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Club Members Share Their Personal Fiat 500 Stories

Eric Boswell bought the ash blue Fiat Giardiniera new in 1967 for Mary, his late wife. The car cost 498 pounds 3 shillings and 9 pence! Mary quickly christened the car “Aida” and used her to ferry their two young daughters Janice and Gillian everywhere.

Both girls learnt to drive in Aida successfully passing their driving tests in her too. Aida then went to Bristol University in 1979 where both Janice and Gillian were studying. She was famously pushed up Constitution Hill in Clifton by some of Gillian’s friends on her first weekend. Having survived 4 years of student life Aida returned home to Eric and Mary and after a complete strip-down and respray she ‘rested’ in the garage awaiting a rebuild.

Eric with Aida and daughters Gillian (left) and Janice in 1968
Eric with Aida and daughters Gillian (left) and Janice in 1968
Picture: Eric Boswell

In 2007 Gillian mentioned to a colleague at Bristol Dental Hospital that the family still owned a fiat 500 Giardiniera. This friend happened to know of the Fiat 500 enthusiasts Club and Eric was put in touch with Jimmy and Jan Di Carlo. After a weekend of garage clearance by the girls and their partners, Aida saw the light of day for the first time in over 20 years. Jimmy took Aida and all her parts to his Fiat hospital to begin the rebuild and restore Aida to her former glory – a fitting tribute to Mary.

Aida made her debut at the Broadlands Pageant of Motoring in August 2009, and she looked fabulous: thanks to Jimmy and Jan Di Carlo. Eric joined the committee the following year and whilst he is not as mobile as he would like, he is very active with the club bringing Aida along (with a bit of help) to as many events as he can. The club has given Aida and Eric a new lease of life with its friendly atmosphere: you can’t be too serious if you own a Fiat 500!

Eric with Aida, Gillian (right this time) and Janice in 2011
Eric with Aida, Gillian (right this time) and Janice in 2011
Picture: Eric Boswell

Steven Abbott “I was lucky enough to live in Rome during the 1990’s, where 500’s were still buzzing around the streets – cutting up much larger cars, double/triple parking along the roads (or just being dumped on the pavements) and generally being hugely entertaining to watch. I only ever drove in one once – four British blokes, all my size (not thin nor short!) and off to a pub in the centre of Rome in a borrowed 500. That was it – had to have one. ”

“Paola and I met and married in Italy - one day we went up to the top of the mountain near their town. At the top, we parked next to a 500 F. As I admired it, she announced it was mine, as had bought it for me! We used it as a packing case to ship all our stuff back to the UK, and then I started restoring it. In the end, and after alot of fun learning, it turned out to be too much of a project for my limited skills - so I ended up getting another 500 (a D) and, having learned my lesson, have done no restoring at all. It may not be pride of the classic car shows, but it’s fun, draws a crowd and, as I haven’t touched the mechanics, it works!”

“We go back to Italy every year and, although there are less and less, 500’s are still used in the towns and villages as every day cars.”

Wallace and Steven (right) restoring the 500 F (apparently)
Wallace and Steven (right) restoring the 500 F (apparently)
Picture: Steven Abbott

“The photo’s show Wallace and myself preparing the 500 F for its restoration - which we gave up when it became too difficult. The 500 F rolling shell was bought by a ‘trainee mechanic’ who was talking about turning it into a bit of a beast – with bucket seats and huge engine across the back seats. Unfortunately I lost touch with him, so don’t know if he ever completed it.”

Wallace grinding. Gromit elsewhere
Wallace grinding. Gromit elsewhere
Picture: Steven Abbott