It’s not about me – it’s about modern automotive history….
And as of yesterday – for the first time in 28 years – new Fiat cars were for sale and on the ground in Kansas City. That’s right, eight Fiat 500 Prima Edizione cars landed at the dealership soon to be known as Fiat of Olathe just off 119th Street and I-35. They’re lined up as we speak, awaiting conclusion of their sale by Fiat of Olathe’s sister dealership in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Yeah, including mine – a gray Prima with sunroof that stickers for $20,000 and change.
Nope, I won’t be keeping company with Craig Glazer and his Lotus Evora to-be-named later. Just as I won’t be subscribing to his stable of surplus hotties/grrrlfriends. But that’s neither here, nor there. What I will be doing is trying to squeeze 40-plus miles-per-gallon out the car and helping in some small way reduce this country’s dependence on foreign oil.
So – haters, stand aside – and let’s move on to news of the Primas and the future of Fiat in KC…
For starters, not all of the eight area Prima buyers who signed up late last summer or early fall (like me) survived the journey. Two of the eight are no longer in the game and Fiat will offer their cars to buyers that signed up on a waiting list for a Prima.
"Until a few moments ago I was #225," reads an email from KC Prima orderer James Stith. "My wife and I had very much been looking forward to buying a Fiat but all the negative press and the rampant disorganization and bad attitudes has forced us to release #225 back into the wild… I think the cars are going to be really fun whenever they are delivered. I’m just really disappointed by the lack of organization and communication. I had talked with (the dealer here) a few times in the past and I know he’s doing his best in an untenable situation. It must be horribly frustrating as a car salesman to have people chomping at the bit to get their hands on your product and for you to be unable to deliver it to them because other folks were apparently asleep at the wheel.
"You are 100% correct that in a few months nobody in the general public will remember or care about this black eye. Heck, I hope the car is impressive enough that when the other 500 reservations are filled the excitement with the car will be enough to clear the bad taste from everyone’s mouth. I guess at this point the fun has ended for me. I hope you get yours soon so your next Fiat story is about the joy of ownership."
Another reason for Stith’s hesitation: Would you believe the smartfortwo?
"Unfortunately we were early on the smart band wagon and that didn’t turn out too well," Stith says. "I think that added to our unease as well as far as being an early adopter…The reason the Fiat was so attractive (is that my wife’s) currently driving a smart and has family in Louisiana. Driving a smart on a 600 mile road trip is not attractive at all which is why we were looking to move from a fairly large toy to a very small car. But for her purposes she needed to be comfortable that the car and brand was going to be reliable. Obviously there’s no way to judge that at this point but the Fiat brand had lost some luster over the past several months so uncertainty was building."
All that said, at this stage of the game I’m on target to take delivery of my smart, I mean, Prima, tomorrow evening at – where else? – Italy’s home-away-from-home in Kansas City, Jasper’s Ristorante.