by Jorge “Francis” Bergoglio
People buy cars based on what they think that car says about them, even if they’re wrong. How many people buy BMWs and Mercedes because they think it will help them to indulge in the carnal sin of the flesh? And yet that really doesn’t work very well, as I have learned from experience. (I wasn’t always in the clergy, you know.)
Nowadays, what I value in a car is austerity and humility. And after touring the austere scenery of America’s east coast in Fiat’s family-sized hatchback, I am pleased to report that there is no more humiliating experience than driving the Fiat 500L.
Though the outside of the 500L appears no larger than that crummy little apartment I live in at the Vatican, it turned out that there was plenty of room for me, my driver, and three of my closest co-workers, although it certainly helps that those three don’t make a habit of appearing in fleshly form. Leg and shoulder space are adequate, and there’s so much headroom that I seriously considered trading in my yarmulke for the ridiculously tall hat John Paul II was so fond of.
The 500L’s big doors make for easy ingress and egress, especially when one is wearing a cassock (and that’s what it’s called, people, so please stop calling it a dress, because it isn’t. Women wear dresses, and women aren’t supposed to be priests, remember?). And the ergonomics are excellent for a holy man such as myself, with all controls falling right to hand: Patris, Filii, Spiritus Sancti, rear defogger.
I have advised my clergy to be thrifty in their choice of transportation, so the 500L’s plummeting resale value is a definite advantage. The 500L loses nearly 80% of its value the moment you drive it off the dealer’s lot, and you can pick up a clean secondhand example with less than 24,000 miles on the clock for about the same price as a used Dan Brown paperback.
Of course, reliability is a concern with any Fiat, especially one built in Serbia at a former Yugo plant. I find that a regimen of daily prayer kept the 500L running just fine, but if you aren’t a Catholic, you might be better off buying a Honda.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the head of the Catholic Church, Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City. A native of Buenos Aires, Jorge has also worked as a chemist and a nightclub bouncer. When he isn’t writing car reviews for Autoblopnik.com or leading the largest Christian order in the world, he enjoys watching soccer, dancing the tango, and riding the bus.
After being flatly turned down for a merger by General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Fiat-Chrysler Automobili says CEO Sergio Marchionne is now looking for alternate merger partners.
“They don’t like Italian-Americans, fine, whatever,” said Marchionne, responding to Mary Barra’s reported off-the-record comments that she thinks Fiat-Chrysler is “sooooo gross” and that GM would “rather merge with a slug.”
“We don’t need GM,” Marchionne continued. “There’s plenty of other companies we can merge with, and then GM will be sorry. They’ll see us with another company, and they’ll realized what they missed, and Mary will be all like, ‘Hey, Fiat, maybe we should get together,’ and I’ll be all like, ‘Too late, GM, you had your chance.'”
Fiat-Chrysler is reportedly actively pursuing other potential merger partners, including Ford, Mercedes, Volkswagen, the Church of Scientology, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Tyson Chickens, and the letter N.
Meanwhile, Ms. Barra denied that GM would reconsider a merger with Fiat.
“I just don’t think the synergies are there,” she said. “Fiat-Chrysler is a very attractive company, but it really doesn’t make that much money. Plus, well, let’s just say that Fiat has had a lot of partners in the past. You know what I mean?”
Asked about GM’s own past partnerships with Fiat, including a deal with VM that resulted in the engine for the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, Ms. Barra said, “OMG, I can NOT believe you brought that up! That was soooo embarrassing. Sergio thinks it was good for both of us, but let me tell you, GM has had lots of better partnerships than that. I mean, gawd, you let a company build you one little diesel engine, and all of a sudden it’s like they think they own you. What’s up with that? Anyway, that was a one-time mistake that will NOT happen again.”
“She said what?” Mr. Marchionne responded. “Listen, that Cruze is carrying my engine, and that means everything to me. Everything. Why, Mary? Why?”
“Sergio just needs to get it into his head that a merger is not going to happen,” Ms. Barra said. “GM is happy to be friends with Fiat-Chrysler, but in terms of a long-term relationship, we’re just not that into them.”
J.D. Power and Associates announced the results of their 2014 Initial Quality Study™ in which the Fiat division of the newly-formed Fiat-Chrysler Chryslermotive Corporation finished dead last, with each new Fiat experiencing an average of more than two problems.
“We are incredibly proud of our poor performance,” said Chrysler-Fiat spokesproblem Riccardo Denauissimo. “A lot of people were worried that adapting Fiat cars for the American market would take away the essential character of the brand. Our last-place finish in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study™ shows that Fiat is still very much Fiat.”
Nearly Double Industry Average
The JD Power Initial Quality Study™ measures the number of problems experienced per hundred vehicles in the first ninety days of ownership.
“Fiat’s score of 206 problems per 100 cars is nearly double the industry average,” explained J. D. Power and Associates spokespower Jefferson Davis Powaaaah™. “The ironic thing is that it would be more than double the average if their crappy cars hadn’t raised the average so high. Honestly, I wish Fiat would build their cars better, because those big numbers really screw up our bar graphs. You have to squint to see the winning scores.”
Fiat owners are showing surprising enthusiasm about Fiat’s poor quality performance.
“My 500 Abarth has been back in the shop fourteen times in the year and a half since I bought it, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Giovanni Doeissimo, president of the Fiat Owners Club of Kenosha. “When I first got my car, my father said it wasn’t a proper Fiat because the windshield didn’t leak and it would usually start on the second or third try. But now that the car is on its second air conditioning compressor and its third water pump, he’s singing a different tune. Last week I went to take Dad for a ride and the door handle came right off in his hand! We just laughed and laughed. He said it made him nostalgic for the 124 Spyder he drove in college.”
Giovanetta Smithissimo, a schoolteacher and part-time dominatrix from Greasyneck, New Jersey, says her 500 reminds her of her first new car, a 1980 Fiat Strada, which she fondly remembers could be counted on to work at least two days out of every week.
“I drove that car until the front suspension rotted right out of the body, which happened about eight months after I bought it,” she said. “Since then, I’ve owned a Renault Alliance, a Hyundai Excel, a Plymouth Volare, a Ford Aspire, a Chevy Citation, an Eagle Premiere, even a Yugo GV, but I never liked any of them as much as my Strada. I’ve had my 500 for two months, and already the doors are starting to rust and the turn signals have stopped working when it rains. I’m so happy to be driving a Fiat again!”
Another Subhead Goes Here
Dodge, Ram and Jeep owners also reported a higher-than-average number of problems, with Jeep second only to Fiat. Chrysler’s defect rate was disappointingly low, a situation that Denauissimo says the company plans to address.
“Italian brands don’t corner the market on sub-par build quality,” he told Autoblopnik. “American car companies in general, and Chrysler in particular, have a long history of building crappy cars. We’re happy that Fiat is willing to keep traditions like this alive.”
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Chrysler Fiat Fiat Chrysler Automotive held a massive press conference announcing their product plans for the next five years.
The Chrysler brand will be moved even further upmarket, starting with a refreshed 300 and a redesigned Town & Country. Chrysler will then cement its reputation as a Mercedes competitor by introducing a car designed to compete with the Toyota Corolla.
Plans for the Jeep brand include killing off the Compass and Patriot and introducing the new Renegade.
“Car-based SUVs with extremely limited off-road capability nearly ruined the Jeep brand’s reputation, so they are history,” said Jeep spokeshistorian Todd Gayer. “Eliminating these two vehicles will make way for a new car-based SUV with extremely limited off-road capability.”
After much speculation that Fhrysler Ciat would kill off the Dodge brand and move performance models over to the new SRT brand, Fchrysler shocked the assembled crowd by announcing that the SRT brand would be eliminated and absorbed by the Dodge brand.
“See what I did there?” said Dodge spokesperson Billy Crystal. “You thought I was going to get rid of Dodge, but I went the other way. Don’t get me started!”
Dodge revealed a new ad campaign indicating their continued commitment to making cars for old people. The brand also confirmed that there will be an SRT version of the Dart coming in 2016, but that no decision had been made as to whether the Dart SRT will be awesome like the Neon SRT4 or suck balls like the Caliber SRT4.
A Fiat representative, who looked quite surprised when told it was his turn to speak, said, “Well, um, we’re, uh, of course we have a five-year plan, it’s just that… er… well, our five-year plan includes, um, a… er… a 500… X! Yes, that’s it, a 500X, and it’ll look a lot like, er… like a Buick Encore with MINI Countryman headlights.”
Alfa-Romeo announced that it will continue its strategy of designing exceptionally desirable cars, promising them to the American market for months, and then building a frustratingly small number of them, all while changing their dealership strategy every seven minutes so that company employees and their friends can snatch all of them up before the general public can figure out where the hell to buy one.
The company also revealed a new sign that said “FCA” on it. The sign was quickly removed after it was revealed that “FCA”, when read out loud, is very close to way New Yorkers pronounce “fucker”.
Spokeschrysler Todd Graham concluded the press conference by telling the assembled journalists, “And by the way, we cannot comment on future product.”
Italian automaker Fiat has announced their plans to purchase Hostess Brands, saving the legendary American bakery from liquidation.
“Iconic Hostess products such as the Twinkie®, the Ring Ding™, and Wonder Bread® are a perfect match for our company,” Fiat’s American spokesperson Suavé Ristorante told Autoblopnik. “Hostess products are delightfully small, cheaply made, and not particularly good for you, which is very much in line with Fiat’s brand values.”
Fiat plans to restart manufacturing of Hostess products immediately, addressing critical long-standing quality issues such as the uneven chocolate coating on the ends of Yodels™. Fiat engineers also plan to reduce the number of Twinkie® cream-filling holes from three to two in order to conform with European snack cake regulations.
Ristorante was careful to note that the U.S. market is critical to Fiat’s success with Hostess. “Despite a rapid rise in China’s share of the junk food market, Americans currently consume 78% of the world’s fatty snacks,” Ristorante says, adding that Hostess will continue to focus on American consumers, though future versions of the Hostess products may be partially based on European desserts in order to maximize commonality and economies of scale.
Junk food enthusiasts expressed doubt as to whether Fiat would really leave Hostess unchanged.
“Sure, maybe they’ll crank out a few Sno Balls® and Ring® Dings™ as we know them,” said Fatty “Fats”™ Fatass, Editor-at-large-and-we-do-mean-large of Practical Snacking® magazine, “but how long do you think that will last? The Italians® have tried to sell desserts in this country in the past, and they simply weren’t up to American standards. Have you ever tasted cavallucci? That shit is nasty.”
Ristorante denied that Fiat would radically alter Hostess’ iconic products.
“We will make changes where they make sense, such as the source of the flour and the type of rendered animal fat used to make the cream filling,” he explained, “but the look, feel, and taste of the products will stay the same. A Twinkie® will always be a Twinkie®. It will never be a rebadged tiramisu.”
EDITORS’ NOTE: This story has absolutely nothing to do with this story on Hooniverse.