Ryan’s Italian Job: Fiat Strada & Lancia Beta Spider
I was recently contacted by a chap from the States who felt encouraged to email PetrolBlog having read this earlier piece on the Fiat Strada. Turns out that the chap, a Mr Ryan Kooken, has a rather brilliant taste in motor cars. Not only does he own a Fiat Strada himself, but he also has a delightful Lancia Beta Spider. So that’s two Italian cars from the 1980s. Mr Kooken, PetrolBlog salutes you sir.
This ultra-rare fuel injected Strada has quite a back story. Ryan originally bought it in 2004 from a guy in Rhode Island who had originally shipped it in from California. Given the Strada’s reputation for rusting, you’d have thought that a Californian sourced Strada is going to be a slightly better prospect than one from Whitstable or Hastings.
Ryan believes that his Strada was originally a dealer car, saying that “this car was a dealer rep’s car, given to him by Fiat when they left the US. I guess they told the reps they could have any car they wanted, as long as it was a Strada! The rep hurried down to the docks to pick up his car personally. He also specified that the car had the optional Strada alloy wheels with no sunroof or air con“. An inspired choice and somewhat of a historic car, given the firm’s 27 year absence from the States. It’s the 500 that’s marked the return, but give me a Strada any day.
This particular Strada is said to be ‘rust-free’, two words that you don’t often hear in the same sentence as the car. It’s used daily and, according to Ryan, a marked improvement in quality over the Yugos that he owned previously. Not bad for $2,000. I’d go as far as saying that Ryan’s Strada is unique, being rust-free and praised for its build quality!
In the seven years that Ryan has owned it, the mileage has risen from 65k to 117k. It never fails to start and, thanks to a 5th gear, manages to return 35-40mpg. Could this be a prime contender for Bangernomics, US style?!
I have to say I love the car and with Ryan saying he’s treating the car to an ‘Abarth-style makeover’, complete with wheel arch flares and rear spoiler, I’ll be sure to keep an eye on progress. Oh and I absolutely love the rear plate!
But of course, Ryan isn’t content with just one Italian legend. He also owns a delightful Lancia Beta Spider. He purchased it back in 1999 for the princely sum of $1,500. At the time it was looking rather sorry for itself, but following some hard work, Ryan coaxed it back into life. For many years it was used as a daily driver with Ryan putting on a huge 80k miles in the process. But with the mileage now at 141k, the Lanica has been treated to a well earned semi-retirement and is now registered as an antique.
Given the choice of two ’80s Italian classics, I’d struggle to know which one to drive.