In 1979, Danny O’Donnell acquired his initial Fiat 124, a 1973 product he saw sitting down on the facet of the road with a For Sale indication in the windshield. “The vehicle did not operate, it was variety of banged up, it experienced a gazillion miles, and the interior was a tiny ratty,” he suggests. At the time, O’Donnell worked at an car components retail store in Connecticut that experienced a equipment shop, and he rebuilt the motor there. He then purchased a next sections car or truck for its thoroughly clean interior and a third for its convertible best. With one particular reliable driver and two partially stripped kinds, he did what any clever autophile would do: started providing components from the components automobiles.
It didn’t acquire O’Donnell lengthy to rid himself of his stock. “Back in the working day, when you went to Fiat to purchase a thing, if it was not oil filters or air filters, it took a minimal of 30 days or 60 days to ship,” he says. “Persons were obtaining areas from me still left and appropriate.” He acquired a several much more sections cars and trucks and parted people out, repeating the process for 8 several years before lastly likely all in. “In 1986, I experienced a probability to go to California to invest in out a dealer’s provide,” he states. “I shipped 51 skids of Fiat pieces again and explained, I guess I’m in the Fiat components business now.” He got a indicator and a retail license in Might 1987.
O’Donnell has considering that acquired out dozens of failed Fiat sellers and fix stores. At his shop, Enjoyable Imported Car and Toys in Vernon, Connecticut, he maintains 1 of the largest stockpiles of vintage new-outdated-inventory Fiat Spider components in the United States. “I applied to tell people that we could lock the door in this article for a 7 days and make a model-new Spider, with all the sheetmetal, motor bits, and inside,” he suggests.
O’Donnell doesn’t accurately have to have a new Spider. In the four a long time considering that his first Fiat obtain, he estimates that he has owned “close to 400” Fiats, many of them 124s, but a smattering of others as perfectly, like some rarities. He now has 76 vehicles in his selection, a hoard that contains a trio of 1966 Impala Tremendous Activity convertibles he is had considering that the ’70s, but he is mostly focused on Italian iron (or alloy). “I have a 1958 Multipla,” he reported. “I have a Fiat Moretti Sportiva. I have a Double Bubble 1958 750 Zagato. I have 3 1983 Pininfarina Spiders from when Pininfarina took more than production of those cars and trucks. I have 4 1985-½ Pininfarina Spiders, which are seriously scarce, last-calendar year current cars and trucks. I have a 1959 U.S.-spec 500, just one of a several that ended up imported here with the large ‘bug eye’ headlights and more substantial bumpers. And I have a several Abarths from the ’50s.” He mentions a Maserati manufacturing facility prototype and a Lancia Scorpion from the manufacturing unit race group.
I satisfied O’Donnell for the reason that my beloved 1979 Spider essential its transmission rebuilt. I fell in really like with that motor vehicle as a child, and bought a person drunk on a trip household from China as an grownup. I finished up checking out O’Donnell’s shop, obtaining quite a few hundred dollars’ worth of other sections for my mechanic to put in, and wandering via the towering cabinets of gaskets, gauges, seatbelts, steering wheels, bezels, bushings, mirrors, and miscellany. I requested whether these stacks have been arranged in accordance to some obscure method to which only O’Donnell realized the crucial. He laughed. “It’s all in Fiat component inventory numerical buy.”
A shop and assortment like this, a one-male procedure, a labor of love for a beloved marque and make, raises the query of succession. O’Donnell isn’t married and has no youngsters. But he has a approach of types. “I’m guessing it is likely to go by the wayside soon after me,” he claims. “But I have an settlement with the big male. I’m going to operate every single day, and then a person working day I am just heading to die. And when I die—I previously talked to him—he’s got a convertible up there for me, and I get to push.”
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