My relationship with classics started kind of in a different way as many other might have.
I was born in Argentina and raised in North Italy, my childhood had always been in between engines, from my dads, Giorgio’s mechanics garage, till seeing my younger sister grow up as a manager in the automotive industry.
My first model car was a red Ferrari f40 from Burago that my father still keeps safe as a treasure. For me, on those days, was funnier to use it as a skateboard.
Before that f40 my parents tried to give me a big red ambulance, but I was way more fascinated by my older sisters paintbrushes and heavy metal music tapes laying in her room.
As you might realise cars and engines were never a thing in my mind, until one day, while a dinner in Italy, a friend jokingly suggested that I should take a 500 to Vienna.
We both laughed at the idea but somehow it started to grow on me and all seemed easy. Sadly back in Vienna, discussing it with friends the reaction was quite different from what I expected.
Most people were seeing it as a crazy plan, how was I planning to transport it, trailer, train, what did I need it for?
Why don’t get a new car instead, but a car was never a need in my life.
I didn’t want a car from a shop, so the solution was to call Giorgio, let him confirm that the car was safe, and drive it 1100km till Vienna.
Sooner that I knew I had a plane ticket and I was flying to Nice with a licence plate ready to hang in a 500 and close a grey and awful winter season.
From Nizza, a bus ride till Menton, a 3 hrs walk over the border from France to Italy, due to a train strike in France and finally 1 hr train till Pietra Ligure and then the moment came.
She was there, orange under the sun only 10 meters away from the seaside.
I jumped in the car and try to start the engine but nothing was as I expected, Giorgio’s face filled up with a big smile when he realised that I had no idea how to turn the engine on or how to switch the gears.
You might think that that’s pretty easy, but the 500 got a non-electronic starter with one lever for the choke, one for the starter and a not synchronised gearbox that requires double clutch between gear shifts.
Suddenly all the commentaries from friends started to make sense, I wanted to drive over the Alps for 1000 km on a car that was not even able to start or shift gears. We decided to go for a fast training, full check by dad and after few glasses of red wine, we called it a day.
The morning of the trip was on. The tiny 500 was waiting for me on the parking lot, after the last check and loading the luggage, was time to leave.
Vienna here I come!!!!
I started the solo trip driving slowly on the coast streets to after 30 km take the highway direction Milano.
The average speed was 80 km h, the minimum to be allowed on Italian highways, keeping the engine calm and trying to find out how many of the original 18hp was the engine still having with.
The destination for the first day was Udine. A 600 km drive from the starting point, taking care of making a break each hour for a coffee to let the engine cool down due to its air-cooled rear engine. Surprisingly without problems and lots of smiles from people on the highway, the day came to an end and the bed was waiting.
On the second day, the weather was not so kind with the 500, rain and having in front the path over the Alps was not good news.
Shy and slowly, started the drive through the streets in Udine hoping to don’t get any snow on the way on that cold March morning.
Before I could realise, I was overtaking trucks on the hills up to the border between Austria and Italy. It was the funnier and crazier driving experience of my life. Such a tiny orange car climbing the Alps, letting heavy & giant trucks behind.Snow on the sides of the road, no radio, no heating a big blanket over my legs and the emotion of being rocking the Alps and putting smiles on the faces of people inside the cars that overtook me or on the fueling stops.
Snow on the sides of the road, no radio, no heating, the loud engine sound behind my head, a big blanket over my legs and the emotion of being rocking the Alps. All putting smiles on the faces of people inside the cars that overtook me and having fun chats and photos on the fueling stops.
Unbelievably the minutes were passing by like seconds, me hanging on the huge driving wheel and suddenly, Vienna’s landscape was in front of me.
How was it possible?? 2 days of driving, cold and fear were all gone without realising it. The 500 was finally under the Viennese night sky, a cold beer was in my hand and a car had stolen my heart.
But why a 500 and why an L model? L= love at first sight.