Now that I have one child driving and another one about to start, I’ve had several occasions to think back to how I learned to drive. It’s a bit different than most of my friends, because you see, I learned to drive in Italy!
My dad had a teeny tiny car, a 1979 Fiat 126, black. It was stick shift. It had no power steering, no power windows. In fact, in order to crank it, you had to pull a little lever, the choke, down on the floor board, near the hand brake! Sicily is quite mountainous, especially where we lived, on the side of Mt. Etna. Before we were allowed to drive alone, we had to demonstrate to dad that we were capable of starting and stopping on the steep incline that was our driveway, without rolling back at ALL! Ahhh, the memories!
Dad just bought my mom that same car, a 1988 model, white! Here are a few pictures in case you’ve never seen one (they don’t have them in the US).
Oh,you don’t get a sense of how small it is?
How about with another car in the background? (That’s a SEAT station wagon, pronounced Say-aht)
Here’s one with mom standing next to it.
And one with dad, so you get the scale.
This is the back seat. Can you believe we used to drive an hour to the beach with me and my brother in this back seat AND all our beach stuff packed up? Where, you say? In the trunk!
But wait! That’s the hood! That’s right folks! The hood was the trunk. We also had a luggage rack on top where we’d pile our beach stuff. And I mean PILE! (No photo of that unfortunately).
So what’s in the back you ask?
Why, the engine of course!
And here’s a shot of the hand brake and choke lever. You had to raise the choke before you turned the key. Then you’d put the lever down. Kinda like starting a lawn mower. That’s nothing. The old 500s had two levers: one was the choke, the other was the starter!
Dad bought this car for mom to use around town, kinda like a scooter with walls and a roof! She says she feels like she’s driving a Flintstones’ car! I know what she means!