The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
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My Dinner With A Fiat/Chrysler Engineer

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While out in Vegas to review the Fiat 500 Abarth, one exciting moment was that they had captive drivetrain engineers there to answer questions and explain things. So, one night at dinner, thanks to a cunning arrangement of tables as obstacles and excellent seafood buffet access, I was able to corner one and make him talk to me. He agreed, but asked, as he squeezed my upper arm really hard, to remain anonymous. I agreed. Here's what was said:

ME: I'm a bit perverse, in that I'd love to have a 500 with the two-cylinder engine. Is there any chance the Twin Air will make it to the U.S.? Even if we recruit Harley guys to get everyone used to the idea of two cylinders as something tough and cool?


HIM: No. The Twin Air, especially the turbo, is a great engine and makes good power, but no Americans are going to drive a two-cylinder. It makes a sound that most Americans just aren't used to, and the EPA mileage tests aren't really geared towards small-displacement engines. This is like the third time you've asked me this.

ME: But, what if your ads really pushed the motorcycle angle, and–


HIM: No. Let go of my arm. Look, I really better ru–

ME: Wait, wait. Well, what about this — what if you sold the Twin Air as a crate engine? Small, good power, cheap — it could start a resurgence in kit cars and home-built specials!

HIM: Uh, Fiat's not really interested in that market. GM or whoever can have the crate engine business for now. Oh, that's my phone, I better take this. Hello?


ME: That's your wallet. I have your phone here, under this napkin. I took it out of your jacket. That reminds me, someone named Colleen texted you something weird. Who's Colleen?

HIM: Jeezis. (Rubs temples with his fingers.) Look, I really need to–

ME: Woah woah woah. Just listen. What about this — this would be amazing. If Americans won't drive a two-cylinder car, what about a 500 with two Twin Air engines — one in front, one laid sideways under the floor in the back! Like a Citroën 2CV Sahara! Four cylinders over two engines, combined 170 hp, four-wheel dr —


HIM: (Stabs me in neck with a cocktail fork; climbs over table and bolts to door)


I hope everyone found this chat as enlightening as I did. Thanks, anonymous engineer! Where should I send your phone?