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Discussion Starter #1
I originally bought my Fiat to be my daily driver to/from work around town. I had no intention of modding it, racing it or doing anything too riske to it since most of my time and effort goes toward my off-roading hobby with my Xterra. This month I had to drive to Salt Lake City to catch a flight to the East Coast. When I flew back, I intended to explore the Northern Utah area and meet up with some of my Xterra friends.

I had given extensive thought trying to decide which vehicle to take on my overlanding/exploring/camping trip. Should I go with my tried and true off road steed:
2005 Nissan Xterra S



And use up a crap ton of gas on my very limited budget. Or, my other option is my daily driver:


2013 Fiat 500 S



My lack of expendable income caused me to choose the Fiat. I figure it will at least be an experiment in the comforts of camping AND to cause people to smile and laugh as they see me boping around in my miniature vehicle.


My planned route (minus a day or two stop in Salt Lake City to hang with friends and utilise two-legged travel methods): GOOGLE MAP ROUTE.


First things first, I changed out the oil and filter for the trip (probably a bit premature since it does not even had 3,000mi on the odo). Secondly, how to fit all my camping gear inside of a fiat? Well, a T50 torx, 16mm and 13mm socket set helped me solve that problem.


Now you see them:

Now you don't:

Standard shot of dogs testing out new fitment space:



The problem I have run into is that a Fiat does not come with a stock roof rack. I did not consider this an issue when I got it back in May since its intended use was to haul my bum to and from work and be an every day city-type driver...on an economical scale. I saw no point in spending $300-$400 for an aftermarket roof from (Yakima/Thule) for a one-time use.


The roof rack is meant to fit this:

*cough kayak cough*
(as well as a place to put my spare 1gal gas can (believe me, 1 gal lasts a dang long time)).


Other things I needed to get pre-trip:
  • Extra tarp for awning
  • more zip ties
  • growlers of *ahem* happy beverage for X friend as thanks for using his shop
  • stakes for tarp for awning
A match made in heaven?...nah, Idaho!


Here is the Fiat all packed up and ready to go!:



After removing the rear seats, I realised I had plenty of room to fit the majority (i.e. important) of my camping/survival gear. I did not need the roof rack (nor was I able to source one). Good thing, too, since weather in Utah took a nosedive.


I got amazing gas mileage on the way to UT. I filled up my tank (~3/4 tank) for about $27 before leaving and did not fill it till Snowden(?) just inside the ID-UT border (since there are no services along the way to Golden Spike). So basically I can drive from Boise to SLC on a tank of gas. This makes me happy.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Day one involved driving from the Boise area to West Haven, UT. I took a detour along the way to see Golden Spike National Monument. As a history buff, I was pretty excited to see this. En route to Golden Spike there was a sign on the highway indicating there was a "rocket display" as well. Rocket display? Wha?


Sure enough, rocket display!-->

Apparently there is a private company (ATK) that makes rockets and things for NASA and the DoD and had a really neat informative display in front of their facility.



The drive to Golden Spike is beautiful. There are signs of the RR business from the 1800s all over the area- leveling, rock blasts, ties, etc. Some background: the transcontinental RR was completed at Golden Spike in 1869 (hence the Nat'l Monu).



The two companies involved in the construction each had their own RR Engine- "Jupiter" and "Engine 119". The engines on display are near exact replicas of the originals:



There are trails to the E and W from the Visitor Center that explore the area. A view of the salt flats:

View of impressions left behind by RR Co:

Chinese Arch:



There were other trails to explore, but I was on a time crunch to catch a flight. Alas, I missed Promontory Point. I also had to remind myself I have about an 8" clearance for off-pavement trails, haha!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Upon my return, I fetched the Fiat (man, I wish Boise/Treasure Valley has a light rail system!!). I did some urban exploring, but I will not bore you with that.


BUT, I will share my "Where the F is Fiat?" photos from SLC:
Utah State Capitol



LDS Temple @night



I then took the Alpine Scenic Loop from American Fork Canyon (Hwy92) to Provo Canyon (Hwy189) in Uinta Nat'l Forest. Linky.
The day was mostly overcast, windy and rainy. Gladly, there was no snow though.















My friend thought it amusing that I drive with a giant stuffed animal T-rex in the Fiat. So she decided to include it in some of the photos.

Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon:


Things I like about the Fiat while scenic driving:
- I don't have to brake so hard going downhill
- I can take hairpin turns faster *giggles* (yet still safely)
- I save gas
- People smile at my when they pass me
- I can turn around in a very tight location
- I can park it anywhere...that is accessible to low clearance vehicles


Things I do not like about the Fiat:
- The engine is very underpowered (duh) = hard going up a mountainside
- Street tires do not do so well in clay
- Low clearance (duh)


List to be ongoing. Granted, I knew what I was purchasing when I got the Fiat and am fully away it is not meant for the uses I am currently using it as. Ah well.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The next day I decided to explore the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway (UT State Rte 150 from Kamas, UT to Evanston, WY). I knew that snow had fallen in the upper elevations the day before and was ready to call off the trip if need be. When I passed through Park City, UT a local said that Kamas got quite a bit of snow the night before. Luckily, when I arrived in Kamas, no snow was to be found. Just lots of soggy ground and puddles.


The clouds were pretty ominous the entire day and I was hoping they would behave.

Rockport Lake State Park at Wanship Dam.



Pretty fall colours were great to view. And low hanging clouds threatened to erupt...




I briefly saw some blue sky!!



Provo River Falls along the way:




And then I finally made it to Mirror Lake...in a snowstorm with snow fog.





Needless to say, it was fun! And the Fiat performed well enough since there was no accumulation on the road (street tires).
View from Bald Mountain (~10,749' elev):



Soapstone Road:


I decided to turn around at Mirror Lake (the original plan anyway). The route was in open range country, so keeping a vigilant eye out for cattle was a must. They tended to walk down the middle of the road in a herd.


I took a little side trek alongside the main highway for better scenery. The Fiat did well, even though I know it is not meant to leave pavement:





On my way home, I smelled burning. It did not smell like electrical stuff, and I went outside to make sure it was not a campfire. Nope, burning from the Fiat. Crap.


Took it to the Fiat dealership in SLC (John Garff) to rule out any serious issues before I had to drive home. They entertained my desire to take a photo of my mud splattered Fiat next to a new showroom model:

The service techs were highly amused by the dirtiness of my Fiat. And the burning smell was simply all the grass and mud stuck to the undercarriage. Heh. Go ahead and laugh. It is funny sh*t. I know I did. Apparently my warranty covers a thorough wash/wax on the undercarriage and outside, hahaha!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
After my Fiat was thoroughly waxed and cleaned, I went off to explore Antelope Island State Park. Having a nice shiny vehicle for the first time in months, I decided against going on too many dirt tracks this time.

To get to the island, you drive on a ~6mi causeway on Great Salt Lake. Some views:




Once on the island, there were paved roads to explore the various parts of it. And great views!


And American Bison! A giant herd of them all over the island. As well as pronghorn antelope. I kind of wanted a photo of a bison near the Fiat, but I was not about to be one of those moronic tourists doing stupid things near the wildlife. This photo instead, will have to do:


Where is the Fiat?


Found it! Now time for downhill!


Signs were all over the island with interesting historical tidbits. Apparently a 1920s silent movie filmed on the island to capture the bison stampeding.


After a few hours, and not too many dirt experiences, I headed home...to Boise.

Which brings me to my final comment/question- do any of you have other drivers flash their brights at you thinking your headlights are on the bright setting? I have had this happen repeatedly. Even getting semi trucks doing it. I find it very annoying.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks! I truly did not mean for it to go off pavement much, but sometimes I simply cannot help myself. I was impressed how much cargo space is available once the rear seats are removed. It also helps that I adventure on my own, so only my crap takes up space, haha.
 

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Great trip and pics. I find the key to getting these adequately :) powered cars to keep up / get up some of the 'hills' around here is just drop it down a gear or so... or maybe it's just the sound of the high revving engine that feels faster :)

Love that color too, very cool
 

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Thanks! Oh yes, I definitely had trouble keeping up the 80mph speed driving up mountains on the interstate. I swallowed my pride and went in the far right lane with the semis going about 55mph. I suppose I could have tried harder to stay at a faster speed, but my goal was efficient gas mileage. Having a car full of crap, too, I'm sure had an effect on power.

I have an automatic, too. When going down mountains (on dirt or non-busier roads, esp curvy ones), I use the manual-auto option to keep my speeds more controlled (I do the same with my X when wheeling descents). You are correct, shifting gears is much more helpful. I bet your hills are very fun to traverse!
 

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Thanks for sharing - that looked like a lot of fun. Great pictures too.
You need to get some RallyArmor mud flaps from Eurocompulsion before your next trip!
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
^Ha yeah, I probably should!

I was thinking more along these lines:


I've actually thought about mounting some lights into the grill area. But I realise that the light output from the front end is more than adequate. My off road friends already have a chassis picked out to put the FIAT body on. I told them to wait till it's paid off, haha!

I would actually love to learn more about this build:




I find it funny, no matter how much I try, I cannot get into the "street/road" look. What truly interests me is off road-related things. And making my FIAT more trail capable rather than a speedy pavement traveler is what interests me most, haha!
 

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Thanks for sharing your trip, looks like a great time with some awesome views - you would be amazed at the difference between the 500 with an automatic and the 5 speed, its ridiculous...before the Abarth and L, my wife and I had two Pops her auto, mine a stick and it was insane the way i could leave her behind as we entered the freeway - drove mine through Arkansas and although that's not exactly mountains, i was able to downshift and maintain my speed and still got 42 miles per gallon
 

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Discussion Starter #17
^Thanks! I typically fill out trip reports after I go wheeling in the X and thought doing the same (or similar) with the Fiat might be fun to share.

Thanks for sharing your trip, looks like a great time with some awesome views - you would be amazed at the difference between the 500 with an automatic and the 5 speed, its ridiculous...before the Abarth and L, my wife and I had two Pops her auto, mine a stick and it was insane the way i could leave her behind as we entered the freeway - drove mine through Arkansas and although that's not exactly mountains, i was able to downshift and maintain my speed and still got 42 miles per gallon
Oh man, I bet! An ongoing work injury prevented me from purchasing a manual. Sometimes I rethink that decision. Now is definitely one of those times!

I have looked into turbo/supercharger kits by Thomas Knight (originally used in jet/speed boats) to put into the Fiat for more oomph going up mountains. But that project is sidelined till I win the lottery, haha!
 

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Thanks. I appreciate the kind words and your giving the thumbs up on publishing this on the blog. If you want to be properly credited, PM me the name you want me to use.

Thanks again. I'll put it up this weekend or next week.
 
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