I went for a bike ride after work tonight to try out my “Happy Birthday to me” present which arrived the previous day. It’s an upgrade accessory for my CX/Commute bike, a gorgeous Tailfin Rack and Pannier. The ARC-3 doesn't have rack mounts and although I could, did , use my MTB seat post pannier it was a bit clunky and not really what the frame was designed for.
The Tailfin is a light carbon ‘arch’ which mounts, with quick release clips, to an extended axle. A stabilising bar loops around the seat post and two waterproof pannier bags quick release lock to pegs on the arch. It makes for a light, elegant and (even on gravel as I found tonight) rattle free bag system. Thanks B for the recommendation!
The other reason for the ride was to collect my faithful old Fiat Bravo HGT. It clocked up its 252,252’nd kilometre on the way to work today but I abandoned it halfway home tonight as collected a new (to me) companion. The balance of the drive, extended by an excursion around ‘The Scenic Drive”, was in a (Fiat) Abarth 500 Esseesse.
Although the HGT mechanicals are now fine after the gearbox fix last year I had started thinking about another car. The problem is I like Italian cars and manual gearboxes which narrowed the field somewhat. In the end I decided the sort of money I needed to spend to get the same/better performance was just too much for a car which didn’t inspire me.
When this Esseesse appeared in my TradeMe “Fiat” search I realised I could keep the HGT and have it too. The added overhead of another rego, WOF and Insurance really don't amount to much, especially for two cars I love!
This 1.4 Turbo roller skate was NZ new, has had just one loving owner and will partner the Bravo HGT. It is a hoot to drive, but the short wheelbase, firm suspension and tiny dimensions mean the HGT still has a role to play. I can get a bike in the back of the 500 (seats folded, both bike wheels off) but squeezing people (especially elderly family) into the rear seats isn't really practical.
I watched lots of YouTube clips, read lots of reports and the overwhelming consensus is: “In spite of the foibles, every time you drive an Abarth 500 it makes you smile”. So far, I can only agree!
The 500 will become my main daily drive and I will take the opportunity to give the HGT a cosmetic makeover, fix a carpark door bruise and a respray, to bring it back up to scratch. Although not expensive they are rare, maybe 10-20 left in NZ?, and it will be a neat ‘project car’. The 500 really wasn’t on my radar, dismissed as too small to be an ‘only car’, but has made for a very special “Happy Birthday to me 2”!
The odd symmetry is I got the HGT over a decade ago, for a very good price, as the dealer needed space to fit an influx of (then) new 500 stock on the yard. The HGT replaced a little (but not this little) white Fiat Uno 45s which I loved driving. Now I am back in a little white “Fiat 500”, albeit an Abarth with much more of a sting in its tail.