Fun Imported Auto and Toys Spells FIAT


In 1979, Danny O’Donnell purchased his first Fiat 124, a 1973 mannequin he noticed sitting on the facet of the highway with a For Sale signal within the windshield. “The automobile didn’t run, it was sort of banged up, it had a gazillion miles, and the inside was a little bit ratty,” he says. At the time, O’Donnell labored at an auto components retailer in Connecticut that had a machine store, and he rebuilt the motor there. He then purchased a second components automobile for its clear inside and a 3rd for its convertible high. With one stable driver and two partially stripped ones, he did what any clever autophile would do: began promoting components from the components vehicles.

It didn’t take O’Donnell lengthy to rid himself of his inventory. “Back within the day, whenever you went to Fiat to order one thing, if it wasn’t oil filters or air filters, it took a minimal of 30 days or 60 days to ship,” he says. “People have been shopping for components from me left and proper.” He purchased a number of extra components vehicles and parted these out, repeating the method for eight years earlier than lastly going all in. “In 1986, I had an opportunity to go to California to purchase out a seller’s provide,” he says. “I shipped 51 skids of Fiat components again and stated, I assume I’m within the Fiat components enterprise now.” He bought an indication and a retail license in May 1987.

O’Donnell has since purchased out dozens of failed Fiat sellers and restore retailers. At his store, Fun Imported Auto and Toys in Vernon, Connecticut, he maintains one of many largest stockpiles of classic new-old-stock Fiat Spider components within the United States. “I used to inform those who we might lock the door right here for every week and construct a brand-new Spider, with all of the sheetmetal, engine bits, and inside,” he says.

O’Donnell does not precisely want a brand new Spider. In the 4 many years since his first Fiat buy, he estimates that he has owned “round 400” Fiats, lots of them 124s, however a smattering of others as nicely, together with some rarities. He at present has 76 vehicles in his assortment, a hoard that features a trio of 1966 Impala Super Sport convertibles he is had for the reason that ’70s, however he is primarily centered on Italian iron (or alloy). “I’ve a 1958 Multipla,” he stated. “I’ve a Fiat Moretti Sportiva. I’ve a Double Bubble 1958 750 Zagato. I’ve three 1983 Pininfarina Spiders from when Pininfarina took over manufacturing of these vehicles. I’ve 4 1985-½ Pininfarina Spiders, that are actually uncommon, final-year up to date vehicles. I’ve a 1959 U.S.-spec 500, one of some that have been imported right here with the large ‘bug eye’ headlights and larger bumpers. And I’ve a number of Abarths from the ’50s.” He mentions a Maserati manufacturing facility prototype and a Lancia Scorpion from the manufacturing facility race crew.

I met O’Donnell as a result of my beloved 1979 Spider wanted its transmission rebuilt. I fell in love with that automobile as a child, and acquired one drunk on a visit dwelling from China as an grownup. I ended up visiting O’Donnell’s store, shopping for many hundred {dollars}’ price of different components for my mechanic to put in, and wandering by the towering cabinets of gaskets, gauges, seatbelts, steering wheels, bezels, bushings, mirrors, and miscellany. I requested whether or not these stacks have been organized in line with some obscure system to which solely O’Donnell knew the important thing. He laughed. “It’s all in Fiat half inventory numerical order.”

A store and assortment like this, a one-man operation, a labor of affection for a beloved marque and make, raises the query of succession. O’Donnell isn’t married and has no youngsters. But he has a plan of kinds. “I’m guessing it’ll go by the wayside after me,” he says. “But I’ve an settlement with the large man. I’m going to work day-after-day, after which sooner or later I’m simply going to die. And after I die—I already talked to him—he is bought a convertible up there for me, and I get to drive.”

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Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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