3/1/04: I took delivery late on Friday. Saturday was gloomy -- not a Spider day, but adequate for demonstrating to the doubtful wife that my new toy actually works. I spent most of the day surveying, staring and fondling, and making to-do and to-buy lists.
I also replaced a battery cable, transplanted the shift knob from my long-gone 74 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe, tightened some screws, removed a dead alarm speaker, discovered that there was a CD slot with a Creedence Clearwater disk behind the flip-down radio panel, and cleaned some engine grime.
Sunday, as its name promises but too-seldom delivers, was sunny -- the long awaited top-down Spider day. I thought it was a perfect day to go for a long solo ride. After a few shifts and some fast curves, I realized that I was thinking with the wrong vocabulary.
This was much more than "going for a ride." It's certainly way beyond "transportation" and "traveling" and "going somewhere." I was enjoying the thrill of DRIVING, a thrill that most people don't know exists, and even fewer get to experience. Spider owners are very lucky people.
5/15/04: I showed Spiderman at a car show for the first time, and took home a First Place award for best of all cars made in the 1970s. There was a wide range of vehicles -- but very few sports cars -- and the Fiat drew lots of attention. On 6/6 it won an "Award for Excellence" trophy at another show; on 7/18 it won a second-place trophy in the sports car class at a show, and on 9/26 it won a first prize over all!
Spiderman spent the winter of 2004-05 with other tomato-colored cars at AutoSerra in Valhalla NY, getting new engine mounts and carb tweaks. Bunkmates included three Ferraris and a tiny Fiat 500 -- not much bigger than a grocery cart at Costco
In November 2004, Spiderman got a new ragtop, gorgeous Haartz "Stayfast" cloth from Bayless. On the day I picked up the newly topped car from the installer, it rained.
Photo bove was taken on 11/7/04 at a Fiat/Lancia Unlimited tech session hosted by Expert Auto Service in Stamford CT.
I took the train home, and left Spiderman at the shop for ace mechanic Joe Magnifico to work on. Joe's gorgeous pre-124 Spider (1200?) is the fourth car from the front in the photo.
Danny O'Donnell of Fun Imported Auto and Toys ("FIAT") spent a lot of time under a Spider showing us the things that can wear out.
Tim Beeble, godfather of FLU's Northeast Coast Chapter, provided organization, munchies, and excellent weather.
Fiat gathering at Lime Rock race track, Fall 2006.
Spiderman at Firestone in Spring 2007 for new ball joints and general front-end rebuild.