Being About The Legend

Benvenuti amici!

I am back with you following my semi-retirement from Car Culture Lifestyle blogging and my formal retirement from leading the local FIAT-ABARTH club I founded in 2013. The reason for my reprisal... unfortunately... is a very sad one.

Sergio Marchionne, the famed and (quite frankly) one of the greatest automaker CEOs of all-time fell ill last week. It was reported he underwent invasive surgery last month and his grave illness was connected to his body's reaction to it. I could go into further detail, but you have no doubt already read the multitude of reports that surfaced since last Thursday. He passed into the next today.

I am a creative realist. People like this man tend to become my life heroes.

The motivation behind what will be my final e-publication to this blog is simple... I want to honor the man responsible for saving the ABARTH, Chrysler, Dodge and FIAT brands. I want to honor the man who made Jeep & RAM brands more relevant than ever before. I want to honor the man responsible for relaunching Alfa Romeo in true Alfa style... "Italians know how to build great cars." I want to honor the man responsible for reviving Maserati from the doldrums to which the brand was stuck for some time. I want to honor the man who lit fire under the arse of Scuderia Ferrari... "A Ferrari that does not win is not a Ferrari." I want to honor the man who, only last month, announced FCA would report out completely debt-free profit by the end of this month... July 2018. I want to honor the man responsible for the livelihoods of over two hundred thousand people around the world. What have we done in the past 14 years? And I'm certain I'm only scratching the surface of his brilliant legacy.

Don Sergio Marchionne was much more than a "fix-it" man. He was fearless. He was creative. He was visionary. He was an apparent man of his word... He made public oaths to reopen plants around Italy as well as the rest of the countries in which FCA is active and he methodically worked hard toward making good on said oaths. He was a loving father.

Many news outlets falsely and ignorantly claimed FCA "replaced" Sr. Sergio with a new CEO. No one can take the place of Our Honorable Departed. I cannot say how FCA and Ferrari will look and/or operate without Don Marchionne in their respective orbits. But I can say... beyond a shadow of a doubt... the automobile industry will never look quite the same. So, please, rev your engines with purpose today. We all, FIATisti-ABARTHisti and all petrolheads alike, owe this great HUMAN BEING at least that much. 'A small way this great leader of the modern automobile industry + classic working class hero will LIVE FOREVER...

Vivere. Amare. Guidare.



Benvenuti Amici!

Every few months we feature owner experiences. It's become something of a tradition to "capture" the experiences of the well-traveledthe adventurousthe passionate. and the inspired. Sometimes the owners find themselves inspired enough to start businesses and, in doing so, inspire other drivers. Sometimes the owners find themselves inspired enough to seek adventures beyond their daily driving experience. This blog entry is meant to pack all of these FIAT life experiences in one tidy holiday package... just for you.

I recently spent some e-time with FIAT500USA regular, Robert Nixon. Robert Nixon (RN). Nixon, among many other things, is a fellow blogger. He and Brian Nixon publish Nixon Motor Sports, a blog they use to share their burning passion for petrol-driven competition.

Team Nixon Motor Sports

CC5C: Model?

RN: I ordered by FIAT 500 Abarth in 2012, and took delivery in September of that year. This is a 2013 model.

CC5C: How are you involved with your local and/or the greater FIAT/ABARTH community?

RN: My main involvement with FIAT is as a moderator on the FIAT500USA forum. I like to attend car shows, local Cars and Coffee events, and try to keep up with the auto industry a little bit. 

CC5C: Why FIAT/ABARTH? What is the primary use of your car?

RN: My Abarth is my daily driver, so I’ve been very happy with it for over 59,000 miles so far. I was attracted to the Italian heritage of the company, and figured that I couldn’t afford a new Ferrari or Maserati, so the return of FIAT to the US got my attention! After test driving the regular 500 and the Abarth, I voted with my gas pedal foot and went for the Abarth. 

CC5C: How long have you tracked your FIAT/ABARTH? What competitions do you take part in?

RN: With the Abarth I started to autocross in 2013, and it’s been a great way to have fun, meet more car fans, and also learn a lot more about my car in general. Thanks to my job I’ve had to move a few times, so I’ve competed at events sponsored by various Sports Car Club of America and other clubs in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Earlier this year I drove the Abarth on track at a two-day National Auto Sport Association (NASA) event with an instructor, and that was really fun.

Proof Positive Daily Drivers Can Be Fun

CC5C: Wow! So, you actually track your daily driver?! I think that's an important point for people interested in the brand(s) but uncertain about reliability. Can you speak to that?

RN: The beefier stock suspension on the Abarth enables it to hold up fine on a track day. It’s not going to be a NASCAR or Indy car experience, but it is a ton of fun to drive non-competitive track events. Other great car experiences I’ve had in the FIAT are charity events where you can get on track for a short stint just by donating a toy or money to a charity. Not a race or anything, but I’ve enjoyed at least a few laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Darlington, Martinsville, and Virginia International Raceway (VIR) and always had fun doing it for a good cause. 

CC5C: And is tracking a daily driver common? Do you see that a lot? Is there anything else you'd like to add to this point?

RN: I’d estimate that tracking your daily driver is common, but that at some point if you really get into track events with SCCA, NASA, or other groups that you’ll want a dedicated track car. To go with all the racing required safety gear (seat, harness, roll cage, etc.) is a big step up from just doing a high performance driver event with just a helmet and regular seat belts.

CC5C: How have you placed? How has your FIAT/ABARTH held up under the intensity of competition?

RN: At the local event level I think the Abarth is competitive in the SCCA H Street class this year, but it’s not seen much at the big national level events. With fewer drivers at local events I’ve won my class for the past three years, but the main thing for me is having fun driving! The Abarth has held up in great condition to a regular diet of autocross, and like any other car if you compete with it you’ll want to have better tires. I’ve got a second set of wheels and tires for autocross events. Other than regular maintenance of oil changes, spark plugs, and checking fluid levels, I replaced the brake pads this year so that I’d have plenty of pad for the track event. Even then, after four years of autocross, the stock brake pads were performing fine, although the fronts were due to be changed, the rear pads had plenty of life left. In other words, the stock Abarth can take whatever you throw at it!

Stickers Add 10hp to Every Abarth

CC5C: The last bit of your answer brings a new question to mind. How much of your ABARTH 500 is still stock?

RN: Most of the car is stock, I’ve only upgraded the brake pads (still using original rotors), wheels and tires, new slightly larger rear bar, and replaced the stock air filter with a K&N. I have some Koni yellow sport shocks to install for next year, and I might also add lowering springs to lower the center of gravity too.

CC5C: And what kinds of reactions have you received/witnessed from drivers of other makes?

RN: I think most other drivers love seeing the Abarth, as well as hearing it! The exhaust is designed with no muffler so it was designed by FIAT to have a nice sound! To me the sound makes me feel like I’m a 16-year-old all over again, even though I’m way past that age!

CC5C: 'Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

RN: There are all kinds of driving opportunities out there, so I recommend checking out the race track websites, and find out what your local car club is doing, whether it’s FIAT, Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Mustang, etc.

All Weather + All Wicked

I want to thank Nixon Motor Sports and Robert Nixon for sharing their FIAT-ABARTH life experience via the CC5C blog. This entry serves as my final e-publication for a while. It's been an honor serving the global FIAT and ABARTH community, in this way, since mid-2013. Be sure to check out the Nixon Motor Sports blog to read their exploits and inspire adventures of your own!





Mainstream Mayhem!

Benvenuti amici!

You've read about and seen many CC5CM3 PSAs hyping the FIAT Club America national event -- here, on our Facebook page and in the threads created for my two favorite North American FIAT/ABARTH forums. There was the additional blog post to help push registration activity at FIAT 500 USA.com.

You may have come across the two articles that appeared on the FCA North America multi-media blog called Objects In The Mirror...

The twin articles, FIAT FreakOut Headed To Milwaukee and Advertising Goes Retro For FIAT FreakOut 2017, were written by Edward Cardenas and constructed from an email exchange between us. Cardenas contacted the national club leaders as part of the corporate annual backing of the epic FIAT Famiglia event and developed a keen interest in the "PSAs" created, by yours truly, as part of our guerrilla marketing campaign.

We were pleasantly surprised to be contacted during the first few days of FreakOut regarding the possibility of covering the Road America "anchor" event. That coverage surfaced as a cool short shout on Classic Cars.com. But William Hall was not the only journalist in attendance. Todd Lassa, of Automobile Magazine also got his FreakOn in his longterm FIAT 500X. His six-page article made an appearance in print (the December issue of the magazine) as well as online (link included above).

So, what's all the hype about? Why do people pour so much energy into promoting this 34 years and going strong event?

My past years as a small press publisher of "underground" comics tell me it's due, in large part, to something we feel as "La Cosa Nostra" or "Our Thing". Is this meant to be some sort of play on words tying FIAT and ABARTH fans to the Sicilian mafia? No. It's more a comparison to that feeling we get when we discover something understood to few and misunderstood by the vast amount of others.

The FIAT and ABARTH brands have never quite planted their wheels on North American roads despite the fact the brands enjoy a rabid fanbase in South America and, of course, Europe. So, monthly local or annual national events around those brands raise a few eyebrows. To our delight... some of the raised eyebrows, in 2017, belonged to those in mainstream media. This is the highest profile hype the club has experienced.

Could this mark the elevation (and evolution), of FIAT and ABARTH marques, from mere unsung underground to ultra mainstream marketshare on our shores? Only time can tell but it seems as though the likelihood of such a thing is more pipe dream than possibility.

FIAT and ABARTH will likely always belong to the true believers. That stated... It's nice to see some positive press in a six-page spread of a major domestic magazine. We embrace it and aim to capitalize on it with a more aggressive approach to promoting (local, national) clubs and events via consistent and entertaining online presence.






Benvenuti amici!

One of the biggest challenges inherent in being a MidCoast-based fan of small European cars, especially the Italian variety, is we live in truck and SUV country. The roads are generally horrible and many drivers maneuver them as if there is no one else in sight.

Fortunately, there are local groups and events to gather (and grow) the faithful plus keep things interesting. CC5C has many times been invited to attend the annual FIATs Up North aka F.U.N. event. We are happy to report we have representation in 2017. Grant Stanfield has quickly become one of my favorite "lone wolf activists" of the Midwest FIAT scene. Grant is a man on a mission to enjoy life. It just so happens he is also a petrolhead with a keen interest in Italian automobiles. He graced the CC5C Facebook page with images and video clips of his summer holidays in Europe where he toured several Italian automaker factories. His F.U.N. images adorn this blog entry today.

Hosting F.U.N. in Wisconsin means this story begins with beer and one of our many infamous breweries. The New Glarus Brewing Company in this case.

The New Glarus Brewing Company is an USAmerican brewery founded in 1993 by Deborah Carey as a gift for her husband (Daniel). The brewery began in an abandoned warehouse with used "brewpub" equipment. New Glarus brewed its first beer October of 1997 and began selling its product December of the same year. New Glarus broke ground of their $21mil USD facility in 2006. The facility is meant to resemble a hillside Bavarian village... as the company began brewing with the pennies on the dollar purchase of repurposed German copper kettles the year of its first brew.

The grounds transport visitors to another time and place. In fact, one need not travel inside or outside any Wisconsin city to see hints of the earliest non-French European settlers. Germanic and Scandinavian trackers and traders also left their mark on the landscape... making for cool backdrops to our small Italian roundabouts. Grant made sure to remind us of the fact. We thank him for his commitment to truly experiencing the world around him and his willingness to share his discoveries with the community.

Back to FIATs & F.U.N...

FIATs Up North, or F.U.N., was created by the West Michigan Chapter of FIAT Club America. The group was organized in 2006 and rolls out this regional event... state-to-state and city-to-city... throughout the Midwest. Consider this the FIAT FreakOut-lite of the North Central part of the country. The time of the year this event is held (during the Autumn months) is typically perfect for the driving enthusiast. The weather is comfortable and the scenery is beautifully kissed with the colors of the season. Of course, it's also a little wet. But that often adds to the enjoyment of driving.

Holding F.U.N. in Dodgeville, roughly 127 miles west of Milwaukee, was a very good idea. Breweries, farmland, Franklin Lloyd Wright architecture and The House On The Rock make for a, well, fun setup any life enthusiast can enjoy.

This is a FIAT club. We excel at making the most of what we have available to us. We are guardians of time and our care for ABARTH, Alfa Romeo, Autobianchi, FIAT, Lada, Lancia, SEAT and Zastava (to name a few) heritage bear witness to the fact. We take whatever time we have behind the wheel and make the absolute best of it. 

Thanks to Grant for adding so much goodness to our short shout out. Get out there. Discover. Spread the passion you feel for your car and community to the world around you. Share. You only get one go behind the wheel and it is not a test drive. You may as well have lots of fun during the trip.





Where The FIAT Freaks Are

Benvenuti amici!

I shared my top five sources for FIAT news and communicating with other ABARTHisti and FIATisti in this 2014 blog story. My news sources vary from time to time, but the places I go to obtain and share info about ABARTHs and FIATs remains the FIAT 500 USA and FIAT Tech forums. The members of these forums, including people hailing from the Americas to Asia and Europe, frequent to learn about their cars and share what they learn about their cars. Both forums host separate sections for leading North American aftermarket vendors as well as local and national clubs. These online community destinations, and their value, are the focus of this September 2017 blog entry.

FIAT500USA Events & Club Section

FIAT Tech Events & Club Section

Perhaps one of the most difficult things about being a fan of a little known and/or little respected automaker and brand is figuring out how to get/stay in contact with likeminded fans. One would need to write/travel to other parts of the country or world to do such a thing in years past... as chronicled in this October 2013 blog. We are (arguably) fortunate enough to live in a day and age when the need to go to such lengths -- to share enthusiasm, experiences and information -- is no longer necessary.

FIAT 500 USA and FIAT Tech, as well as similar forums, transport enthusiasts from one side of town, region and continent/s to another with a simple point and click. No stamps or passports are needed to get it done. But the doing does take some measure of desire and effort from forum visitors.

The very first thing one needs to do, provided the individual already owns a computer and has internet access, is register on either or both sites. Visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and "Forum Rules" sections to avoid making "newbie" mistakes. Then, "hover" or "troll" other sections and threads to settle into the purpose and vibe of the forum/s. It won't take long before you feel the urge to add to the e-conversation and get further involved with the online environment that is driving fandom at the moment and into the future. I recommend 1 hour 2-3 days a week to get the most out of your forum activity. It truly is that simple to get started and stay connected. My personal experience and communication with other ABARTH and FIAT fans is this kind of contact is especially important in parts of the country that are more isolated and/or devoid of solid Italian car culture activity.

FIAT500USA Forum Homepage

FIAT Tech Forum Homepage

Visits to these forums exploit an added benefit, for fledgling local and established national clubs, to secure more exposure that is required in order to maintain/build interest between monthly meets and annual events. It cannot be denied. Reposting links and images to one Facebook page from another Facebook page is great but in no way comes close to achieving what personal interaction at a regular meet and/or through forum activity guarantees. The best way to justify the time required to attend monthly local club outings is to plan and attend those meets. The best way to justify annual national club dues is to... well... justify those dues by exhibiting value through community member-focused action. Smaller, local clubs seem to capitalize on this the best, but FIAT Club America also has its own section at FIAT500USA. The national clubs need the help of their respective boards, members and officers.

I encourage you to take action if you read value in what I've written here.
  • Establish new and attend existing local enthusiast meets
  • Register and Post to the ABARTH & FIAT forums
  • Check out/Like some Facebook pages
  • Read and/or write a FIAT blog

The success of the brand truly resides in your hands. Join the movement today!





CC5CM3 PSAs : Revisted

Benvenuti amici!

You'll recall we highlighted our own "CC5CM3 PSAs" early 2016. We continue to present our homegrown FIAT-related ideas in this way. These ideas... these "Public Service Announcements (PSAs)"... are meant to serve the greater FIAT community in a way that both inspires & emboldens somewhat isolated enthusiasts to mobilize, to gather and to invest time into building their own local and/or regional clubs. This, in turn, supports the efforts of the national and global FIAT communities... including the corporate entities.

Our efforts certainly have not been lost on FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). The  North American multimedia arm of the automaker featured a corporate blog story, highlighting our work, when we applied our brand of servitude to the 34th Annual FIAT FreakOut "guerrilla marketing" campaign. We are grateful the time put into these is catching on and trust we'll see more personal engagement, from other social motoring groups, in the coming months and years.

We haven't lost our sense of humor in this process... as the FIAT FreakOut PSA above clearly indicates. We realize, in an ever-changing global climate, FIATisti and ABARTHisti need a break away from the madness. So, we continue to throw in the occasional funny and/or cheeky PSAs for good measure.

It all, in the end, is about having as much fun as possible. Feel free to visit the CC5C Pinterest page often. Pin and Share our PSAs, inspire other enthusiasts around you, and get involved with your local, regional, national and global communities today. Don't worry if your local/regional enthusiasts are driving models and makes other than the 500 and FIAT. We added other beloved models (124/125, 126, 127/128, 600, 850, Panda, Punto, etc.) and FIAT-licensed marques, including; AutoVAZ/Lada, Polski FIAT, SEAT, Steyr-Puch, Zastava/YUGO, etc. to our online portfolio. Take it a step further and open your own cyber gallery. Share your images to our Facebook page. We dare you!





FreakOut In The Rearview

Benvenuti amici!

Anyone following the CC5C Facebook page and this blog is aware I've been working with a team of local club members, a "planning committee", to organize a national FIAT aficionado convention. This blog entry captures some of the automobiles trailered and/or driven to Milwaukee and the activities attendees took part in. Consider this your reward for putting up with all the "hype" entries published since August 2016. Also, this is a THANK YOU to the local committee, the Board of Directors, FCA North America and our long list of sponsors.

Now, one of my favorite things to do at any car event... small or large... is to hang around waiting to see what will show up. The hanging out happens in the parking during an FIAT FreakOut (FFO). Wednesday & early Thursday I took advantage of less crowding around the arrivals in order to get the cleanest shots possible. This helped build up my excitement for the of activities.

Quiet time with Nonna.

Eurocompulsion Represent!

Pep : Adding Global Depth

From Yugoslavia with Love!

Activities. Yes, let's spend some time covering FFO activities. We staged the inaugural FIAT GeoDash Thursday. (It played the "Normale" alternative to the backroads trip to the ultra-popular "Sportivo" Holy Hill & the WI Auto Museum run.) Think "The Amazing Race" in FIATs and ABARTHs. It seemed Duane Hand, the activity point person, had just as much or more fun than the participants. We thought this was a deeper way of getting to know our city. Why bother hosting an event in a particular place if no one gets to experience said place on their own terms? Am I right?

I'll remind you we divided the entire week of events into "Normale", low-key and family-oriented, and "Sportivo", high-speed and gearhead-oriented, activities. I always thought all FeakOuts should be organized in this way. Thanks to Duane Hand, Joe Noto, the Reiners family and Willie Carter (the unsung heroes of FFO2017) for adding their ideas and/or hard work to the mix.

An Industrial Tribute : Allen Bradley

Victorian Gothic : Cream City

Style : Milwaukee Art Museum

We also managed to secure track time on the legendary Road America race track - "Sportivo" alternative to the "Normale" Pizza Bus Tour. Both happened Friday. It began to rain lightly as we exited the Milwaukee Metro Area, but that did not stop the group of over 70 cars from making the trek to Elkhart Lake, enjoying the final [vintage car race] practice sessions and purchasing mementos from the paddock shops & kiosks. 'Not many images to share for this activity... we were too busy having fun. But I'm sure there will be many images & video clips posted online in the coming weeks. Thanks to Tyler Whitty and Mark Beckmann for their help making this "anchor event" a roaring success.

500 Topolino Leads FIAT Future!

The week of fun was punctuated with the most richly diverse show field in FFO history staged [Saturday] at a the Mitchell Park "Domes". The overcast skies helped keep most of the day very comfortable. 'No rain for the first time in 3-4 years. The sun burned through said cloudy skies during the final hour or so of the event. I consider it a sign we did good.

Spectators came in from outside the national club and they were certainly welcomed to do so. What use is a Concorso if only the owners/drivers get to enjoy? Most FFO activities are strictly members-only. This is the one portion the general public can enjoy. That general public represents future FIATisti and ABARTHisti. That general public is whom we & FCA-North America need to win via the ultra coolness of our cars. It should be our expressed mission to include and court our non-FIAT driving neighbors. And, so, we did.

Sombrita at The Domes

Dolce : Grant's 500 Lounge




Beautiful Back Row!

Coupes + Spiders

500s, 124s + X1/9s


Born In Different Countries...

... All Bound with the Same Soul

500X, 500L and Alfa Romeo

Coach Building Relatives

Local Eastern Block represent!

Grilles for Days...

Return of the Spiders!

3/4 Generations of 500 attended!

Local FIAT racing heritage!

ABARTH 750 Zagato!

Local Delta Love!

The perennial Awards Banquet happened later Saturday night and a Sunday Brunch and raffle followed (not pictured). Well, the convention, called FIAT FreakOut, is in the history books and attendees are on the road or already home. Submitting an itinerary proposal, enlisting a willing planning committee, reworking and refining the plan over the course of nearly two years, gaining the confidence/support of the Board of Directors and running around throughout the week was quite the adventure. On behalf of my team, thanks to all the sponsors as well as the event volunteers for partnering with us and the national club to put on the best FreakOut in recent memory. This leaves us with one more, and quite possibly the most, important activity of all.

Think about what you can... or are willing... to do in your area to support our greater FIAT community. Maybe your area doesn't have the numbers to sustain a chapter of one of the two larger clubs, but you consistently roll with a smaller number of passionate owners/drivers. Consider pooling your collective talents and sharing your adventures online. FIAT wants & needs to hear/read about the new breed of enthusiasts and that our numbers are growing. This creates a more [fiscally] relevant balance to the equally [to us] relevant old breed.

Finally, CC5C and Mighty Mouse Militia (M3), phonetically stylized MYT MAUS Militia, are entering a new era. You read about the early beginnings of CC5C on this very blog. You also read about the expanded MYT MAUS MILITIA (M3) idea. I modified the CC5C and M3 logos in order to mark the new era and recognize the global mission of FIAT as well as the multinational (Austria, Italy, Slovenia) roots of ABARTH. The Italian tricolor is, now, replaced with a racing-inspired checkered pattern to match the stylized racing wreath. You many have taken note of the change months ago - the CC5C blog icon/avatar. The ABARTH & GIANNINI versions of the M3 logo may continue to bear the Italian colors, but the RECORD version, along with the CC5C logo, will no longer bear them.

Individuals who purchased the first (and extremely limited) MYT MAUS MILITIA BE ABOUT THE LEGEND t-shirt are already sporting the new look. The idea came to me after our November 2016 event with "Pep Zastava". The missus has asked me to design a more global logo for some time. Modifying the existing logos made more sense. You will find, in addition to these aesthetic changes, I will continue to write stories about non-Italian FIATs as M3 mayhem continues to claim more parking space in the local and national scene/s.