2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Get an Espresso and a Fiat
June 08, 2011
The buying process for this little Euro-mobile was as unique as the car itself. We saw the Fiat 500 at auto shows for more than a year so we knew we wanted to be one of the first to own it. Usually, that means getting on a list of interested buyers and paying ridiculous over-sticker prices. But when I called Joel Nelson, general sales manager for Motor Village LA he said there wasn't going to be any of that kind of nonsense. He took our order (Sport, with a sunroof and the Safety and Sound package), we paid a $500 deposit and waited.
Over the next two months, Nelson kept us posted on the 500's status as it moved from the factory in Toluca, Mexico, to a freight train and finally to the dealership. On a hot Friday morning in early March I drove down to sign papers and get our new car with Ron Montoya.
Motor Village LA is a tall, brick building just off the jammed Harbor Freeway -- a great way to advertise to all the people stuck in traffic. Next to the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Dodge Ram nameplates on the side of the building is the rather incongruous looking round, red Fiat badge.
This separation continues, in fact, as a different door leads to the Fiat showroom on the upper floors than to the domestic brands on the ground floor. In the entry way they have one of the original Fiat 500s looking more like a radio controlled model car than something you'd actually climb into.
The showroom was still being finished as we walked in but it was already lined with a row of brightly colored Fiats. It also has a café where it's easy to imagine high fashion Romans sipping espressos and lattes while discussing the meaning of life. Nelson greeted us and turned us over to Fiat Specialist Edwin Arredondo who escorted us through the buying process. He took us up the roof where there were Fiats parked all over the place. The salesman told us that two of them, with the Prima Edizione badge on the side, belonged to Jay Leno.
Nelson says that the Motor Village LA Fiat dealership is often the first or second in sales every month, selling about 40 during that time. Initially, Nelson said that only Fiat purists were the ones who were buying the car. "They knew everything about the 500. And if you didn't pronounce the name of the town in Italy where such-in-such happened, they didn't think you knew what you were talking about." But now, Nelson says, it's more diversified. Recently, a mother and daughter came in shopping for a fuel efficient economy car and bought the 500.
To sign the paperwork we were escorted to the finance and insurance office which felt distinctly un-European. Ron commented, "No matter what you buy, you always wind up in the F&I room." A very professional woman presented an intimidating array of forms, documents and contracts. Since we'll only have the car a bit over a year we turned down the extended warranty and all other extras that were offered. We handed over a check for $21,451 (the sticker price of $19,200 plus taxes and fees) and headed outside to get our car.
We needed to do one more thing before we left -- get a shot of the 500 in front of the dealer. Motor Village LA is located on Figueroa Street just south of Los Angeles and the traffic through the area is vicious with little room to even stop for a second. So Nelson had a porter drive our Fiat 500 up on the curb for its beauty shot --another car buying first for me.