Inner Child
Inner Child New Reader
10/22/09 8:27 p.m.

Reading about the new Fiat 500 coming to the states got me thinking...will its arrival cause an increase in the prices of the classic 500? I'd guess that it would, but I have little basis for that claim. I've heard anecdotally that this happened with the introduction of both the New Beetle and the MINI, but does anyone have any actual experience or data to back this up? What about the retro-styled Mustang; did its presence increase demand for the early cars?

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/22/09 10:03 p.m.

The classic mini, especially the Cooper and Cooper S models increased in price by about 25%-30% after the intro of the new MINI. I do not think the Mustang got much of an increase, there are a whole lot more classic Mustangs still out there. Same with the Beetle.

I would not be surprised if the classic 500 increases after the new 500 hits the streets here. I would guess about 10% as unfortunately the 500 while really fun to drive and cool is very slow and much less usable than a classic mini is.

Just my 2 cents worth. Hope it helps.

By the way the new 500 is brilliant. I drove one for a week in Italy this year. It is as fun or more fun than the new MINI in my opinion and I used to own a 2004 JCW MINI Cooper.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/22/09 10:58 p.m.

I think the new cars definitely helped the value of the old ones as it introduced new people to the marque. For example, I don't think the average American is familiar with the Fiat 500, but soon that will change.

Rupunzell New Reader
10/23/09 12:09 a.m.

The average American knows and remembers FIAT as un-reliable, rusty, cheap , poop heaps that are not suitable for American drivers or roads. This belief is perpetuated by may automotive journalist to this day. When FIAT initially anounced they were returning back to the American car market, there were no less than several stories each day in the media reminding the readers how rusty, un-reliable, cheap, poop heaps they are...

What is never mentioned in these articles is the fact the majority of cars in the FIAT price range from that era were just as rusty, un-reliable, cheap, poop heaps...

The perpetuation of this myth is what FIAT must over come if they hope to sell any cars in America.

Fact is, most car folks have no idea of what the engineering is under a FIAT, it is far better than most car folks ever know or realize. What most car folks perceive and judge past FIATs by are all the cheap plastic trim flying off, flimsily upholstery and other items that the majority of car folks perceive as quality.
One of the more brilliant features British Leyland cars had were the wood dash, good interior materials and generally nice feel of the passenger space.. In places where the owners usually never look, the realities are where the pennies were pinched until the SCREAMED..

Japanese cars from this era were equally cheap, but they were reliable enough (the hood could be welded shut,add fuel and drive it with tarry a worry about any of the mechanicals being a problem) during their initial few years of ownership to keep their owners happy. They drove like a shoe box with the wheels stapled on... it simply did not matter to the vast majority of their owners..

German cars became Detroit cars built and designed properly..But they were not completely problem free either... Remember the original VW Rabbit, Dasher and that entire line of problem VW cars?

Detroit sold small cars only out of market demand. The majority of them were awful, The Pinto, Vega, Maverick, Gremlin and more...

Sarah Beltrami
Sarah Beltrami Events Coordinator
10/23/09 8:13 a.m.

In reply to Rupunzell:

Certainly you wouldn't throw the Pacer and Fuego and Le Car in the group would you?

Inner Child
Inner Child New Reader
10/23/09 9:36 p.m.

Luckily, I'm young enough that I wasn't of driving age when Fiats were last widely available new in the US, so I don't have any preconceived notions about their reliability. Perhaps that's one reason I find myself drawn to the classic 500. I think about what my first real restoration project should be in a few years and I keep coming back to the 500. Simple, small (easy to store), inexpensive, and unique. Seems like a good car to start with.

Andy, it's interesting to see those figures for the Mini. I thought I noticed those values getting a boost around that time, but that's just based on my mental record of all the ebay searches I've done over the years.

I have to say, while I know that increasing values are generally good for the classic car hobby, I hate watching them rise faster than my bank account. When I first got interested in classics, the Austin Healey 3000 was my attainable dream car. I think I may have to pick a new one...

Rupunzell New Reader
10/24/09 11:21 a.m.

Ha! Americans HATE French cars.

I owned a R5 aka Le Car (excuse the bad French) years ago. It was a GREAT car.. fun to drive, comfy with a HUGE sun roof. It was a perfectly reliable daily driver too. Regardless of what some say about these. Then a few bent folks at Renault including Jean Ragnotti created the R5 turbo which became a bit of automotive history:

Oh, I also owned a Feugo and R17, and an R16.. and a DS21.. one of my all time favorite cars.

The Pacer got a bum deal. It was originally designed to have a GM rotary engine, since that never happened. AMC got left powering this green house special with a far more generic engine.. The large glass areas where a nice idea, but made the design HEAVY.

As for the generation who does not remember FIAT as the rusty, un-reliable cheap heaps... They never really were rusty, un-reliable cheap heaps, their current crop of cars are as good if not better than any similar car built anywhere. They could never survive in the worlds most competitive car market segment otherwise. To top that, they did well enough 3Q, considering current car market conditions and other car makers like BMW, Damiler, Toyota, Honda and others Bleeding RED. One quiet less spoken car company that is doing very well also is Hyundai...

Sarah Beltrami wrote: In reply to Rupunzell: Certainly you wouldn't throw the Pacer and Fuego and Le Car in the group would you?
VClassics Reader
10/24/09 11:45 a.m.

I had a Fiat 850 Spider and a 124 Spider, and both were entirely reliable apart from minor electrical problems once in a while. I put 75,000 miles on the 124 and it never failed to get me where I was going.

I had a Gremlin X with the 304 V8 and a stick, and it was a lot of fun. Basically the same platform as the original two-seat AMX.

My folks had a Renault 5 that I drove a lot. It had the smoothest ride of any car I've driven, surprisingly good handling, and a fair amount of zip.

I'd be happy to own any of those cars today.

Spitsix New Reader
10/25/09 9:15 a.m.

I hope someone makes a new Spitfire - I could use the 25% bump in sell price! Scott

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/25/09 6:26 p.m.

I also have to chime in on the Fiat myths. My first car was a 1968 124 Coupe. I put the engine together from a box of parts not knowing 1/2 of what I was doing at the time. I drove every day, summer an winter in Tucson Arizona with no issues. I knew that cam belts had to be changed regularly, that oil changes were important and that some small things would occasionally go wrong. The car never let me down.

In the mid 1990's I used a 1975 124 Spider as a daily driver and had the same experience. The car was terrific to drive, little things would crop up, though all wee easy to fix. The cars were ot bad they just were not appliances. A Chevy Impala from the same era was made to have no owner involvement and so they were more reliable. They also were not nearly as cool looking nor as fun to drive.

Rob Sass used me as a source for a very nice article about Fiat that appeared in the NY Times so all the journalists out there are not Fiat haters.

On the same note Italian cars in my experience are a bit less durable than other cars even newer ons and still tend to have more intensive service needs. that being said, driving a new Ferrari or Maserati can be a wonderful and transforming experience much in the way that driving an older Fiat or Alfa can. The new 500 also has that certain Italianness to it and is likely to be very popular.

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