the passion's development
I' was lucky enough to bear in Trento, North Italy, in 1963 and to live at Denno, a beautiful small village situated in Val Di Non (Valley), few kM South of Tirolo Country, half way between Trento and Bolzano.
At Denno life is very simply, beautiful, happy: citizens are fine and friendly, the majority being farmers. I' often come back to Denno to enjoy my holydays, sometimes with my parents and we are always welcomed; nobody forgot us and they consider all of us belonging them.
My wife, albeit a stranger, likes very much Trentino country and this makes me very happy. In those delightful countries I' knew the Fiat 124, in the far 1967. I' was only four but I'had a strong memory. A friend of my father bought a brand new dark green firts serie Fiat 124 Sedan, the same colour of the beautiful trees that rise in Trentino. In those beautiful and happy years, the Sixties all was simply, we are all happy although having very few gadgets; there wasn't all this phrenetis of today.
To buy a new car was once mora an event and this 124 quickly impressed me: it seemed to me very beautiful, big, comfortable, modern and had a charming roar. At that time I' remember very well the fun VW Beetle, the Opel Kadett, the Citroen DS21 (alias "the shark"), the Austin J30, the nice Mini Morris and many more cars. Beside all of these, the 124 was the winner , albeit for me and she liked to a lot of people.
Publicity often showed her and almost all of the TV heroes and VIPs had at least one, Sedan or Sport-Coupè. In 1968 I' and my family left Denno and Trentino, with our great dismay and sadness. In the '70s the 124 TC Sedan ("Special") appeared but we didn't know what is meaning "TC". I and my little friends are in love with the 124 and we were all her fans. In those years we enjoied the economic-boom in Italy and we had a very happy time.
The TV was too B/W and we had only one, enormous at home.There were only
two channels and all in the family watched the same show. Saturday after
dinner there was a famous nice showgirl, Raffaella Carrà who was
also a petrol chain distributor testimonial. At that time Italian singers
were among the best and I' clearly remember the hit parade, listened to
the radio. Another famous Big, a stranger, was the famous and brave George
Harrison with his "My
Sweet Lord" that liked me very much!
In the fashion side, the women had helmet-fashioned hair, wore miny skirts and boots and they fascinated me, although I'was too much a child for love.
At Saturdays, coming off the school, we ran at home to watch Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, the so-called "Crazy Heads". In those days came time to replace our dear old Innocenti-Austin A40S, very good and reliable but obsolete: I and my brother Marco ran to my father claiming for the famous 124 at once!
On July 14, 1971 my father bought a four years old used Fiat 124 Ist serie, 1200cc numberplated "Roma*A33451". She was dark grey with red skay interiors and pale grey dashboard. I' liked very much her wheel, very modern designed, with her noteworthy clackson ring and all her gadgets: there were a little courtesy mirror for my mother, four doors with safety locks and the radio, a beautiful Autovox with automatic searching programs.
"What a big luggage room!" said my mother, because this was very useful for our many trips. Once at our home garden I rose to the wheel to pretend to drive but I' inadvertitely locked the steering gear because of the anti-theft block. Days later I' won the bet with my friends in being the first whose father was buyng a 124. I' remember me as very proud beside my father, aboard our smart and roaring 124 ....
In Autumn 1971 we left to go to Ancona, a beautiful small city in the middle of Italy, on the Adriatic coast. Once more we left our little friends, our teachers, our little world... But now we had the 124 nowadays! At Ancona we lived in a little eight flat palace, simply and without lift; we have a simple common garage.
At that time, November 1971 bore my second brother, Andrea and we were all very happy. One late afternoon we had gone to do shopping when we found a little car, a Fiat 500 parked behind our "Big Grey"; this made impossible to us to come off and my father, someone like a hero, with his VIP job and duty, was very disappointed. Soon he became angry and, having literally grabbed the poor little "500" for her bumper, he shifted her! what a joke for me and Marco!! we are very amused and our father, an example of courage and loyalty, rose to our eies like a hero!
But sadly, a few days later a terrible challenge waited for us: it was a terrible earthquake that take us a very hard time. In the meantime our Big Grey went to have a change of numberplate, by “Rome” to “Ancona”, becoming "AN*160502". The start of the hearthquake came in late evening of January 25, 1972 with the first big shock. This near-a-disaster lasted for a very long year; it was a true nightmare that seemed not to have an end.
At the half of 1972 Ancona was a ghost town, literally empty; all had ran away and our beloved 124 was our spare house! the scene was all the same: as soon as after the shock, frightened peoples, suddendly wacked-up & quickly dressed, very ashtonished, with their little child and babies ran to their own cars to meet up in the main place to avoid the falling-down houses danger.
night of January 1972 we stayed in our 124: it was a cold winter, it was
snowing, my mother had had a baby some few days early... but our "Big
Grey" sheltered and housed us as better as possible. She had big sloping
seats and we sleeped onto them. When this tragedy finally ended the 124
was a very reliable friend and carried us into many and many happy tours
with my family. Noteworthy were the visits to a my father's sister whose
sons were like other brothers to us. They showed me all the best about Great
Britain, the Beatles and all about U.K.!
Our "160-502" was a beautiful, comfortable, precious, indefatigable tour mate. She never left us on foot seriously, never but two times when:
She once suffered an engine failure because my father failed to control the water level in the radiator. Due the lack of the cooling water the warning red light turned up on the dashboard but he didn't stopped the engine immediately as per istructions and did also the wrong thing, driving the car at home. In so doing he burned the engine head sealings because the engine’s temperature quickly raised too far! This loutish error cost him some money soon afterward!
But sadly, going ahead , the 124 days with us are numbered and ran close to the end! at the begin of 1977 in fact the car was ten years old and my father, having found another quite young smaller and cheap car, with "only" 100 thousands of kM on the clock, wanted to change her. At that time the 124s began to be old and out of fashion; suddendly this model, like her bigger sister, the Fiat 125 was obsolete.
And we are going to buy our own house so we didn't have so much money. What a shame! I and Marco are very disappointed and sad because a bit of us left home. Then my father, who have many qualities and is a fine dad, has altogether very faults, the worst being a strong intransigence, a fault that was going to become a true despotism in the following years to come. So I and my brother protested to come to nothing.
A poor ignorant and penniless fellow take away our beloved "Big Grey" and - with our greatest dismay - we said her farewell! The poor little 128, called to replace our Myth never liked me and even I' hated her. All my friends still had their own 124s, all but me, and the father of my best friend replaced his old glorious Fiat 125 (Sedan) with a brand new smart Fiat 132. I felt very shamed and humiliate and my father soon became aware of this..
During a 1978 Summer evening I' was watching a TV film with the skilful actor Lino Ventura, "the Man which didn't shot up" " (Le Silencieux); the soundtrack was the famous "Love is in the Air" song by John Paul Young. In this film there were some beautiful spot with a smart Fiat 124 on the foreground.
This promptly and suddenly re-sparkled my old love in my hearth, that love who drove me to find another Fiat 124. From now I’ began to collect news and all sorts of pictures and informations about this car.
"the Man which didn't shut up" / Le silencieux
Some time later, with my very big pleasure I' discovered the presence of some “strange” shining brand new 124s: they were virtually identical to our late models, all but in being fitted with two squared front lights; they were the soon known Seat 124D "Pamplona", a licence-built Spanish version, sold in Italy by Fiat network.
They immediately liked me very much because they resembled our late models and they left me a very smart impression. A friend of my father, who already had one like ours, bought a brand new example also and soon proudly showed her to us. I' was enthusiast with her and I’ came back to my father asking for buyng one; but we had no money at all and my father didn't like cars any more, so he firmly refused.
A day we incidentally meet "our" Big Grey in stranger's hands: what an emotion! but that guy was very lazy and careless, and he merely overworked her. In some 7 long years to came he slowly wrecked her.
Another day we discovered her with the clackson ring broken, missed wheel bosses and work-weary seats. I and my brother Marco protested but with no results. Another time we found some spare parts for her and delivered them to the fellow, all to come to nothing one more time.
The year 1982 arrived, I' obtained the driving licence and soon said to my father that I' was going to look for a Fiat 124 for me. I' like motors and cars and that was my choice: I' though that was a my right claim, I' didn't want a Ferrari or even the moon at least! At that time our old Big Grey's owner was often in our neighbourhood and he soon became nice to me in giving me the keys of our "160-502" saing: "enjoy a tour!". I' was very deeply moved and I'must have been very fun: my father and this fellow were laughing very much!
On March 17, 1982 was the first time since I'was at our 124's wheel: I' was extremely proud and I' left with her like I' was driving a Jumbo-jet! but with my great shame I' saw that the car was nowadays much wrecked: the water and humudity had begun to came into the cockpit, the dashboard was holed, the clock didn't work any more and the warning lights were all fulminated; the car was 15 years old, the body began to be rusty, the paint was scruffy and sun cooked: what a disaster! Notwithstanding that same day I' decided Iì wanted the car back and literally praied the owner to give her me back when he didn't want her any more.
This man was at least a good and comprehensive fellow however and he duly accepted my request but with my father's agreement. And now began the woes! Firstly because my father DIDN'T have the sensibility to see that all the matter wasn't a mere whim of mine, as he though; then he exaggerated every problem; last baut not at least "we all must to do what he want: and stop"! Verdict: "our" 124 was too much old, was too big (being a mere 1200 cc!), was a wreck and so useless. Stop.
But at that time I' was growth to become a man, I' had my own ideas and opinion, I've just developed my own personality and I' knew that I' wanted; so we began to clash, also violently. Often there was no dialogue between us. I' can drove our glorious "Big Grey" for some five times and I took aboard with me my girlfriend and my brothers rispectively.
Then the sad October 1983 came, to see the poor "160-502" - which had ran for another seven long years in odds hands, had grinded many more miles, had suffered for, at least, another overheating problem and undergone to a carburettor change (swapped with one of a "Special" model) and a LPG supply plant installed - being quietly and uncerimoniously scrapped. For her also that sad moment arrived, as a George Harrison's excerpt said ("All things Must Pass").
I' didn't know where they scrapped my old beloved car but sometime later, for a cruel fate's joke, I' found her into a scrapyard near Ancona, at the top af a wrecks heap. I' identified her immediately although without numberplates because some particular sign on her body: there was no more wheels, lights and glasses. I' was ashtonished and very sad: I' would can cry! Certainly I' knew the densperate target that was my aim to recover & rebuilt her and my father wasn't all too wrong with his mind but I' just had done many and many dreams about her recostruction.
But the worst thing of this matter was that a day my father was suddendly presented with one more old Fiat 128 and he wanted me to take on load! O.K., we had no money at all, my brothers are going at school also and I' was beginning to work, albeit temporarily: BUT I' DID WANT a (Fiat) 124 at once and nothing else! he insisted but I’ refused; so he was soon angry with me and literally imposed me to take in charge the poor old 128, in spite of my vigorous protests!
I' never forgive him for that! it was too much. I' was in turn very angry with him because the grotesque was in the ridicolous differences of maintenance costs between the two models. But HE simply decided for me and that's must be all!
I' did cannot anything. At that moment I' had an urgent need of some of a car giving me the so-wished indipendence and made me free, so I' accepted notwithsanding. In about a non-stop week of works, I and my brave brother Marco, home's engineer, overhauled the poor old 128 to a good standard.
Certainly I' would have had a more lax and democratic father, more sensitive and no dispotic as he was. That's all about my 124 love story. During the following years to come I' continued to drive my poor no-wanted 128 notwithstanding and to see my many friends free to have easily their own 124: all of them did can, I' DIDN'T! what a BIG injustice!
In the summer 1991 I' was offered a beautiful example of 124 (IInd serie), the same of Lino Ventura's film, in very good conditions and for present! at that time I'was mistakely married and my father-in-law, a Fiat collaudator pilot, very influential to me said "NO once more"!
I' was literally demoralized and this poor 124 also went to scrapyard as innocent as was. The fate seemed to be against me, as someone had always decided in place to me so far.
Many years passed away, the 124s bagan slowly do disappear,
I' became to forget them. Would I' fight against all odds?
In the meantime I'must had quickly married because I' can't live live at home any more, due to an exaggerate my father's dispotism, risen to an alarming and inacceptable level. Then my wrong wedding came to an end and I' was "rescued" and promptly helped by my family and my always standing and indefatigable father. Today our relations are far better, he estimate me at long last.
Some four years ago, during a holyday in Greece I' met once more a 124 klone, a Soviet Lada. The following year, at Corfù I' met many more 124s Fiat & Seat, plus some Ladas also. So the believed dead love for my favourite car re-sparkled once more time and, thanks to Internet links, quickly rose again. What a emotion! soon afterwards I'found the very important SEAT/FIAT MSN Group, a very nice and useful Spanish site and I' became a member of him.
Some two years ago I' inadvertitely found a very nowadays rare wreck in a farm courtyard and - with the permission of her owner - I' collected some precious spares, firstly a decoy kM-clock which formed the basis of a nice little memorial erected in my studio's room, along with some pictures and nice scale models.
[Other precious spares helped me to restore my present example!] At the end of 2005 I' finally found an enough rare example of a first serie 39 years-old Fiat 124; I' found her at Pisa, near Florence. Incidentally she was dark green like the first I'met for the first time so many years ago, when I' was a child. She belonged to Cinzia's family, after her mother and her father.
Cinzia carefully & lovingly preserved this old precious car to bring her to our days and, luckily, she sold the 124 to me.
This old veteran was the extremely welcomed present of my today clever wife for our 5th anniversary. Finally I' was lucky enough to find a fine (polish) girl.
dear old friend, Piero, a very skillful FIAT/Lancia
mechanic who always overhauled and maintained our Old Big Grey in
the far past years offered to help me. I'm literally in love with
this beautiful Fiat 124 and on December 9, 2005 we were to Pisa to recover
her with the help of a brand new very modern and well equipped rescue-crane
Now we have dismantled the old 124 to overhaul her completely and to get her ready to go to the paint shop for a total repair and repainting of her body.
With this standing good skillful team of professionists she quickly will come back in a very smart and pristine conditions!
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