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A Fiat Accompli: Rodeo Drive, Italian style

Sun, 19 Jun 2011

The annual Father's Day car celebration, the Rodeo Drive Concours, has feted many a marque over the years, from the inaugural show in 1993 honoring the Ferrari 348 Spyder to one year that celebrated the first 100 years of the automobile by bringing one representative car from each of those 100 years.

But this year, it was Fiat. Yes, Fiat, the humble little car that put Italy back on wheels after the war.

Why Fiat in a city that probably has more Ferraris per cubic centimeter than any other place on the planet? Well, this is the introduction of the almost-painfully cute Fiat 500, and there were 14 of them parked on Rodeo, complete with test drives for potential customers. And who hasn't fallen in love with an X1-9 or a 128 at one time or another?

While that makes perfect sense from Fiat's point of view, as with so many things in Beverly Hills, ultimately, it was all about the lira.

“When you put on a show like this, you need sponsors,” said Rodeo Drive merchant, real estate holder and Southern California collector car force mejeur Bruce Meyer. “Well, Fiat, bringing out their Cinquecento, decided this would be a perfect place to roll out all their cars, and they put in a beautiful Italian bistro down the street, so they are our presenting sponsors. So it's all Italian this year, La Dolce Vita.”

And while there were plenty of Fiats on hand, including X1-9s, Bianchis and original Cinquecentos, as well as a pair of Brass Era Fiats in fine shape, there also were plenty of beautiful Alfas, Maseratis, Ferraris and motorcycles to go with the free gelato Fiat was doling out down at the south end of Rodeo. There was even an Italian boat--David Sydorick's real Venetian gondola, complete with gondolier. Sydorick's Fiat 8V Supersonic, which won best of show.

And best of all, as any dad will tell you, this show is always free. Just park your car and walk on up. Bring Mom or whoever else who might not like cars and let them go shopping at Tiffany's--sure it'll be expensive, but you get a whole day to tool around the cars. There was something for everyone. But most of all there were great cars, just as there are every year. Start planning now for Father's Day 2012.

By Mark Vaughn