When we came up with the idea of doing a (mostly) daily Autopian Drive-In post, my thinking was that these could act as sort of automotive inspiration posts. The current state of the world is, let’s be honest here, pretty shitty, and sometimes just to keep going you need a little injection from Vitamin Little Cars Going Batshit. Maybe also zinc. And boy do I have a potent tincture for you today! These are all from a series of ads Fiat did in the 1970s with French stuntman and rallycross/motocross champion Rémy Julienne. He worked on the Italian Job, and the planned the now-legendary Mini chase through Turin and on the Fiat rooftop test track.
What made Rémy Julienne’s work so special was that he had a real knack for wringing some extraordinary things out of ordinary cars. You know that famous car chase in the Bond movie For Your Eyes Only with the Citroën 2CV? That was one of his, and he got a hell of a lot out of a very unlikely car. Hell, let’s watch it, why not, this is the Drive-In, after all, and what are you doing? Working? Pfft.
Man, they loved rolling that little Deux Cheveaux. I think I read for this they put the flat-four from the GS in there, so it was extra quick. Or maybe extra less-slow.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Fiat had some manner of contract with Julienne, and that collaboration produced these amazing, seemingly long-form commercials for Fiats like the 127, 126, and 124, the point of all the commercials seeming to be that if you’re looking for a new car that you want to do some absolutely batshit things with, things that will likely beat the absolute pickles out of every bit of your car, then you should consider a Fiat!
Check out this ad for the 127, a very basic but charming little FWD econobox that was said to handle pretty well for a car of its class:
Holy crap, right? These little cars were a very rational design (80% of the space was available for people and stuff, which is some tight packaging) so it’s especially fun to see one doing very irrational things, like driving over that car-hauling railcar.
For Fiat’s more upmarket 124 family sedan, we see Julienne in a more cinematic context, like a chase scene from some ’70s European spy thriller that never actually happened, but involved a lot of jumping onto ferries:
The wagon hauling ass down those stairs is glorious, and the near-miss with the truck, with just inches – sorry, centimeters to spare between the 124 and that truck showcases a real master at work. Dude’s a motherbuttering surgeon with that Fiat.
This last ad has clips of the other two, but also adds some great hoonage in one of my favorite Fiats, the tiny rear-engined 126:
We get more car on stairs action, too! If I was looking for a cheap little car in 1970s Europe, these would definitely have sold me, because why wouldn’t I want to drive my new tiny car down every staircase I could find?
Anyway, I hope these inspire you, with their incredible results from humble hardware. If this guy can squeeze those kind of feats out of a little tinny Fiat, imagine what you can do! Be Rémy Julienne, and make your life’s challenges those Fiats! I believe in you!