The FIAT 500 has been popping up everywhere lately, and it’s turning heads wherever it goes. As agile and sexy as it is economical and eco-friendly, it may be the perfect city car. And it has that inimitable sense of style that every Italian possesses and every American craves.
“You can buy something cheap and small for $16,000, or you can buy something that has Italian heritage and style,” says Carmelo Scalzo, vice president of FIAT of Chicago. “With the FIAT 500, you get the best of all worlds. It’s affordable, it’s great on gas and it has that special Italian flair.”
Nobody in the metropolitan area knows FIAT like Carmelo and his father, company President Antonio Scalzo. Antonio serviced FIATs and Alfa Romeos as a teen in Italy, and he ran the most successful FIAT/Alfa Romeo dealerships in the nation from 1989 until the company withdrew the two lines from the U.S. market in the early ’90s. Carmelo spent his formative years at his dad’s dealership. “I guess you could say we have FIAT in our blood,” he says.
The father-and-son team has been running Volvo of Oak Park since 1995, elevating it to No. 1 in several key categories. When Fiat decided to re-enter the market in 2011, they were among the first in line to sign up for a dealership.
“Because FIAT bought Chrysler, Chrysler dealers were the first to be offered franchises,” Carmelo explains. “But we approached them from the very beginning, they saw our history with the brand and knew we’d be committed once again to the brand’s success in the U.S. Now, we’re one of the few stand-alone FIAT dealerships in the country.”
The doors to FIAT of Chicago opened last July, and the dealership has been skyrocketing up the charts ever since. With one of the largest inventories in the United States, they recently emerged as the No. 1 Fiat dealership in the Midwest. The location of the dealership has been key to its meteoric rise. “We’re right on Randolph Street off the Kennedy Expressway, on the edge of the Loop,” Carmelo points out.
Don’t let the similarity of the cars in FIAT of Chicago’s sleek, modern showroom fool you. The options are endless.
The entry level FIAT 500 Pop starts at $16,000, gets 40 miles per gallon, and comes standard with air conditioning, power windows, seven air bags and an adaptive brake system. The 500 Sport boasts sports suspension, steering and seats; a premium sound system; and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels. The Lounge comes with Sirius radio, automatic temperature control, fog lamps and a fixed-glass roof. And the Turbo has a host of sports features, high-performance brakes and a 135-horsepower twin turbo engine.
The top-of-the-line Abarth is equipped with a 160-horsepower engine with a turbo boost gauge, electronic stability control, an MP3 player and hands-free Bluetooth, high-performance bucket seats, dual exhaust and bi-halogen headlights. To top it off, a full day of training with a professional driver comes with every Abarth purchase.
All models except the Abarth come in manual or automatic, with options that include a leather interior, sunroof and cabriolet convertible top. Customer rebates of up to $2,500 and zero percent financing for up to 60 months are available, and you even receive a $25 Visa gift card when you COME IN FOR A test drive.
When Carmelo looks to the horizon, he sees nothing but blue skies. “The FIAT 500L (a four-door that’s 42 percent bigger than the 500) will be arriving this summer, and the all-electric 500e, which gets 108 miles per gallon, is due later in the year,” he says. “And FIAT has told us that they will be reintroducing Alfa Romeo to the U.S. market by the end of the year. We can’t wait!”
Alfa Romeo & FIAT of Chicago
645 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60661