Fiat Chrysler plans to dust off a bit of its past by finding and restoring classic cars from four of the group’s marques. The automaker inaugurated a factory restoration program that will focus on Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia and Abarth classics.
But this effort won’t operate as a client service: The FCA Heritage program will seek out the cars around the world, restore them to factory spec and then offer them for sale.
“The new ‘Reloaded by Creators’ project opens a new, original chapter in the FCA Heritage story: From now on, the Department will also be offering for sale a limited number of carefully selected classic cars, specially purchased by the Department, which have been restored to their original glory and guaranteed by the constructor (hence the name of the service),” FCA said in announcing the program. “The sums raised will then be used to finance new scouting activities to add important new pieces to FCA’s historic collection. This is therefore a real cultural project, inspired by the modus operandi of art museums worldwide.”
The program already has five cars to demonstrate its work: a 1989 Alfa Romeo SZ, a 1973 Lancia Fulvia Coupe Montecarlo, a 1981 Pininfarina Spidereuropa, a 1959 Lancia Appia Coupe and a 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider. That last one might be the most familiar car of the five to U.S. audiences, but we wouldn’t rule out a few Alfa Romeo SZs trickling into the country in the coming years as collectors seek out the rarer sports cars of the 1980s.
The factory restoration program will seek out candidate cars and then sell them to enthusiasts after performing the restoration.
The upside for collectors is that, unlike other factory restoration programs, FCA will offer the cars for sale to an existing audience. But the downside for current owners is they won’t be able to commission restorations from the program directly.
Of course, the aim is not merely to polish existing cars — plenty of high-end restorers can do that to a better-than-new standard — but to discover and preserve rare examples that may not otherwise receive attention. Consider the inclusion of the 1991 Spider in the effort — it’s not the type of car that might otherwise receive a money-no-object restoration due to its value on the collector market, which makes a factory restoration a truly unique undertaking.
“Each car’s timeless beauty lives again thanks to the care, know-how and passion of our team of experts at the Officine Classiche,” FCA said. “From discovery, through painstaking scouting work, to restoration, and from promotion to return to the market: a ‘complete cycle’ that adds cultural worth to a car’s financial value. Because safeguarding a legacy means renewal, and not just conservation.”