Monday 21st January 2013


This week's Carpooler has a thing for rear-engined, air-cooled cars ... of all types

Name: Oli Smith
Car: Fiat 500F
Owned since: September 2012
Previously owned: MG Midget, Jaguar C-Type Replica, SIIA Land Rover, Austin A30, Ford Anglia 1500GT, Jaguar Mk2, Lola F2, AC Cobra 289, Volvo Amazon. Currently have 930 Turbo, Alfa Giulia Saloon, '32 Riley Brooklands and an Opel Manta Rally Car.

Your Carpooler, in Goodwood attire
Your Carpooler, in Goodwood attire
Why I bought it:
"My work circumstances changed and I needed a car to run around town in. Being a natural born skinflint something tax exempt was high on the list. When this came up it was too good to miss. I bought from the guy who had imported it from Italy so I registered it with the DVLA and off I went!"

What I wish I'd known:
"I did a little research on the 500 before I paid out. The main advice that I received was that the bits that don't rust are the windows. Apart from that and some mild kingpin-based drama at the MoT centre it's been pretty plain sailing."

Things I love:
"The fact that everything works! Amazingly even the interior light functions on cue and everybody knows what reputation Italian electrics have. I also like the fact that you can't be in a hurry in this car which is quite nice. Rushing is futile, all you have to do is relax (between the synchro-less gear changes) and wobble on."

13hp - yes, 13hp - of air-cooled, tax-free fun
13hp - yes, 13hp - of air-cooled, tax-free fun
Things I hate:
"It sounds strange but some days you're just not in the mood to be pointed and laughed at by school children."

"Fuel economy played a part in my purchase decision but after using the car for a few weeks I sat down and calculated 28mpg around town. This is simply because I drive it flat out but this isn't as reckless as it sounds when you only have 13hp at your disposal. Insurance is £78 fully comp and the tax is free."

Where I've been:
"Just to work and back so far. Once a week I'll give it a good run to warm it up and get it breathing. My last vmax run saw 66mph which certainly focused my concentration - picture the Apollo 13 re-entry scene."

Kids can be cruel according to Oli
Kids can be cruel according to Oli
What next?
"I can't leave things alone for very long so a 650cc engine and 'box are on the cards along with uprated suspension. As far as other toys go I have a 997 GT3 RS shaped itch that needs scratching so I should probably start playing the Lottery."







Author: Dan Trent
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