1963 Fiat 1500

My first car was a white 1963 Fiat 1500. I bought it for $130 in 1988. I had always liked Fiats as my uncle had a 124BC and a 500. My dad also had a good friend who owned numerous Fiat 500s, 600s and also a 124AC. My friend at school had also bought a Fiat 124 to restore,and his sister had an 850. Inspirational. He helped me get my first Fiat up and running. When I took it for its roadworthy, the mechanic told me it needed new ball joints. I didn’t even know what they were, but some friendly advice from a neighbour, and the borrowing of an angle grinder to remove the huge rivets soon had me heading in the right direction.

Booked in for the second roadworthy, the starter motor decided not to work, so mum towed the car there. On the way the rope snapped and I was stranded across someone’s driveway. Of course they turned up almost instantly so I had to jump out and push my car out of the way. A knot in the rope got us the rest of the way there. Did this put me off owning an old car – not at all. Learning how everything worked, and being able to fix most things myself was great.

Finally I had the roadworthy and was able to use the car on my learners permit. It was so exciting to be out on the road in my own car.

While I was fixing it up, I also picked up some old road test magazines to learn more about my car when it was new. I was very impressed to find that the four cylinder Fiat engine had more power than an EJ Holden six, and out of 25 cars tested, it’s top speed of 91 mph was 7th fastest beaten by the Valiant S, 92 mph, Fiat 2300 92.8mph, Fairlane 500 93.5 mph, the MG1600 MkII at 100mph, Mercedes 220 SE at 105mph and jaguar 3.8 MK II at 125 mph. Therefore in that test it was the fastest medium 4 door sedan of the day. A quote from the road test summary: “ While not intended as a sports car, it can behave in a sporting fashion yet provide good top gear performance.” I guess that means that before Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May came along, we had the Fiat 1500.

No wonder people at car shows have told me stories of sitting behind cars at 60mph for a while then opening the second barrel of the Weber carburettor and blasting past other road users (in the good old days). It also had standard disc brakes on the front and a fantastic heater and warning lights for everything.

As you can imagine, with all that power under the hood, it was inevitable that a new P plate driver would try to take advantage of it. I crashed my poor car just three months after getting my licence but thankfully walked away without a scratch. I put my spare white 1500 on the road for few years, then came across a very good blue 1500 that I found at a recking yard. $150 later I had the car that I used for my wedding, and still own today. I’m pretty sure there are still a few donor parts of my original 1500 that continue to travel with me.

No wonder people at car shows have told me stories of sitting behind cars at 60mph for a while then opening the second barrel of the weber carburettor and blasting past other road users (in the good old days). It also had standard disc brakes on the front and a fantastic heater and warning lights for everything.

As you can imagine, with all that power under the hood, it was inevitable that a new P plate driver would try to take advantage of it. I crashed my poor car just three months after getting my licence but thankfully walked away without a scratch. I put my spare white 1500 on the road for few years, then came across a very good blue 1500 that I found
at a wrecking yard. $150 later I had the car that I used for my wedding, and still own today. I’m pretty sure there are still a few donor parts of my original 1500 that continue to travel with me.

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