The sale of Fiats in Australia has for the most part been the responsibility of the various importers at the time, Fiat Auto as such has only on odd occasions had an office in this country.
While small quantities of cars were imported prior to World War II, the bulk of Fiat sales here were in the sixties and seventies, with sales declining through the eighties and Fiat finally leaving our market by the start of the nineties. Consequently, the majority of our current club member's cars are the sixties and seventies models.
After an abscence of around twelve years, Fiat has fianlly returned to our market with the NEW Punto. Fiat announced that it will return to Australian car showrooms on Saturday 1 July 2006 with the all-new Fiat Punto heralding a range of new cars from the renowned Italian car maker. The Fiat Ducato commercial vehicles became available in 2002.
Following its launch in Europe last year, the Punto has proven to be an outstanding success for Fiat Auto. It has driven straight to the top of the sales charts, doubled Fiat sales in markets such as the UK and made Fiat the fastest growing major marque in Europe this year. The Fiat Punto will arrive in Australia with a choice of three or five doors, four different engines including some of the most advanced diesel engines in the market and an equipment level and price combination that will place it at the top of the value for money league. The Fiat range will be sold initially from the Alfa Romeo dealer group, but, as sales grow, Fiat-specific dealers will be appointed across Australia.
The Fiat Car Club of Queensland had unofficial beginnings early in 1964. From a chance meeting of some Fiat owners prior to the Tasman Series race at Lakeside International Raceway, it was suggested by one of them that it would be a great idea to drive to Lakeside on the following Sunday in convoy.
A phone call to prominent 4BH Disc Jockey and race driver Bill Gates produced three or four announcements on his Saturday afternoon show. These asked any Fiat owners who wished to go to Lakeside to meet the next morning outside Europa Motors (later Continental Car Service).
The result was that approximately 20 assorted Fiats of the day and their occupants had their first outing together. Over the next couple of months suggestions of forming a club were brought forward and this eventually led to the inaugural meeting at the QMSC clubrooms on July 30, 1964.
The first monthly newsletter went out on August 3, and the first club events were a general meeting on August 6 followed by an Observation Day Run to College's Crossing on Sunday the 9th. Other club events in the early years consisted of Motorkhanas, Night Navigation Runs and Day Runs.
By the early Seventies the club was growing considerably as Fiats were selling quite well by imported car standards, and mainly attracting "enthusiast motorists" as their owners. Membership grew thanks to the efforts of many in the motor trade, who made new Fiat owners aware of the existence and benefits of the club.
Club events were expanded to meet the needs of the enthusiastic members, and now also featured speed events such as lap dashes, hillclimbs, rallies and sprints. By then the trek south for the annual Tri-State Motorkhana Challenge was the highlight of the year's calendar, and our team finally managed to win the Fiat of Italy Cup for the first of many times in 1976.
Throughout the Seventies and Eighties competition events were the mainstay of the club's activities, but into the Nineties as the cars (and members) got older and more tired the emphasis swung back to social events. However, the insurance issues which arose in the early 2000's have necessitated a re-think of the club's activities and the decision was made in 2003 to affiliate the club with the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) to allow the running of more competitive events with appropriate insurance cover.
As of 2004 the club is now CAMS affiliated and will be conducting a wider range of events to cater for the broad range of interests of our many members. It will now also be able to offer CAMS licensing for all interested members. Membership of the club also entitles members with vehicles over thirty years of age to apply for concessional registration with Queensland transport.
The club now also has a very full social calendar, with a wide variety of events to suit all tastes. Invariably the consumption of food and wine seems to be a common factor at most events, and needless to say a good time is generally had by all! Club membership is open to all interested persons - Fiat ownership is not necessary, just the common interest in and enthusiasm for the marque.