Home » Someone Found An Old Video Of Me At A Fiat Press Event With A Supermodel And It Was Kinda Weird, In Hindsight

Someone Found An Old Video Of Me At A Fiat Press Event With A Supermodel And It Was Kinda Weird, In Hindsight

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Over in the Autopian Discord server, a hopping place full of scintillating conversation, important information, and sexy, wild flirting, an Autopian named theotherotter stumbled upon a dozen-year-old video of the 2012 press event for the Fiat 500 Abarth. This event has significance to me because it was the very first press event I was sent on as a baby autojourno back at the old site! What a magical, exciting time that was! I wasn’t used to the excesses of automaker press events back then, I wasn’t some jaded lout, dulled to the simple, honest joys of a large multinational buying you steak and booze; back then it was all fresh and new. That same press event also featured a guest star, of sorts, Romanian model Catrinel Menghia (who is now Catrinel Marlon) who was in Fiat’s 2012 Super Bowl commercial for the 500 Abarth. It was sort of weird.

Honestly, that was a pretty great first press trip to be on, because it was for a car I actually gave a damn about. The 500 Abarth was a genuinely fun, gleefully bonkers little car, and made perhaps the best sounds of almost anything available at the time. It was also the first time I’d really gotten to drive a car on a track, well, I guess I mean a non-shitty car, since I did an awful lot of track driving when I raced in the 24 Hours of Lemons way back in 2008. But that was in an 88 hp heap of a Ford Escort; this Abarth, while even smaller, had about twice the power and was, you know, not a shitbox.

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Vidframe Min Bottom

But let’s get back to the old video that was found: it shows the point where Fiat was showing off the 500 Abarth Venom concept car, a 200 hp version of the Abarth, with a carbon fiber hood and a whole bunch of other performance parts. To add some extra excitement, Fiat brought in Catrinel Marlon (then Catrinel Menghia) who had portrayed a sort of personification of the 500 Abarth in Fiat’s Super Bowl ad:

And, sure, that’s a lot of fun, what with the slapping and talking and all the sexy goings-on. Look, I get it, sex sells pretty much anything from cars to hemorrhoid unguents, and everyone likes looking at beautiful people, right? That seems to have been what Fiat was thinking when they flew Catrinel all the way out to Vegas for the event.

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Here’s what went down! [Ed Note: It’s Tim Kuniskis, current Ram and Dodge brand CEO, in the video below. -DT]. 

And yes, there I am, or at least me from a dozen years ago, back before I needed glasses to read and my hair was less gray and my aorta was still made of human flesh, not cybernetic Gor-tex. I looked back to see what I wrote about all of this back then, which was this:

In addition to presenting the 500 Abarths, they also presented a special-edition, 200 hp model with aggressive weight-reduction thanks to liberal use of carbon-fiber parts: an exciting car called the Venom, who’s release wasn’t clear just yet. But no one really cared to press more, because at the same time they showed that, they brought out the personification of the 500 Abarth from their ads, Romanian model Catrinel Menghia.

This, of course, was kind of an awful idea, because in moments the 8’4″ model (estimated) was soon surrounded by paunchy, horny, middle-aged auto journalists, taking pictures and emitting involuntary moans of pure longing. It was a little creepy. Besides, for safety reasons, I think women that beautiful can only be safely viewed through a pinhole poked into some cardboard, like an eclipse.

And, yeah, that’s kind of what I remember about it. It felt weird! I mean, yes, of course she’s stunning, that’s her job, and yes stunning people stir exciting, complicated things deep within us, but there was something embarrassing about both Fiat’s expectation that all these journalists could be hornified into a mass of pliant, car-loving jelly by trotting out this model, and by the fact that it pretty much worked.

There were the lame jokes about forgetting about the car and the line of dudes to take their picture with her, and, while I don’t really have a problem with beautiful people being hired to shill for whatever, it’s still a strange thing to witness in such a raw, uncut form.

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I don’t really have a big point to make here, beyond that it was fun to see this video and my little cameo in it, and how much that reminded me of how I started doing this, and how lucky I am that I both was able to keep going, and eventually end up here, in this wonderful place, surrounded by all of you.

Oh, also I want to note that in that 500 Abarth review the phrase “But I digress” was put in there by my editor. I didn’t write that. For whatever reason, I hate that phrase and will never willingly use it. Just wanted to make that clear.

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Tim Cougar
Tim Cougar
1 month ago

I remember thinking that Super Bowl ad was perfect when I first saw it, and it worked because I still want a 500 Abarth.

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
1 month ago

“surrounded by paunchy, horny, middle-aged auto journalists, taking pictures and emitting involuntary moans of pure longing”.

You Sir, are a master wordsmith.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
1 month ago

I thought the lead pic was a scene from Weird Science.

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
1 month ago

I test drove the Abarth and Fiesta ST back-to-back. Abarth was the sensible used choice at $14k and the ST was brand new at $24k.

I just could not get over how the shifter in the Abarth felt like palming a baseball, seriously it felt way too big for my hands, and the foot wells were too narrow to man spread so my right leg was painfully jammed in the center console.

Lucky me I had salesman of the year for the last decade and he tried to convince me that neither of those were real reasons for not taking the Abarth.

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
1 month ago
Reply to  Jdoubledub

I compared the two new, and I knew the Fiesta was the better more complete car,although not exactly an even match up because FIST is a segment of car above. Ultimately I bought the Abarth and have never regretted it. It is a slightly insane fizzy ball of joyous infectious cute angry fun, positively dripping with character. Still have it and will prob never sell it.

Tim Connors
Tim Connors
1 month ago

Jason, based solely on your writing style, I do hope you one day take the time to write a novel. It will be weird, and based on your readership here and at the old site I can confidently guarantee it will sell dozens of copies. Dozens I tell you!

Stay weird.

Adam Rice
Adam Rice
1 month ago

“But I digress.” No, Jason should never apologize for digressing. He’s built a successful career out of digressing. Digress away.

Tim Connors
Tim Connors
1 month ago
Reply to  Adam Rice

I read Torch articles primarily for the digressions at this point…

Memphomike
Memphomike
1 month ago
Reply to  Adam Rice

I think his point is that it’s perfectly acceptable to digress but unnecessary to announce it.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Adam Rice

Philosoraptor asks: Is it even possible to digress when your writing consists of nothing but digressions?

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
1 month ago
Reply to  Adam Rice

Torch never needs to say it because we all know he lives in a perpetual state of “I digress”

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Adam Rice

Chopin had Nocturnes, Satie had Gymnopedies, Jason has Digressions.

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