Vene, vidi, vici! Partying with the Fiat 500 Turbo at Italian Car Day.

Written by on August 11, 2015 in Cars and Chicks, Perspectives, Trends - 12 Comments
Original photograph by Chris Langley

Original photograph by Chris Langley

What do you take to Italian Car Day? Why, a white 2015 Fiat 500 Turbo, with a splash of red and green stripes for a little extra brio. With its alert and peppy stance, the smartly rounded contours of the small car harked back to an era of earthy romance. Generously outfitted with bright red – rosso, excuse me – leather seats, that were deliciously accommodating, while the dash and doors were embellished with shiny silver accents. And with 135 horsepower, I knew I’d be able to hold my own with the other paisans – at least in the Fiat neighbourhood.

All week long, I wheeled around town in the Fiat, gathering smiles and nods of approval. Inside, the white, red and black interior was tinged with a vintage feel in a bow to the Cinquecento’s glorious Italian past. Why, even the silver door handles could have siphoned espresso on a Gaggia!

The organizers promised a park full of Italian cars, old and new, exotic and bizarre, and just plain mouth-watering. Naturally, the festivities were happening in Woodbridge, the heart of the Italian community, at a great sprawling campagna of a lush park. As I pulled up to the entrance, I caught sight of a De Thomaso Pantera in my rear-view mirror – yes, I was in the right place.


Below me, the rolling green lawn was awash in a sea of stunning Italian metal. There was a row of Lamborghinis here, several rows of Ferraris there, a quartiere of Fiats going back through the decades. In fact, both a Fiat and an Alfa Romeo club had travelled from Ottawa and Montreal just for the day. And was it just my imagination, or were three-quarters of the cars red?

Roped off in its own corral, the undisputed star of the show was a brand new sizzling red LaFerrari, weighing in at a cool $1.3 million. Surrounded by paparazzi (which almost outnumbered the cars), the extravagantly voluptuous beast seemed barely constrained by its humble barricade. Finally, it roared, an angry glissade of a screech that shook the park, and seemed ready to take flight.


LaFerrari about to take flight.

But the romantic strains of Italian pop and opera soon resumed, and as I wandered past the Maseratis, with children chasing each other and tumbling on the grass, the smell of pizza and sausage on the grill, I could have been in Italy, at a grand family outing on a generations-old palazzo. Complete strangers offered me sandwiches, beverages, desserts, and joked with me like a long-lost member of the clan.

Finally, I wandered over to the Panteras, the refined and sexy exotics sporting a Ford V-8 under their hoods, and fell in love with a 1972 blood red head-turner, with an unusual black spoiler. The Pantera was designed by Argentinian cattle baron Alejandro De Thomaso, who fled to Italy when he invoked the ire of Juan Peron. His visionary vehicle was a quixotic amalgam of Italian sleek with American muscle, and for some reason, only appealed to enthusiasts with a taste for the otherworldly. Sold in North America at Ford Lincoln dealerships, maybe prospective buyers simply got confused.

Like any avant-garde sexpot, the Pantera has a checkered history. Elvis Presley had a yellow 1971 model that he shot in a fit of pique, right in the steering wheel and the dash. The car is now safely in a museum, with the bullet holes still visible.

1972 DeThomas Pantera

1972 DeThomaso Pantera

Another celebrity owner was hockey player Tim Horton, who met an untimely demise in his Pantera. Other noteworthy owners include Ricky Nelson, King Gustav of Sweden, and of course, Jay Leno. There are even rumours that the rock band Pantera named themselves after the car, but … those are only rumours.

After a full day at the Ital-fest, I was pretty spent. Chomping on a hunk of pizza, I reclined on the comfy rosso seats in my Fiat and glanced around me. The late afternoon sun beat down on the grass, and I could smell leather and motor oil. Children were laughing, and Pavarotti was singing Puccini.

Chilling in my Fiat, I almost felt like la donna e mobile. But that was probably the sun.

Still, who knew? Italy really is a state of mind.

And about 140 spectacular Ital-mobiles.

Fiat Front



12 Comments on "Vene, vidi, vici! Partying with the Fiat 500 Turbo at Italian Car Day."

  1. Phoenicia August 12, 2015 at 6:16 am · Reply

    Looks as though you had fun at the Italian Car Show. The Fiat looks cute but perhaps a little small for me. This car would a petite woman.

    Wow – the LaFerrari looks amazing. Then it should do with that price tag!

    • Krystyna Lagowski August 14, 2015 at 2:04 am · Reply

      Phoenicia, you’d be amazed at how roomy the Fiat is inside. Tons of head room and leg room, only looks small from the outside. And yes, the LaFerrari was an incredible piece of machinery – there were only 500 made, and this was one of three in Canada. Quite the vehicle!

  2. Jacqueline Gum August 12, 2015 at 10:52 am · Reply

    That car looks adorable! I love the stripes! But that Ferrari is so sexy…wow! I love car shows tooo,, and this looks like a really fun time:)

  3. Krystyna Lagowski August 14, 2015 at 2:06 am · Reply

    Jacqui, this was so much more than a car show. It really felt like a party! There was food, music, and everyone was so incredibly friendly and generous. My little Fiat was quite the hit with its Italian colours, but of course, nothing could steal the thunder from the LaFerrari. I wouldn’t even want to try : ))

  4. Erica August 14, 2015 at 1:59 pm · Reply

    I’ve never heard of the Pantera, but I can see why Elvis wanted one. I am partial to Fiats and there is a good chance that my next car will be a Fiat. I love the little stripes. It makes me want to get stripes on my car.

    • Krystyna Lagowski August 24, 2015 at 2:32 am · Reply

      It’s rare to see one Pantera in the wild, but to see a whole group of them is simply outrageous. And yes, the stripes just make it more fun. I believe there’s a variety of different types that you can order!

  5. Marquita Herald August 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm · Reply

    I have to agree with Phoenicia on the size thing. It is a cute car but it would give me claustrophobia because I definitely need more room … like SUV level room! Looks like a great day though.

    • Krystyna Lagowski August 24, 2015 at 2:31 am · Reply

      Well, if it’s an SUV you want, there is now a Fiat 500 SUV! And it is much more spacious inside than one would think, which is just one of the many things that I love about it.

  6. Tim August 15, 2015 at 7:03 pm · Reply

    Ever since Fiat came out with the scorpion ads I have liked them. These cars you talk about and the photos above are gorgeous and I wouldn’t be a man if the ferrari did not get my heart racing a little bit.

    • Krystyna Lagowski August 24, 2015 at 2:30 am · Reply

      Oh, that ad! But the car can’t help but inspire creativity. They do know their audience. I think Fiat has some of the best adverts around. Also love that they use that fabulous version of Isaac Hayes “Walk on By.”

  7. Susan Cooper August 18, 2015 at 5:16 pm · Reply

    Oh WOW, these are a cute as a button… and the size of one. I know they would be super practical in around town on short trips. I think a long road trip would be bit of a challenge.

    • Krystyna Lagowski August 24, 2015 at 2:26 am · Reply

      That’s always the first observation, Susan – cute! And yet, it’s a surprisingly practical car, with more room on the inside than you’d think.

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