Fiat put the pedal to the metal for its purchase of Chrysler, and now the deed is done. Just hours after the Supreme Court removed the barricades that a coalition of Indiana pensioners had erected, the Italian auto company completed the purchase of Chrysler's assets.

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The pavement is still warm from the speed with which this deal moved to the finish line. The Obama administration put Chrysler on the fast track to be sold -- and sure enough, in just six weeks, Chrysler has gone from entering bankruptcy protection to being successfully extracted. General Motors (NYSE:GM) can only hope to have such afterburners lit behind its journey through the courts.

But to finance the deal, the U.S. taxpayer is putting up more money than Fiat is. Specifically, you and I are adding $6.6 billion in exit financing, compared with exactly zero for Fiat. For its 20% stake in the automaker -- with the option to buy as much as 35% -- Fiat instead will engage in a "technology sharing" exchange program.

The other winners in this deal are, of course, the unions, which will get $4 billion in cash and 55% of the equity in Chrysler. The other debtholders ... not so much. Typically, secured creditors have seniority in bankruptcy proceedings. Not so this time. Instead, they were forced to take $0.29 on the dollar for the nearly $7 billion in loans they held.

Love, Italian style
The deal gives Chrysler the chance to race another day, but there's not much reason to think it will do any better now that it's in the hands of Fiat, even with all of the small-car technology that the company says it will move into Chrysler's cars. Fiat hasn't sold a car in the U.S. in decades, because its vehicles weren't desirable to buyers when it did try to sell them here. It's unclear why anyone thinks they'll be any more so today.

What's more, American consumers have shown some disdain for laying out cash to buy any car in this recession, domestic or foreign -- but they've been even more reluctant to purchase Chrysler cars in particular.


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That could be a function of the automaker's financial troubles -- Ford, after all, has shunned any handouts and has performed slightly better than most -- but teaming Chrysler up with a manufacturer that's avoided the U.S. market altogether doesn't exactly seem like a means of reaching the checkered flag.

Bella ciao!
Fiat-Chrysler got the green light it needed, and thousands of jobs have been saved in the process. The Obama administration has a lot of personal prestige riding on the success of this pairing, too. But still, there's a trunk full of potential hazards remaining, not least of which is the risk that taxpayers will have to keep pumping extraordinary amounts of money into these companies' engines to keep them running.

With any luck, this combination will actually be one of the "leaner and meaner" car companies that the administration has been touting. Time will tell.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. Say "buona sera!" to The Motley Fool's disclosure policy.