A Christmas Story (Sort Of)

I thought you might want to hear a tender Christmas story.

I worked my way through college as a Volvo mechanic, 1969-71.During those years, the extremely dependable but dated Volvo 120 series was being replaced by the extremely trendy but unreliable 140 series.

Our shop foreman decided to buy a small Fiat, about 1500cc, saying that he could no longer trust the Volvo, and furthermore, he REALLY loved the TREMENDOUS gas mileage of the Fiat. The first week he had the Fiat, he did nothing but rave about the gas mileage, so we decided to help him. Every day we would add, at first a pint, then more and more gas to his tank when he wasn't looking. He went crazy.

Our skeptical-looking (we were all in on it) crew would be regaled by his tales of getting, well, first it was 34, then 50, the 63 miles per gallon. He would snarl condescendingly at our gas-guzzling Volvos, then reflect on the brilliance of Italian engineering. The Fiat dealership, of course, had several explanations. Tight engine. American gas. Driving habits.Then we gradually began to reduce the amount we added, until it was zero, and then of course we siphoned increasing amounts from the Fiat's tank.

At first, the bragging slowed to a stop. He became surly. How was the Fiat? Wouldn't answer. Then of course he kept taking it back to the Fiat dealership, which, of course, had several explanations. Tight engine. American gas. Driving habits. In the end, he found us out, and our schedules were screwed for months. I worked 11 hours on Christmas Eve, 1970. That's the Christmas part.

Merry Christmas, guys, and a happy and talkative New Year.

Will Davis
Mill Valley, CA

[ As Read on Car Talk ]