An 84-year-old car enthusiast has taken delivery of his 55th Fiat, making him quite possibly the world’s most loyal car owner.
David Franklin, from Buckinghamshire, began his lifelong love affair with the brand in 1963, when he purchased his first Fiat, a red, rear engine 500D with forward opening doors.
His latest delivery is the New 500 (RED) Edition, his and Fiat’s first electric model.
Career with Fiat
David’s relationship with Fiat started in 1962, having joined the marque as a Progress Chaser at Fiat’s first ever UK based concessionaire in Wembley. Within the year, David went onto buy his first-ever Fiat, the iconic first-generation Fiat 500D, setting Franklin back £399 (£5,800 in today’s money).
Spending 12 years with the brand, progressing through the ranks as a Car Tester, Technical Representative and Technical Office Manager, David’s career highlight with the brand was holding the role as Operations Manager for the Fiat 130 – the brands, then, flagship saloon, boasting a V6 3200 cc engine.
Racing with Fiat
During his time with the Italian marque, David was also a budding race car driver, competing in off-road production car trials across the country. Between 1963 and 1967, David entered 31 events, placing first, fourteen times, second, nine times and third, once.
The car at the centre of it all? Whatever Fiat happened to be on his driveway at the time. This ranged from a Fiat 500, Fiat 500 Abarth, Fiat 1500, Fiat 850, Fiat 850 Coupe and Fiat 850 Idromatic.
Meeting the love of his life, Michela
Above all his achievements and fond memories of racing during his 12 years at Fiat, none stands taller than meeting the love of his life, Michela.
Michela, born in Milan, Italy, moved over to the UK in 1964 where she went onto work for Fiat, having been more than familiar with the Italian carmaker, giving David “another reason to love Fiat”.
Within two years, David and Michela got married in September 1966 in the idyllic rural village of Bellagio overlooking Lake Como. A Fiat 2300 Estate carried both David and Michela, as well as David’s parents, over to Italy from the UK for their wedding day and acted as their wedding car. The 1960’s Estate, famous for being the first Fiat to offer an automatic transmission, didn’t let them down.
Remaining loyal to Fiat
While David moved on to work for the family business with his brother in 1974, his loyalty to Fiat remained, ensuring that a Fiat was always in the garage.
David said: “Fiat never let me down, so I didn’t let them down”.
David estimates that he’s covered a staggering 600,000 miles behind the wheel of a Fiat.
He added: “Having driven Fiat’s consistently for nearly 60 years, it is very hard to say just how many miles both myself and my family have covered in a Fiat. However, up until Covid, myself and Michela would drive to Italy at least once every year, sometimes twice when the kids were younger.”
“That’s before you take into account all the miles I’d have travelled for business and competing in motoring competitions!”
David’s New 500
As of February 2022, proudly sat on the front drive, is David’s New 500 (RED) Edition. While, reminiscent of the chic and ground-breaking Fiat 500 he owned back in 1963, the latest addition is his most significant purchase yet, with the car being the first fully-electric vehicle he has ever owned.
On his experience of owning an electric car David said: “The electric 500 is like all Fiats, great fun to drive. It’s very quiet, handles incredibly well and is very quick off the mark – sometimes my glasses end up on the back seat!
“I am sold on the idea of electric cars now.”
David’s Top Three Fiats
When ranking his favourite Fiat’s, David praised the usability of the Fiat Multipla, versatility of the 850 Coupe which saw him scoop two, first place positions in his competition days and the fun performance of the New 500.
- Fiat Multipla
- Fiat 850 Coupe
- Fiat New 500
List of Fiat’s (by model) owned by David
David has owned a staggering 55 Fiat’s since 1962, seeing him get behind the wheel of 32 different Fiat models, having owned multiple models of his favourite Fiats, the Multipla, 850 and 500.
Lancia Thema Turbo
131 (2 door)
131 (4 door)
Hot Uno 55S
Tipo 16 Valve
Coupe Turbo 5 Cylinder
Lancia Dedra Turbo
Coupe. 5 cylinder
500 Electric (RED) Edition
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