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Tom Hanks: More Than An Actor - He's 100% Enthusiast

Belying all his success is the heart of an Enthusiast
By Leo Shvedsky
April 22 2022
Hanks in Fiat. (Autoblog) 

Ahhh…just saying “Tom Hanks” conjures up images of what’s best about the U.S. of A – at least what we portray ourselves to be when Tom Hanks characterizes our best American selves on the big screen. It would be naïve to suggest that the two-time Oscar winner is as simple as the characters he plays on the screen. Great actors are a lot like great writers – the more simple the character, or, in the case of the writer the sentence, the more complex and sophisticated the talent expressing the sentiment. It would be lazy for us to neatly classify Hanks as the most loved actor in Hollywood – renowned for being such a nice guy – because the depth of his talent tells us he’s much more than that – as evidenced by his vast curiosity that also manifests as an enthusiast of the highest order, which includes putting his money where his passion is, with collections ranging from typewriters to campers and cars.  

It's adorable by feisty. (Motor1.com) 

Speaking of the latter, last August Hanks auctioned off four of his cars at Monterey, for charity of course, including a Tesla, a Ford pickup and his Airstream trailer (which sold for $235,000) he used as his trailer on movie sets.  That’s a fairly eclectic mix of cars, indicating a refined automotive palate – but most recently, it’s Hanks’ auction of his Fiat 126p, a piece de resistance  

that brought in $83,500 at the Hidden Heroes auction benefitting caregivers for injured military veterans. The car is unique because most enthusiasts and collectors, unless they’re Fiat-heads, don’t think of this as their first Fiat to buy. Most think of a Panda or a 131 Abarth for their rally pedigrees, but the 126p is special for other reasons.  

The Polski 126p began life behind the Iron Curtain in communist-era Poland, where the car was licensed for production by a factory in the town of Bielsko-Biala. This beast of a sub-compact car sports a 594-cubic centimeter two-cylinder engine that produces a screaming 56-horsepower.  

We couldn’t find any 0-60 mph stats, but rest assured they would blow your face right off. Soviet-era indeed.  

Hanks’ new car joke. (Twitter) 

The car was gifted to the actor as a bit of a joke. Being the cheeky enthusiast that he is, whenever he would see a Fiat 126 parked in the streets of Europe during his travels he would take a photo and post it on Twitter with it and caption it “I got a new car!” Amazing.  

One these posts caught the attention of a Polish local named Monika Jaskólska who decided to start a campaign to gift Tom Hanks a Fiat 126p (the p is for Poland). A local company then took it upon themselves to restore one of these beauties — they were discontinued in the early ’90s — and send it by cargo jet to sunny L.A.  

Hanks received the car, affixed with a typewriter key stick shift knob and a plaque with a “Forrest Gump” quote on his birthday, which makes this oh so special. And now Hanks has gifted the car to the world in the name of an honorable cause.  

Given that that even collector-level 126’s goes for less than $10,000 nowadays, the fact that it went for as much as it did speaks not only to the generosity of those who are seeking to be charitable, but also to the popularity and affection toward the man who gave us “Turner & Hooch.” (That movie still makes us cry.) 

Don’t even get us started on Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Splash or, based on our last count, any of Hank’s other 94 feature films. 

“Beauty, of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears,” wrote Edgar Allan Poe in The Philosophy of Composition. 

Kind of personifies that feeling you get when you see your favorite car, right? 

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