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Why did Fiat leave? The wheels probably didn't help...

> From: Dwight Varnes <xmxbreed@domain.elided>
> Subject: Why Fiat bailed
> Why did Fiat leave? Let me count the ways....
> _
> If you look back, Fiat put a lot of effort and much of its hopes for the
> future in the Strada. - Unfortunately, it was butt-ugly, had round door 
> handles, and a
> number of teething problems (i.e. alternators, emissions recalls) right
> away in its life. 

One other thing that made me wonder about Fiat was the wheels. In my
college days, (and I should say early college days as I still go now and
then,) I used to bust tires, and back then, the Coats 40-40 was the
standard. The machine held down the wheel by way of a threaded, hollow
shaft. The shaft was threaded because a large nut was screwed down to
hold the wheel in place (like a 128 spare tire) while the machine broke
the beads' seals, and it was hollow because there was a shaft with a
flat tip that rotated inside of it and the tip turned the bar around the
perimeter of rim and either sliped the bead off or on...

Now I know that probably 99% of you are saying, "Yeah Dan, we've all
seen those." Well, I just mentioned it because there might be some kids
in the audience who've never seen them. It's kind of like my buddy
Warren says, "They're the same kids who when you say, 'Well, remember
the band Paul McCartney used to be in?', and they say, "Oh yeah, Wings!"

Well I haven't seen a Coats machine in years, why, because everyone is
into the different type (or maybe I should say European type) where a
large plier breaks the beads, and the wheel is grabed from inside of the
back and turned while a rod is used against a suspended fulcrum to
remove the tire. Marvelous invention. They take a bit getting used to. I
had the pleasure of using one a couple months ago.

"Yeah what the hell's the point?"

Those old Fiat wheels that they first put on the X-1/9's didn't have the
large chrome hubcap of the older Fiats. No, they had the little hub cap
that covered a very small hole. 

A hole too small to fit over the shaft of a Coat tire machine!

And now think about the Strada. I don't think that it's fair to say that
it was butt-ugly, just maybe ahead of it's time in some ways. After all,
American cars usually had a standard steel wheel with fancy simulated
wire wheel hubacaps. The old foriegn cars had the steel wheel with a
baby moon-like hubcap or just the little center hub cap. After '78, Fiat
started making wheels that were styling elements unto themselves. I
recall some wheels like on a '79 spider that I had where there was a
small plastic hub cap, and I remember wheels on a 131 and on a Brava
that I had where there was a medium sized hub cap that was held on by
the lug nuts.

I admit that I never owned a Strada (and I'd love to now, but I'm busy
with my Alfas and fat chance finding one much less in marginal
condition,) but that wheel didn't even have a hole in the center. (Am I
remembering this correctly?) How do you change tires much less put in on
a tire balancer?

Again, I may be full of it regarding the Strada wheel, but those early
X-1/9 wheels must have been a problem at Joe's Garage or Sears. But to
me that is a good illustration of how little Fiat was dedicated to
making it in the States. They never designed the cars with North America
in mind, and then always slapped on emmission controls, etc. as an after
thought. Another example that drives me nut about my 128 (and my
Alfetta) is that they jacked the front end up to meet bumper height
requirements. That's a funny thing about a lot of Fiats and many Alfas
is that there is always a certain modification that makes the car
acceptable, otherwise, it's just a car...

And before you all get ready to flame me, I don't offer this as a
accepted reason why Fiat left, it's just an observation that *I've*
always had...


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