Remember our friend Peter Hessler? He wrote a personal letter to the FIAT® brand to share his FIAT fan story
. We appreciated the letter so much we published it on FIAT Backstage
, and then we reached back out to Peter and his wife Tammy to ask them more about their FIAT 500 and FIAT 500L Trekking. Let’s have them share the reasons they love their FIAT vehicles, in their own words:
FIAT: What were some of the biggest differences you noticed in your drive after making the switch to your FIAT 500?
Peter: The FIAT 500 turned the drive from a grind to a more enjoyable experience, zipping around or sitting in traffic. I enjoy the feel of acceleration, the nice revving sound of the engine and the iconic look as if I was suddenly stylish. I receive a lot more comments and questions, and more people look at the car as I drive — along with a few waves from fellow Cinquecento drivers … like I am suddenly part of the “cool car club.”
FIAT: You wrote that you only recently had to replace the original windshield wipers. That’s pretty impressive living in Seattle. What are some other features that you’ve learned can stand the test of time?
Peter: In essence, my FIAT 500 doesn’t drive like the stereotypical sports car; it stays well put-together. My FIAT 500 has been a pleasure to drive that makes one remember when driving was a pleasure. The seamless movement as you shift from lower to top gear when you accelerate; the feeling that when you push a button or punch the accelerator you know you’ll get the desired response. All this, combined with classic, iconic styling makes it a real pleasure to drive. It truly enhances
la dolce vita.
FIAT: What are specific moments that led your passion for the FIAT brand to grow?
Peter: The moment my wife and I looked at it — it reminded us of a modern version of the Cinquecento … iconic and the automotive symbol of a country. We both got in the back seat to see if we would fit (we’re not petite) and were pleasantly surprised that we did. This started the love to grow. I then took it for a test drive and it drove nicely. The love matured over time, where I appreciated the little things my FIAT 500 could do — streaming my music whilst charging my phone, opening the moon roof on a sunny day, scoring that nice parking spot in downtown Seattle that nobody else could seem to squeeze into, finding an identical blue FIAT 500 Pop.
FIAT: In what ways have you felt your FIAT 500 has pushed you to go farther?
Peter: When I’ve had it accelerate quickly — going into “Sport” mode and hugging the curves of the road with little slowing down. When I took it “off-road” on a Forest Service gravel road — loaded down with Scouts and backpacks. When driving on a road-trip with my wife — the fun experience and in-car entertainment make it a joy to drive — which makes these trips more enjoyable.
FIAT: How did your experience with our FIAT service team help you make your purchase decision, and your follow-up purchase for your FIAT 500L?
Peter: They were never pushy, always treated me well and never tried to upsell. It’s very stylish and open — with a welcoming yet cool, chic feel with retro-‘50s chairs, hot chocolate or coffee drinks, bottled water and welcoming salespeople who also make sure you’re taken care of. The service team is so prompt; it’s almost like having my own personal pit crew. I think overall — the service team anticipated my needs and the needs of my vehicle. They were very friendly, accommodating and knew what they were doing.
Tammy: We would go in for maintenance on the FIAT 500 and would sit in the 500L, dreaming of the drive. The salesmen weren't pushy and allowed us to just be at-one with the car. That made the difference ... being relaxed and happy every time we went in.
FIAT: What do your neighbors think of your FIAT family? What about strangers — how do they react to your FIAT family?
Peter: We are known as the “FIAT Family” since they’re the only cars we have and neighbors smile and wave — it’s easy to know who’s driving by. All the neighbors have commented on how “cute” the vehicles are, how impressed they are by the fuel economy, and how comfortable the vehicles are inside … and the nice stereo system. A neighbor down the road liked them and ended up getting a newer FIAT 500 like mine, though it’s an automatic transmission, white and a 2015 model year. I also get interesting looks when I come out of the grocery store with my shopping cart — people are amazed that I can fit it all in.
Tammy: Hahaha ... Driving a FIAT in the neighborhood does make it easier for the neighbors to recognize who is waving at them every day.
FIAT: How have your FIAT 500 and FIAT 500L influenced other unique lifestyle decisions?
Peter: I’m more passionate and animated when driving. I stream more music in French and Italian. My wife listens to SiriusXM® Satellite Radio, which she really likes. We don’t fear road trips.
Tammy: I had a minivan before with just two kids in it. I didn't want to feel like a soccer mom. Now I think I’m a teenager again and the FIAT 500L makes me crave a trip to Europe again.
FIAT: In what way do your vehicles reflect your personalities?
Peter: We’re “Europhiles” and love well-designed, classic looks. For some reason, French and Italians are a little less casual in their appearance and manners and we enjoy that. But there’s also character and a personality with subtle humor, passion and an enjoyment of life — not taking anything too seriously but understanding the bigger picture and putting things in perspective. Our vehicles reflect this: our love of Euro-styling, a classic, chic retro look that says, “I get the job done and look stylish doing it.” Though they’re both FIAT Cinquecenti, my 2-door Pop is a fast-driving, corner-hugging car that is stylish and fun to drive. Driving it takes my mind off of traffic or the commute and mentally transports me away from the worries of the day.
My wife’s is more practicable to her needs and plays on her likes — BeatsAudio™
(she also likes to play her music loud), a higher suspension to feel like you’re up high like an SUV, extra seating for two kids, a spouse and dog, plus storage, but also drives well, makes the right noises, handles well and is also a joy for her to drive. I think it brings back fond memories from when she lived in Sicily and Puglia.
Tammy: I like space and not to feel closed in, which works great with the four-door. I’m a go-getter who’s practical, and that is written all over the style of the 500L. Viva Italia.
FIAT: Describe how your FIAT 500 lets you live la dolce vita.
Peter: Ha – I even have a license plate frame that says it (on the front) with little Italian flags on either side. The back has a “Ciao Bella” frame. It makes life sweet because it’s a fun car to drive, it’s cute, fast and has all needed conveniences and safety features. I can stream my Italian music playlists and pretend I’m driving through Italian countryside. It just makes me enjoy life more — worry-free. We’re even planning to put a bocce court in the backyard to further embrace the Italian feel. Life seems great when you’re not worried about a car breaking down, and it’s nice to de-stress going for a drive through the countryside on the way home, revving that engine as your hug the corners.
It’s important to keep in touch with valued member of our Italian family. Thanks for sharing your experience, Peter and Tammy. Find out how you can start living la dolce vita at fiatusa.com.