13 May 2014

Your Cars: Andrew DeSantis’ 1973 Fiat 124 CS Spider

Andrew DeSantis’ affection for Fiat sports cars began in 1963 as he was about to graduate from a Philadelphia engineering school. In the market for a new car, he stopped by a local dealership, and it was love at first sight. But Andrew’s parents didn’t exactly share their son’s enthusiasm for an “impractical” two-seater. “If Dad sits in the front and you drive,” his mother said, “where will I sit?” Game over. But Andrew’s dream lived on, and five decades later, he finally got a little red Fiat sports car, a 1973 124 CS Spider.

Clifton Park, N.Y.

Vehicle: 1973 Fiat 124 CS Spider

What’s the story behind this car? I started looking when I was finally able to afford a third car in the family. I saw this one – in No. 1 condition, zero rust, only 40,000 original miles, and it had been repainted on its 20th birthday. It had all the paperwork – all maintenance records (38 years through the original dealer) and the original window sticker, sales contract, bank note, original Fiat manuals and sales brochures.

I purchased it sight unseen from the second owner. The car was in Florida, but I had my cousin go and take a look at it. After he took a test drive, he called to give me the scoop. He said, “Looks great, runs well, no rust whatsoever.” I said, “If a new car’s paint is a 10, how would you rate this one?” He said, “Oh, Andy … a nine.” I said, “Looks like I’m going to buy a car today.”

I had it shipped home and it arrived on Easter Sunday. The driver rolled it out of the truck, and there it was – with a flat tire. But I had my little red sports car.

Repairs and Modifications (planned or completed): I’ve gone through all the mechanical stuff, keep up the maintenance and detailing. I replaced the original driver’s side exterior mirror with an aftermarket one, and for safety reasons I also added a mirror on the passenger side. No, they aren’t original, but they can easily be removed without any damage to the body.

Hobby activities: I’ve always liked to work on cars and maintain them as my father did. He taught me everything I know about cars while I was growing up. My newest hobby is participating in local car shows. The Fiat has won four trophies. People are amazed that a 41-year-old car looks so good. I’m looking forward to more car shows this year, meeting more car enthusiasts and making new friends.

Best Moments/Favorite Drives: My most memorable moment was when my wife, Carolyn, and I took the car out for our first joy ride. That brought back joyful memories of when we were first dating. (She doesn’t drive a stick. I have four grown children – three daughters and a son – and none of them drive a stick.) I also enjoy driving under the George Washington Bridge on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.

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