Count to 124
by Zach Maskell
For our over the edge guy, we knew the new Fiat 124 spider probably won’t suffice. Time to cruise with Zach Maskell, and a collector with enough of the original 124 Spiders, to provide transportation for an Italian wedding party.
ZACH MASKELL: Pottstown, Pennsylvania, sitting about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, is where you’ll find Shaun Folkerts and his family. And, they have more Fiat Spiders, and other classic Italian hardware, than just about anyone else on this side of the Atlantic.
“I mainly specialize in Fiat, Lancia, Pininfarina, Bertone and some of the other off-brands. Bitters, Citroen, Alfa Romeo.”
He was a scientist… before he moved full-time to “automobil-ology.” This building holds most of the 200 (mostly Fiats) cars he owns.
“What was your first car and what was your second?”
“My first car was a 1981 Fiat Spider, Red, that I bought when I was 16 years old and three days. And the second one was a parts car that I needed to fix the rear differential on that very first Fiat Spider.”
“So it was cheaper for you to get a parts car, then it would’ve been for you to fix the rear diff.
“That’s correct and I ended up with a lot of spare parts in the process.”
Shaun has a favorite car for each purpose. Whether that’s out to dinner on a Friday night, or taking his shop help to soccer practice.
“My wife and daughter are great help and they share my passion for all the cars and we have a great time with them.”
Friends get to have fun, too. He and his wife knew they had the perfect solution for getting their wedding party from point A to B.
“There was never a chance of hiring a limousine. We have all these great cars to use, so basically each of our groomsmen got a set of keys and a bridesmaid and we used all our cars in the wedding party.”
And family vacations? They’ll often include a pit stop. You see, Shaun can’t buy everything he likes… but he can accept some. Regardless of the reason, if the owners can’t keep them anymore… they’re loaded on a trailer and added to his collection. Shaun was nice enough to let us cruise in his pride and joy… a Fiat 124… Spider.
“Oh yeah. Super easy to drive. Comfortable seats, I like the gear shifter. Clutch is simple.”
“What are we in right now?”
“This is an 82’ Spider which the model went from 66’ up to 1985 ½. The 85 ½ was its own model and the 83 and 85 was its own model. So this is sort of the last of the Fiat built Spiders.”
“This is my favorite car ever. It’s a twin-cam Lampredi designed engine. Four-wheel disk brakes. 5 speed synchronized transmission. There’s really nothing I don’t like.”
“There’s a very short linkage on this transmission – it’s maybe 6 or 8 inches, other than that you’re basically going straight into the transmission here. So you get a real nice direct feel.
“Nothing to get in your way”
Not five minutes into our drive… we were being pointed out of the crowd.
“You hear everybody yelling ‘Look at that car.’ Ha-ha, I love that.”
In fact, visitors from Europe, Canada, and the West Coast frequent the warehouse. If you need a reference point or a tip… This guy is happy to help.
“These cars came with power windows but it takes about a minute and a half to get them up.”
“That’s one weak motor.”
“Anyone considering buying one of these make sure you get the manual windows.”
Why all these classic Italian cars? Shaun feels they embody the same passion that makes older Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s so desirable… but were much easier to buy, and live with.