2012 Fiat 500: Bene Formaggio!
January 06, 2012
Ok, what the heck does cheese have to do with cars? Well, lemme tell you...
Besides my abiding love for all things motorized, I also have an obsession with food and drink. And that's not at all unique, as I've found through the years.
Case in point: The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. It's one of my favorite places on the planet, right up there with Laguna Seca, Big Sur or pretty much anywhere in Italy. I've been fortunate to befriend the owner, Norbert, who turns out to be a bit of a car nut as we all are. Whenever I get a cool car, I make a point to drop by to see how he reacts. Besides Norbert, there are plenty of other car folk to chat up, one of whom set up the Kulinary Mille that I ran in our long-term Mustang.
Last night, I fulfilled a promise to bring by our Fiat 500. When Norbert saw it he had the same reaction that most people do. It's also the same reaction some people have when they see a puppy. "Awwwwwww," he said as he walked towards the car, with his arms outstretched as though he was going to hug it. "Cute as a button," he exclaimed.
Yes, that's a testament to the Cinqucento's appeal. Norbert has had quite the collection of cars, so he knows his stuff. Jaguar XK120s, Healy 3000s, a small-block-Chevy-powered Ferrari 330 GT, a Porsche Speedster and Ural motorcycle with sidecar have all graced his driveway, but he still pines for a 300SL Gullwing. He's our people.
He seemed to genuinely take to our Fiat 500, noting the abundance of interior space and fun and zippy city car character. He also was quite adamant that he'd prefer one of these to a Mini Cooper (current, not the original) any day. And I'm with him on that.
There's something so distinctly charming about the Fiat. To me, and as much as I like Minis, I think they try too hard to be quirky. Of course, we can't wait for the Abarth to arrive, and hopefully I'll get a reaction out of Norbert, as well as some cheese. Ahhhh, cheese. By the way, pictured above is a triple creme Brillat Savarin that I brought into the office this morning. It didn't last long.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor