I first saw XCD 690K, a down-at-heel white Fiat 500L with a flat tyre, one grey February day in 1985, sitting among other cheap run-arounds for sale at a local garage. That first glimpse was to be the beginning of a very special relationship.
Illness and self-employment don’t go well together. In the 1980’s, I’d had a long spell unable to work and was looking for an inexpensive form of transport. Paying the mortgage was more than the usual struggle, the family car had been sold and riding a motorbike in winter was unthinkable.
Two days later, after a bit of patching up, a new MoT and the expenditure of £180, I was initiated into the world of compact motoring. On the way home I more-or-less mastered the crash gearbox and, in time, came to understand the technique of driving a 499.5cc Fiat 500, employed by generations of Italians – that you keep the accelerator flat on the floor until death stares you in the face!
Over the next 20,000 miles and four years, XCD 690K was my sole transport, in and out of London, round the M25 and on the school run along the narrow, sunken lanes of the Surrey Hills. My daughter, now a sober adult with a family of her own, loved the little car. She named it ‘Tot’ and even started the ‘Tot Supporters Club’ with her friends.
Eventually, my health long restored, the Fiat and I parted company as roomier transport was needed for a family of teenagers. But, in the quarter of a century since, I’ve never forgotten the fun and adventure of 500 motoring.
Recently, a chance conversation with the DVLA revealed that XCD 690K still exists, but where? Apparently the car is not taxed or insured. Does anyone know of its whereabouts at present? I would love the chance to see my little friend again.