zastava made that or not, though.

*Editor's note: Zastava officially launched their YU-only range of vehicles with the 101 family of cars... it was based on the FIAT 128.

Pep: Since falling in love with these cars, more the fact they were built in my YU hometown, and a general appreciation for FIAT/Italian design, I was/am hooked on them BIG TIME.

CC5C: That is a really cool and heartwarming story. We've visited some of these models in our Going GlobalMachine MigliorePiccola FIAT pieces. But this... your... personal anecdote adds an all too important amount of soul to the mix.

You mentioned 2016 being the year you realized the dream of owning/driving a Zastava on our shores. Tell us more about that.

Pep: I formed JugoAutomobili, Inc. as a vehicle to engage in several [varied] automotive ventures, including; investment for sale of domestic classic cars, leasing service equipment to classic car shops, and starting a joint classic car storage venture with the purchase of eight 2-car lifts. However, the main focus -- hence the name -- was to make an effort in bringing various Zastava models to the USA. [My hope is] one day achieving a critical mass of, say, 10-20 cars (if not more) to establish a Zastava Fan Club in the US... specifically the Midwest.

*Editor's note: This reads like the possibility for an expansion team style arm of FIAT Club America... "Zastava Club America". But that's a story for another day.

Pep: So, I bought the 1977 Zastava 1300, built under license from Fiat 1300, to keep for myself... and to advertise what is potentially available... and two other cars -- a '79 and an '83 Zastava 750 (based on the FIAT 600 w/ larger power output and some minor cosmetic changes).

Given the interest I've uncovered, here, we are actively searching for top end 1300s now. The 750s have been rising in price for a long time and everyone has been neglecting the other cars in Zastavas history... especially the 1300 a/k/a the Yugoslav Mercedes Benz.

CC5C: That is great! Will you introduce any other models to the available range from Cream City's JugoAutomobili Inc.?

Pep: I would like to add a few more to the mix over the coming year or two. We'll tighten our focus on the 750s (to try and find more examples up to '68 -- those cars were made with suicide doors). They are getting pricier all the time over there as they become rarer and rarer. At the same time, I would like to focus on 750s from '69-'76 (more metal on them). But I would also consider high end examples from '77-'85 (final year of production was '85). Suffice to say, for now, those late models may be modified to give them more punch to their classic looks. 

A secondary focus will be to get a few examples in my own collection of the Zastava 101.  'Not sure what appeal these would have to ex-Yugoslavs (as well as others) with incurable car loving nostalgia, but I wouldnt mind a couple specimens for myself at very least.

In the works for introduction in the coming year or two, assuming my shipping costs can stay at or less or worst case only mildly more expensive than this first batch, include;

1971 Zastava AR-55 (hardtop version based on the FIAT Campagnola. Lightly restored, mechanically refreshed, and new shoes (wheels and tires)... in order to preserve the military patina it has achieved over the years. Originally a Yugoslav Army Jeep that eventually became a hunting vehicle for a private citizen.

1964 Milletrecento; made by FIAT, ordered by a dentist in YU, sold and rebadged a Zastava. (The doc couldn't wait for a YU-built version.) Seeing as how it is a 1300, my favorite car and my birth year, this one I am living with 'til I die... and then dying with 'til I am resurrected. 'Not sure if I can pull off being tucked away in the trunk, with the car entombed above ground in some kind of long lasting glass, but one thing at a time. HaHa!

1971 Zastava 1300 though very luxe/lusso version. This one, only acquired this past week, has the very rare and EXPENSIVE option to be had back in its day; a rear seat with a fold out center armrest. This one has been restored to a very [Read; VERY] high level, with mechanicals to boot. Starts up at 32 degree ambient temperature like a modern day fuel injected car! 'Did not think I would be able to 1-up my own 1300 so quickly. But my Serbia-based partner is very good at searching through the barns and bushes of the countryside.

FIAT-Zastava 1300/1500

1959 Zastava 600 (highly restored model -- close to original specs). It's a show car that will be a piece of jewelry... representing a very rare decade. The cars, that eventually grew into the 750s, were introduced in 1955 and are scarcely found these days. I would imagine, with a top speed of about 35 miles per hour, that it will enjoy life as a show car or a collection jewel. It represents the FIAT licensing expansion strategy very well in that it is a mix of FIAT and Zastava. (They were probably 60-70 % FIAT in these early years.)

FIAT 600D/Zastava 750

Zastava 125PZ

1972 Zastava 101 (total restoration to original factory condition). New original Zastava stamped panels will be used, as will original seats recently discovered in immaculate condition.

1977 Zastava 101... A total restoration using new original Zastava stamped panels. This one is going to take a more playful direction. 'Going to lower it, paint it groovy, get some neat wheels and tires from the period, and custom install a substantial soundsystem in it. 'Going for the '70s vibe with some playful touches. The engine will be original/as manufactured a/k/a FIAT made!! It will also set itself apart by being mated to a 5-spd transmission.

FIAT 128/Zastava 101

Zastava 102/Yugo 45

Zastava Florida


Later, I want to delve further into the Eastern European automakers scene. [We'll be] identifying cars that still remain way below the radar, if not completely off the grid, to make more interesting my collection. Please stay tuned for those immigrants hopefully coming in the longer term.

CC5C: Wow! It appears, thanks to Pep & JugoAutomobili Inc, we'll soon see some of the other legendary runabouts, pictured above, join the modern Serbian-built FIAT 500L on our Cream City streets. On that subject, how did you find yourself in the mix with Cream City 500 Club and FIAT Club America?

Pep: In the absence of a Zastava community with which to celebrate, show, and enjoy these cars, I knew that a local FIAT club would be an ideal fit for me and them. The folks over at Reina suggested I inquire. I was apprehensive at first (dreading how my Zastava-made FIAT knockoffs would be received). I was fearful that if we were not a pure Italian FIAT then we could not play together.  I was thrilled that my inquiry about joining was not only met positively, affirmatively, and very welcoming, but I was ecstatic when the club encouraged the gathering we had at Valenti Classics on Nov 5, 2016. The only problem (now) is having to wait until next year's driving season to continue the fun, socializing, and experiences (driving the cars and meeting new friends, metal machined kind and in the flesh human kind).

I am glad that my cars and I will be a part of your group. I just hope that everyone else that buys one joins in as well.

CC5C: You and ALL FIAT aficionados are welcome, Pep. Thanks for taking the time to formally introduce yourself, your machines and your brilliant dream-become-reality to our community. And thank you for helping us educate the USAmerican FIAT crowd on the longstanding global vision of the automaker. See you on the road soon, my friend.

Well, that's all for now. JugoAutomobili, Inc., Cream City 500 Club and FIAT Club America look forward to introducing you to the border busting world of FIAT at FIAT FreakOut 2017.

Until then, as always...