Mike van Leeuwen solemnly promised the widow Violetti that he would take care of the 'baby' for the next fifty years. "Then her tears ran even faster and she gave me a big hug." Touching, that typical Italian sentiment as a memory of a rich family life. Now the Fiat 850 Familiare can make a new generation happy.
Text & photography: Aart van der Haagen
If he keeps his word, Mike van Leeuwen (26) is at least up to his 75th birthdaye attached to the cuddly passenger van from 1969. “A nice prospect, right? I really don't see it happening that I will give it up one day. ” Apparently neither is Pier Giorgio Violetti. Because he remained faithful to his MPV avant la lettre until death literally separated them. After that, the widow apparently couldn't get it to monetize father's pride. "She didn't drive it herself and I don't think the children were interested in it, so the Fiat 850 Familiare had been unused in the garage for ten years," says Van Leeuwen. Together with his father, he threw himself into the adventure mid-last year to buy his very first classic car. And then immediately at about 1500 kilometers from home.
Classic Fiat orders are not for the taking. After a year and a half of fruitless searching on Marktplaats, Mike van Leeuwen lost heart. Until he bravely ventured on the Italian equivalent Subito.it and a world opened up for him. “By coincidence I came across the Fiat 850 Familiare, the earlier model series in a luxury passenger version. The list of candidates narrowed to three. And the young enthusiast had an Italian family member contact a provider in Viterbo. “I was sent sixty photos via WhatsApp and later also a video, which showed that this Fiat 850 Familiare was driving and braking in any case, despite ten years of standstill.” Father and son went by car and trailer to the Italian city with its medieval atmosphere, about a hundred kilometers above Rome.
On site, the Fiat 850 Familiare from 1969 appeared in a grandiose, unrestored condition. “There was a grim atmosphere,” Mike van Leeuwen describes. “We felt a certain tension. Until my father was asked about his plans by car. When he told me that I would buy the Familiare and that he already owned two classic Fiats himself, the ice was broken. ” After the purchase and the transfer 'la nonna' did not keep it dry. “Certainly not when I said, 'You took good care of it for the first fifty years. I will treat the car like a baby for the next fifty years. " She hugged me in tears. " Keeping at least fifty years of faithfulness to the family-friendly seven-seater seems to Mike van Leeuwen not at all a task. “I only use it hobbyistically; that's how I want to camp with it this summer. ” Doesn't that fit perfectly with the family idea?