Over the last 60 years, David Franklin has covered over 600,000 miles behind the wheel of a Fiat.
According to J.D. Power's 2021 Automotive Brand Loyalty study, Subaru owners are the most devoted among mass market brands. Toyota ranked second, followed by Honda, Ram, and Ford. Each year, J.D. Power investigates whether owners remain faithful to their loyal brand or if they've moved on to something else. The 2022 study will be published on 27 September if you're wondering why we chose last year's study to set the scene for one of the most brand-loyal motorists we've ever come across.
Fiat did not partake in the study, but it would have scored top marks based on David Franklin's vehicle ownership history. Franklin is 84 years old, and he has just taken delivery of a brand-new Red Edition Fiat 500 EV. Remarkably, this is Franklin's 55th Fiat since he purchased his first one in 1963. That's some properly patriotic automotive enthusiasm.
David chose his first Fiat because he worked for the company. He joined the brand in 1962 as a Progress Chaser at the UK's first concessionaire. He then purchased a first-generation Fiat 500D for $465. That's the equivalent of roughly $6,700 in today's money. Fiat showcased the all-new 500e at the New York Motor Show, but we haven't heard much since. But just for reference, the previous-generation 500 EV retailed for about $33,000. For the Italian marque that has often struggled in the United States, the only model still on sale at the moment is the 500X.
Franklin spent 12 years of his life working for Fiat, going from car tester all the way to operations manager for the Fiat 130, which served as the brand's flagship from 1969 to 1977.
Franklin also used to be an avid off-road racer. Between 1963 and 1967, David entered 31 events, placing first, fourteen times; second, nine times; and third once. He wasn't perturbed about the car he used and settled for whatever car he had in the garage at the time, as long as it was a Fiat. He raced a 500, 500 Abarth, 1500, 850, 850 Coupe, and 850 Idromatic.
Franklin left Fiat in 1974 to work for the family business, but his love for Fiat didn't fade. "Fiat never let me down, so I didn't let them down," said Franklin. According to Franklin, he's covered roughly 600,000 miles behind the wheel of a Fiat product. He rates his top three Fiats as the New 500 in third place, the 850 Coupe in second, and the Fiat Multipla in first place. Finally, somebody who agrees with us. The Multipla was mortifying to look at, but the rest of the car was superb.
Franklin's latest car is the all-new 500 EV, proving that even an 84-year-old can change his mind about internal combustion. "The electric 500 is like all Fiats, great fun to drive. It's very quiet, handles incredibly well, and is very quick off the mark - sometimes my glasses end up on the back seat," said Franklin. "I am sold on the idea of electric cars now."
Since 1962, he's owned 55 Fiats spanning 32 different models. The complete list, in order, is: 500, 127, 850, Uno, Uno Turbo, Croma, Multipla, Panda, Lancia Thema Turbo, 1300, 1500, 128, 850S, 850 Idroconvert, 850 Coupe, 124 Estate, 131 (2 door), 131 (4 door), 132 Argenta, 2300 Estate, Hot Uno 55S, 600, Marea, Tipo 16 Valve, Coupe Turbo 5 Cylinder, Lancia Dedra Turbo, Bravo, Coupe. 5 cylinder, Punto, 500X, 500X Sport, and 500 Electric (RED) Edition.