No Regrets about Fiat Dino In Spite of Immediate Breakdown
Owner and Photographer: Robert Billam
Year, Make, and Model: 1969 Fiat Dino 2.0
Location: Cannes, France
One of the best days of my life was picking up this Fiat Dino Coupe 2.0 in the underground parking of the Place Vendome, Paris. I was meeting the owner, a young French actor, and I had been instructed by Fred, of Le Blog Dino, when I first expressed a keen desire to buy the car, “be patient, J.V. is very attached to the car. You will need to accompany him gently…” I did and never, not even for one second, did I have any regrets. This is in spite of the first breakdown.
After J.V. agreed, I finally left the Place Vendome around 7:00 on a Saturday night. After only four or five kilometers, steam started pouring out of the bonnet, temperatures soared, and I was a little perturbed. It wasn’t my first classic, though, so I wasn’t too surprised. But I did have to cut the engine and roll down the other side of the Pont de Bir-Hakeim. I called telephone information for a breakdown serviceman.
He showed up and after a brief look said that he was not familiar with these engines, so he suggested the “Systeme DM” (i.e. Demerde). I was nonplussed at first, but he said he could truck the car to Aubervilliers, and there was someone there who might help. It was now 8:30 pm but since it was July there was still lots of daylight. After arriving in Aubervilliers, he parked the truck, with my beauty, on a main but quiet road, and a dark person jumps up and sets to work changing the main radiator hose. The mechanic had a very rough appearance.
I was still exceedingly happy in the certainty that this was one of the best decisions of my life. Indeed, leaping from the baby classics—the refined and high-spirited Italian four cylinders (i.e., Coupe Bertone, Fulvia, Duetto…), with their generous all-giving hearts to a serious classic, so understated, with her subtle, exceedingly elegant lines, and incredible engine.
The mechanic suggested keeping the car to check if the fan kicked in properly and temperatures remained steady. Of course I agreed. And the next day, they brought her around. As it were, I had to leave that very morning for the South. Of course there were incidents, leaking petrol, windows didn’t work at all (no connections under the pretty switches), and the back of the seat gave way at 120 km/h. I placed my suitcase behind the seatback. It definitely was very, very hot car as it was July heading South to the Mediterranean.
Still, I never, ever had a flicker of a doubt. For those of you who have seen/heard a Fiat Dino in the flesh, I suspect you understand. One of the great pleasures in owning such a car is the immense joy it gives to so many others. We can all enjoy looking at a beautiful old building, an old bridge, but we can all see and hear a Dino and its sonorous, evocative Ferrari V6 sound.
I love this car very, very much because of the perfect balance, incredible harmony and purity of her lines, and impressive, majestic proportions. Yes, I believe some bond, on many levels, with their cherished classics. There is also an awareness that many artisans were responsible for crafting her.
They sought to give pleasure to the senses—the eyes and ears. My cars are all a little tired but very well cared for mechanically, no compromise here, for the car’s sake. But they are not restored because it is very special and precious to feel and see the signs left by previous owners. These are testimonies of emotions felt by previous owners.
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