Rodolfo is a longtime admirer of unique European cars, particularily those of Italian manufacture. His first close-up experience came at the age of 15, as a passenger in his father’s ’72 Ford Torino, when a black 1985 X1/9 passed along side of him in New London Connecticut. From that point on, the FIAT would be an elusive, but much sought after vehicle he had to own. In 1988, Rodolfo test drove a black 1982 X1/9 that was for sale for $3,000 at Import Auto in Mystic, CT. The following year, he found 2 brand new 1987 leftovers at Falvey’s Jeep and FIAT in New London, CT – a red one and a black one. These were the last new Bertone’s for sale at the dealer and there would be no more after these were gone. After driving the black one, he left the dealer empty-handed.
It was not until 1999, 10 years later, that he would buy his first Bertone. It was a 1976 brown X1/9 listed in the Orange County California Recycler paper for $500. While the car ran and drove, rust problems did not make it a feasible restoration candidate for his inexperience, lack of tooling and having no facilities to properly undertake the project adequately. He later sold it for $300.
In 2001, he sought FIAT ownership again, this time a 124 Spider. Having located one in West Hollywood from the Recylcer, he inspected it and went for a test drive. Not quite piquing his interests, he went on to visit another car that same day; a 1985 black X1/9 – in Agoura Hills California. This one he purchased for $900 and drove it home the next day. In the eyes of his father, Rodolfo Sr., the X1/9 would be a “good hobby car” however for Rodolfo Jr., this became a special project in which he would cut his teeth learning how to work on a car for the first time. It was not soon after this X1/9 became a daily driver to and from work when another project ensued; a 1981 yellow X1/9. Eventually, despite having attained a teenage dream of owning a 2-seater, somewhat “exotic” sportscar, both cars would be sold to pursue other interests.
While many cars have come and gone in his years of driving, no other vehicle has had quite the aesthetic appeal as the Bertone. It became a unique experience, not just something to use to get from one place to another. It was a body of sorts, in need of constant tweaking and repair to regain its charm and functionality; to be cared for and nourished with fluids and additivies; and in return it’s soul would rejuvenate a spirit of motoring that differs with modern autos. In the absence of one; a return to everyday anonimity.
6 months later, another X1/9 would appear.
Rodolfo currently resides in Dana Point, California and is employed as a Sarbanes-Oxley contractor. He possesses a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from Southern Connecticut State University and Master’s training in Project Management from Villanova.