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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Driving on the Right Side of the Brain

Oscar Foulkes July 21, 2010 Uncategorized No comments

In the light of my previous life as a wine retailer, it is not surprising that I should have found my way to ecommerce. By the end of July I’ll be running four different online stores (only one selling wine, though). Clearly, this sales channel is somewhat different to bricks and mortar retail, but the objectives remain the same.

One of the obvious differences is the absence of face-to-face contact with customers. Some online customers one gets to know as a result of email exchanges, but it’s not the same as having a chat on the shop floor.

One of my old wine shop customers, William Simpson, has a Nissan, Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealership. Over the years I’ve been party to the purchase of more than half a dozen vehicles from him, one of which I dropped off for a service a couple of months ago.

While there, I got chatting to him on his shop floor, which had a Fiat 500c in pole position. I’m no petrol head (all I know about torque is that it sounds the same as talk), but the aesthetique in me loves the retro styling of this vehicle. Picking up on my love of the design, William offered to let me have one for a few days. As luck would have it, my custody of this piece of metallic deliciousness coincided with one of those wonderful weeks of sunny Cape Town winter’s days.

I drove it with the top down, even on mornings that were extra chilly due to the absence of overnight cloud cover, and loved every moment of it. OK, so parking on pavements isn’t an option – as it is with SUVs – but something this small squeezes into the tiniest of gaps.

Despite its size I never felt squashed into the driver’s seat, and even tested the back seat to see if it could accommodate all six foot of me. I wouldn’t want to do a long trip in this position, but I did fit.

I joked, to a horrified-looking psychotherapist, that the Fiat 500c could put him out of business; the feel-good factor is that huge. How can one not be in good spirits driving a vehicle that looks as good as this, and is as much fun to drive?

The feel-good factor also has a way of boomeranging. Within 15 minutes of me hitting the city centre, William received an email asking who the “cool dude” was driving the car (apologies for the forty-something vanity).

When the 500 was launched, Fiat had rather serious aspirations as far as price was concerned. They’ve subsequently trimmed the price to a level that looks like pretty good value. William is selling the hard-top 1.2 for R135 000, and the cabriolet for R197 000 (that would make quite an interesting online shopping cart for one’s credit card to digest!)

The fact that I could fit into the car, as well as its low fuel consumption and small footprint on the road, all satisfy left brain requirements. Its stylish design and sense of fun do a great job of delighting the right side of the brain.

The boot has enough space for a limited amount of shopping, but larger scale purchases may necessitate some online shopping. Enough of that at, (and others in development) will see me in my own Fiat 500c.

Mmm, I wonder what colour I’d choose?

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