COSTA MESA — They're bigger than a Smart car, smaller than a Mini Cooper, and they're rolling into Orange County this week.
The Orange Coast Fiat dealership, the first of its kind for this area in decades, officially opened Tuesday amid ongoing construction. The dealership is selling variants of the 500, a tiny car with bold Italian styling that is helping Fiat reenter the United States market after a long absence.
However, the dealership on Harbor Boulevard has actually been doing business for a few months and already has 15 car orders, said Orange Coast President Jonathan Gray.
Once plans were announced in December to import the Italian-made cars, Gray said there was immediate excitement.
"People here love their cars, and they love style," Gray said. "They're passionate about looks, clothes, lifestyle, everything. Italian design is super passionate, personal and everything that people love."
The Fiat dealership took over the dealership space formerly occupied by Jeep. Gray moved the Jeep lot down the street, where his family-owned Orange Coast Auto Group also holds dealerships for Chrysler, and Dodge vehicles.