The alure of the (unreliable) Fiat Spider

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am interested in buying a used Fiat Spider. The reason I'm interested is that the Spider is the only sports car convertible within my meager means. I know very little about these cars other than what my father says. He says "Italians make nice looking cars that don't run, and Germans make ugly but reliable cars." Is there any truth to this statement?

RAY: There's a lot of truth to this statement, Peter. Italians have always placed a premium on beauty. They're great at things like statues, cathedrals, and stuff like that.

TOM: The Germans, on the other hand, have always placed a premium on functionality and precision. Their trains run on time. They make wonderful machine tools and consumer appliances.

RAY: And we agree with your father that the differences are reflected in the cars that come out of these countries. The Fiat Spider, and the Alfa Romeo are beautiful Italian cars. I just wouldn't want to count on them to get me out of a tight spot (ever notice how few Fiats are used as getaway cars in bank robberies?).

TOM: But as with many beautiful things, we tend to look past their faults. This worked for my first wife for a while. Anyway, if you love the way your Fiat Spider looks, you'll forgive the fact that it doesn't start every other day, that the roof leaks, or that a different body part loosens up every time you go over a bump. Keeping it running will become a labor of love. So go for the Spider, Peter!

RAY: And when the magic wears off, trade it in for a nice diesel Rabbit.

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