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“Unfortunately, I got into a crash”: how a Melbourne wrecking yard changed my life

When Geoff Hall was a teenager, he loved old cars. Unfortunately, on a rainy day in the 1980s, Geoff flipped and crashed his first fiat 1500. I sat down with Geoff Hall to talk about about how finding the car in the wrecking yard impacted his life in the past, present and future.

(Photo by Sophie Hall)
Q: What was a moment that changed your life?

A: The moment that changed my life was in 1985, so when I was about 15 and my dad brought home an old car that was essentially for my brother. The car was a 1963 fiat 1500. I really liked this old car because it was different from all the other cars, my uncle had some fiats and one of dad’s friends had some fiats but this one was different. It was a little sedan looking thing with a nice face and cool interior. So as soon as I saw that car, I knew that was the car for me. 

Then a couple years later, my brother decided he didn’t want that car, so I got to have that fiat instead. So, because that was ‘his’, I went out and got my own 1500 for $130 and did that up. I drove it around on my Ls and then Ps for a bit. Unfortunately, I got into a crash so then I used my brother’s one for a while. That one was a little bit rusty, so I went to this old place called Pick a Part. They sold old car parts in their wrecking yard. I noticed this blue 1500 about to be crushed by a machine so I went to the front office and asked how much for that car, and I remember them saying $100, so I bought it and I have had that little blue car since about 1992.

Geoff and his mum Andrea in 1989 (Photo by David Hall)
Q: At the time of getting the car, what was going on in your life?

A: When I got the little blue car which is the one, I still have, I had a girlfriend called Jessica, a friend called Matthew who was also into old cars, and I was at uni. I got the Fiat on the road quickly and then used it as my car to drive to uni! I would also use it every Friday night when my friends, Jessica and I would have a pizza and games night. Jessica and I would also use it on our camping and snow trips! Eventually, Jessica and I got married and we used that old car for our wedding which was quite special for the both of us.

Geoff and his wife Jessica on their wedding day in 1998 (Photo by David Hall)
Q: Has anything exciting or influential happened with the car since you got it?

A: When we moved to Canberra in the 2000s, I joined the Fiat Club and started using the car for racing, we went on tours around the Snowy Mountains. I’ve driven it to Victoria and New South Wales for car shows, so it has always been a part of my life. Then, when my two girls were born, I fitted it out with car seats in the back and started using it as my everyday car! 

I know that my eldest daughter loves driving it on her Ls. Even though it’s a manual, that has never stopped her from falling in love with the little car, which makes me very happy. She has started driving it with the Fiat car club as well which according to the members is lovely to see the influence the fiat has had on the younger generation.

Geoff on the racetrack in 2019 (Photo by James Barlow)
Q: What skills have you learned from finding this life changing car?

A: Because I got the little blue car from a wrecking yard, the skills I learned from renovating it. I have had the pleasure of bringing a Fiat 600, Fiat 500, another Fiat 1500 and more back to life. 

I never thought that on that one random day when I saw that blue 1963 Fiat 1500 in my local wrecking in Melbourne would not only change my life, but also the lives of my family.

If you want to find out more and see cool photos and videos of multiple old cars, you can follow @austin7fiat on Instagram or subscribe to classicfiats on YouTube!

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Sophie Hall is an aspiring young journalist in year 11 at Lake Ginninderra College who is excited to share her work with the world.