Fiat & VW
I was most interested to read your comments in a recent issue of your journal, on the Fiat 1500 model.
A year ago I returned from overseas and we were faced with buying a new small car; at time of our return we were running a 1962 Mercedes 220 but the tax demands of the Imperial government precluded our bringing it with us so, after examining (and hiring when possible) examples of most current cars we decided on a Fiat 1500. May I say that of all the twenty-odd cars I have owned no car has given better service in its first year of life.
Two visits were made under the free service vouchers to the Fiat service department at Wembley but apart from this, absolutely no service has been required. Not a single nut or bolt has worked loose or any component failed. The performance is all that is claimed of it and only as recently as yesterday my wife and I completed a trip to West Wales and the 596 miles consumed exactly 16 7/8 gallons. Oil consumption is perceptible, averaging about 2,500 m.p.g., but my sump is cleared every 1,800 miles.
Unlike your own findings and those of other motoring correspondents we have not experienced sliding at the rear end (except my wife, on one occasion) but we keep our tyre pressures at 23 and 26/7 respectively. As you say, on right hand drive models the hand brake is a little inconvenient, but it is a real brake and not a brolly handle.
At present we also have a 1959 Volkswagen that my son ran for 30,000 miles in eastern Canada through three winters but it was still performing so well that he decided to bring it back to England at the end of his tour of duty; apart from new front wheel bearings that were necessitated through the original ones freezing solid at 40° of frost, no other spares have been required; apart of course from a new exhaust system at 20,000 miles. The VW has now covered 36,000.
Experiences with British cars that are so often detailed in your columns clearly show, as a recent correspondent stated, the lack of interest that so many British workers have in the products they assemble and which are so vital to a country's economy: but then proof of this is shown when operatives will stop work because Charlie did not have enough sugar in his tea.
Further to this my experience in many countries overseas has shown me how so many manufacturers fall down on after sales service; the wallet of information provided by Mercedes with the 220 was exemplary whilst the Fiat workshop manual and illustrated spare parts lists, complete with prices, give reassurance to an owner. I would add that prior to buying the 1500 I had never even ridden in a Fiat and I have no connection with the motor trade although I have participated in many sporting events. In conclusion may I thank you for the many happy hours your publication has provided to my family when we were thousands of miles from home.