Commenters on Oppositelock and Jalopnik love taking pot-shots at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Though FCA has blessed the world with the likes of the Hellcat
family pride, the hellishly-quick and over-the-top Demon, the 500 Abarth pocket-rocket, and stylish Pacifica, it’s arguably just as well known for its CEO’s slightly manic attempts to partner with just about every automaker. Why am I all of a sudden having prom flashbacks?
But enough about desperate flailing and running around. Over in Paris, at the 2018 Rétromobile classic car show, FCA Heritage (which I didn’t even know existed) will soon present immaculately restored by the examples of vehicles from the company’s illustrious past.
Three of these cars will be billed, according to Evo, as ‘ultimate classics’. You know how Porsche recently built their one-millionth 911, and then decided to just keep it for themselves? Basically that, only with the last example ever produced. These three cars are a 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider, a 1981 Alfa Spidereuropa Pininfarina, and possibly the coolest of the three, a 1973 Lancia Fulvia Coupé Montecarlo.
FCA has owned the ‘91 Spider since it was produced, and used it to test custom colors. In my head I’m imagining a Skittles rainbow of old paint coming off during the restoration process.
The Spidereuropa—seriously, that’s the official name—is apparently a version of the original Fiat 124 Spider that was sold later in the model’s lifetime.
Oh, and the Fulvia? The ‘Montecarlo’ moniker is to celebrate Sandro Munari & Mario Mannucci’s win in the 1972 Monte Carlo Rally. Those are the original registration plates. ‘Scuse me, I need to lie down a while.
If that wasn’t enough #drivetastefully , FCA Heritage will also be showing off two more pieces of scrumptious bruschetta: a 1959 Lancia Appia Coupé (with bodywork by Pininfarina) and the delightfully odd-ball 1989 Alfa Romeo SZ. Not only an SZ, but the first SZ.
What’s the special occasion for letting us grimy masses admire these classics? To be honest, it would’ve been okay for FCA Heritage to say, “Eh, why not?” But they didn’t. Instead, they shocked the hell out of me.
Over the past few years, many automakers have started offering restoration services for their older classics. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, even Mazda and Pagani. Jaguar in particular’s been hard at work endearing itself to the car enthusiast community. They’ve been building continuations—not replicas, but honest-to-English-wheel continuations—of the seminal D-type, Lightweight E-Type, and XK SS. Richard Hammond even drove an XK SS in a recent Grand Tour segment, with Jeremy Clarkson taking the helm of an Aston Martin DB4 GT, another continuation.
In that episode, Jeremy shared a few thoughts regarding why automakers would decide to get involved in the restoration and continuation business. The main reason is money. An original XK SS costs millions, and Jaguar wouldn’t have seen a fraction of it if they didn’t have an official restoration program in place. Now, they can sell literally brand-new cars for a fraction of the market price, and provide a service for well-heeled customers. Petrolicious muses on this, as well.
FCA wants to get a piece of that action. But there’s a catch.
At Rétromobile, the company announced its Reloaded by Creators program. The heritage department will seek out—yes, seek out, you don’t bring your own car in—classic Alfa Romeos, Lancias, Fiats, and Abarths, restore them, and sell them to prospective owners. Sadly, they won’t all be for sale: proceeds from the program will go to getting cars restored for FCA’s own historic collection. Motor Authority reports that those five cars I listed before are the first to be put on sale. We all know the old chestnut about pricing.
Not gonna lie, I do wish FCA would think a little bigger. In particular, the omission of brands like Dodge and Plymouth—come on, no officially restored Superbird?!—seems like a misstep. That being said, seeing as the company has been having money issues, a more cautious approach like this makes some sense.
Still, it’s hard not being at least a little bit excited. FCA’s doing resto-work! The possibility exists of buying a Lancia Delta Integrale Evo in showroom stock condition! Whatever their motivation, I’m celebratin’.