RE: Fiat Coupe: PH Buying Guide

RE: Fiat Coupe: PH Buying Guide

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Discussion

LuS1fer

34,879 posts

184 months

Monday 4th September 2017
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Shame he ran out of ideas at the back end.
Imagine some inward slanted "orange segement" lights that filled the upper segment of the rear wings, instead of making it look like a Hillman Imp.

Nigel_O

1,557 posts

158 months

Monday 4th September 2017
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LuS1fer said:
Shame he ran out of ideas at the back end.
Imagine some inward slanted "orange segement" lights that filled the upper segment of the rear wings, instead of making it look like a Hillman Imp.
The Coupe rear-end design is a recognised classic style - do a Google search for "Kamm"

A couple of posts have mentioned the tuning potential of the Coupe and I promised Alisdair I would post up my experiences.

Clearly, any car can be tuned for more power, but anything with forced induction makes it a fair bit easier. The problem is that its spectacularly easy to wind the boost up on a Coupe to 375-300bhp, but without supporting modifications, the car is on borrowed time. Too many Coupes have been wound up to 1.5 bar and driven like it was stolen, with the owner then complaining of "the usually crappy Fiat reliability"

Let's look at the other end of the scale - I ran a very highly modified 20VT as a daily driver for several years until four years ago. It gave a dyno-proven 457 bhp and was doing 30,000 miles a year. The car had done 246,000 miles when the rust got the better of it and I bought another low-mileage Coupe and transferred all the modifications to the new shell. It has done another 60,000 miles since then, so what little there is left of the original car (crank, block, cams and a few ancillaries) has now done more than 300,000 miles. Power is now up to 488bhp. Yes, I know its a bit "Trigger's Broom", but it just shows they can last if looked after.

Its easy to modify it correctly - there's a wealth of knowledge on the Coupe forum - 250bhp can be had for £50. A reliable 300bhp can be yours for just £500. After that, the law of diminishing returns kicks in and to get 400bhp reliably will cost £3k+. 500bhp is another step - probably £10k. Anything above 300bhp is also begging for some chassis mods, as the stock suspension, as well as being 15+ years old, is more "GT" than "Gti". Despite FWD, it can be made to go round corners too. I had a few raised eyebrows at Bruntingthorpe a couple of years ago, when it hung onto "proper" sports cars on the twisties and then proceeded to stay with them down the straights too (think 997 GT3, first-gen Nissan GTR and C5 RS6)

The performance stats are pretty startling. Sure, any of the 4WD uber-hatches are going to leave me for dead on a standing start, but here's a 60mph to 130mph comparison to illustrate the point.

Audi TTRS = 10.7 seconds
My 18 year old Fiat Coupe - 8.9 seconds

Even from a standing start, the stats aren't too bad - the TTRS will beat me over a quarter mile (11.9 v 12.4), but I'll catch up at just over a kilometer by which time, the TTRS is doing 155 and I'm at 164. I'll still have another gear to go at this point. Basically, once rolling, they can be giant-killers, which for me is part of the appeal - I really enjoy pestering cars that cost 10 or 20 times what the Coupe owes me.

However, I'm still a realist - I'll happily concede that I'm still driving a "Tipo in a frock" and that eventually, the Coupe will break another component that wasn't designed for double the bhp. At least I'll still look good on the back of the AA truck.....

kambites

56,113 posts

160 months

Monday 4th September 2017
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george123 said:
Did you have TS or V6? As for being FWD, was it really that much of a problem for you 99.9% of the time ?
I haven't owned either, I test drove both before buying my Corrado.

The thing for me (and I suppose this is only for me) is that I'm only going to buy a four seater if I need four seats because for my tastes, a two-seater will almost always be superior in other ways, and if I need four seats the GTV is very unlikely to be a viable option. The Fiat (and the Corrado I ended dup buying) can actually carry adults in the back and you can fit full-sized suitcases in it. The GTV is barely more practical than my Elise (although I suppose you can use the rear seats as extended luggage space).

I appreciate the Busso but for me an engine alone is never enough to make a car good.

Edited by kambites on Monday 4th September 21:37

TdM-GTV

50 posts

156 months

Monday 4th September 2017
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I can guarantee you that you can get two women in the back... What more do you need in an Italian coupe?

andyps

7,764 posts

221 months

Monday 4th September 2017
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alisdairsuttie said:
Hi Andy. I remember your Coupe very well at Harewood a couple of years back. A 69.52 is pressing on!

Hope to see you out in 2018!
Thanks, I was pleased with the sub-70!

It should be out again next year, hopefully with a little more power to get back ahead of an R53 Mini Cooper S which has had a few upgrades!
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muppet42

264 posts

144 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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Great write up, glad I could contribute to it a bit smile

Honestly loved my 2 years with the Coupe and I'm glad it's still on the road somewhere, even if it failed and then passed its last MOT with what sounded like a bit of an expensive bill. I had the odd issue with it but it was my A to B and I drove it to every end of the country - it made a great GT.

No car I've ever owned has provoked the reactions that thing did. I mean, I've heard of folk getting that kind of reaction to their car and scoffed at it, but strangers would literally just come up to me and compliment the car or say they used to own one or wish they had. I even had some folk drive up next to me giving me the thumbs up and taking pictures, which was a bit random(!)

It wasn't a full-blown Turbo but it was a 20v and sounded glorious. Know 5-cylinder cars sometimes divide opinion but I adore the sound they make, despite all the numpties bombing about in Focus STs these days. Tunnels were to be savoured and multi-storey carparks a place to play with car alarms. Probably showing own numpty side there(!)

I kind of wish I'd kept it but I felt wrong using, what was becoming a rare car, every day through terrible roads and just about getting by in affording the necessary jobs being done. I felt it should be owned by someone who would use it as a second car and bring it back to what it'd been. Hopefully that's what the current owner is doing.

The Coupe will always get compared to the GTV, they were around the same time, in the same segment and covered many of the same bases. I've driven both and can confirm the Coupe is a practical 4-seater, the GTV will carry 4. For as long as they'll tolerate it. Better visibility in the Fiat too though some could argue that affected the exterio shape in a bad way, I personally prefer it to the Alfa, even the slashes. I still look AT GTV6s every now and again though...

Anyway, here's what mine looked like just before I sold it, the sometimes not liked Portofino Blue, which I still think is a great colour for it...

wormus

Original Poster:

10,076 posts

142 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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What's the easiest and most reliable method to extract power from a 20VT nowadays?

When I had mine back in '98, they'd only just come out and very little was known about them. I took it to a well known Vauxhall tuning company near Southampton, they cracked open the ECU and soldered in a new chip provided by Superchips. It was before the days of being able to reflash the EPROM and whilst it made more power, it ran very rich and started blowing blue smoke after a few thousand miles. Took it to L&M international who at the time speacialised in Lancias and they fitted a new, second hand engine. Next it went to Owen Developments for a piggyback Unichip which is essentially a programmable tuning box. They also commissioned a bespoke Pace chargecooler. It made just shy of 300hp which doesn't sound a lot but nobody knew about these cars or how to tune them. It never really ran right and the EML would come on under prolonged acceleration, I guess due to overboosting but nobody knew how to fix it.

I suspect a lot of learning took place developing mods using my car but it was a fun/expensive exercise. I guess it's a lot easier now.

richinlondon

93 posts

61 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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Loved my 99T 20v Turbo. Not without it's faults - could spin wheels in third on a damp road, buttons on dash fell back in to dashboard, when on a lift for new tyres (every 6k on the front) you couldn't shut the door as structure flexed, oh and the rear window washer points in to the wind making them unusable if driving more than 10mph........apart from that........it was absolutely fantastic. I'm interested in how age has treated them as I sold mine at 3 years old and it was definitely showing signs of wear even then.


Fastchas

1,498 posts

60 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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I'm smiling here reading the comparisons between the Coupe and the GTV.
I owned a 16vt back in 2002, my sister owning a GTV 2.0. Until you drive these cars back to back (which I did) then you can't really comment other than on aesthetics where the GTV might win over the Coupe.
Drive the Coupe then get into a GTV. You'll think something is broke on the GTV, it's so asthmatic.

jamies30

5,779 posts

168 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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Fastchas said:
Until you drive these cars back to back (which I did) then you can't really comment other than on aesthetics where the GTV might win over the Coupe.
...and the handling, with the GTV having slightly fancier rear suspension where the Coupe has usable seats.

You say "16vt" so it also sounds like you're comparing a 2.0 turbo Coupe with a 2.0 n/a GTV, which is slightly unfair - the non-turbo Coupe and the
2.0 GTV are more-or-less equally short of puff.

J4CKO

26,626 posts

139 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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wormus said:
What's the easiest and most reliable method to extract power from a 20VT nowadays?

When I had mine back in '98, they'd only just come out and very little was known about them. I took it to a well known Vauxhall tuning company near Southampton, they cracked open the ECU and soldered in a new chip provided by Superchips. It was before the days of being able to reflash the EPROM and whilst it made more power, it ran very rich and started blowing blue smoke after a few thousand miles. Took it to L&M international who at the time speacialised in Lancias and they fitted a new, second hand engine. Next it went to Owen Developments for a piggyback Unichip which is essentially a programmable tuning box. They also commissioned a bespoke Pace chargecooler. It made just shy of 300hp which doesn't sound a lot but nobody knew about these cars or how to tune them. It never really ran right and the EML would come on under prolonged acceleration, I guess due to overboosting but nobody knew how to fix it.

I suspect a lot of learning took place developing mods using my car but it was a fun/expensive exercise. I guess it's a lot easier now.
I had a 20VT and the chip just involved popping one out and another back in it place ?

To be honest, I would view the Coupe as a classic now and not be trying to tune them to death, pick a VAG 2.0 T of some variety to do that to instead, cheaper, more effective and doesnt risk taking another one of these off the road.

My mate son is so original but but being the 2.0 16 valve it is largely gutless, but it is in a timewarp condition, doubt you would find a better, more original one, wonder what its worth, he spent £1500 re-commissioning, it, 2 grand, which seems criminal compared to what some right old toss goes for, I harp on about Escorts but seeing rusty four doors going for 5 grand astounds me when there is decent stuff like this out there.




AW10

3,464 posts

188 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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I ran a 16V turbo in screaming yellow for 3 years as a company car; even used it to tow a Caterham. Fuel economy suffered badly while towing and a friend commented that I would probably have used less petrol had I driven both cars to my destination separately. But it was fun. Needed a new exhaust after about 32 months - typical Italian quality. Door cards split and engine leaked a bit of oil but it went well and looked good. Dealer service was poor - things like installing a new battery but not tightening the cables so flashing main beams caused the electrics to shut down.

Fastchas

1,498 posts

60 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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jamies30 said:
Fastchas said:
Until you drive these cars back to back (which I did) then you can't really comment other than on aesthetics where the GTV might win over the Coupe.
...and the handling, with the GTV having slightly fancier rear suspension where the Coupe has usable seats.

You say "16vt" so it also sounds like you're comparing a 2.0 turbo Coupe with a 2.0 n/a GTV, which is slightly unfair - the non-turbo Coupe and the
2.0 GTV are more-or-less equally short of puff.
Yes, I concede the point you made about the turbo but not the handling. Mine was the best handling car I've driven (not owned).

Nigel_O

1,557 posts

158 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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wormus said:
What's the easiest and most reliable method to extract power from a 20VT nowadays?
Depends how much you want, but mapping is the easy way to start extracting power. You can get 20 - 40bhp from a simple plug-n-play chip - takes minutes to fit and will transform the car (beware of fakes though - loads of dodgy chips on eBay - you need to search out 'TraumaX' on ebay or 'GrahamL' on the Fiat Coupe forum)

Live-mapping is next and involves a bespoke map for each car. Piggy-back ECUs are pointless now that people have sussed how to re-work the OE Motronic ECU. The first person to suss it properly was Leighton Wilson who owns FC Performance, working out of Bristol. Others have also dipped a toe and are generating some decent results. The only point I'd make here is that you should always err on the side of safety - too many Coupes have gone to the scrappy after the owner asked the mapper to "max it out, innit...."

After mapping, you're into hardware. To give you an idea, this is the list of engine-related mods on my car (there's another long list of chassis mods):-

Accralite 83mm high-CR Forged pistons
Cunningham forged con rods
Columbo & Bariani High-lift cams
Ported & Polished head, 3-angle inlet valve seats.
Garrett GTX3071R turbo inc billet comp wheel
3" downpipe
Downpipe heat wrapping
Longlife 3" exhaust
"Live" mapping
Siemens 630cc injectors
3.8 bar Fuel Pressure regulator
Walbro 255 fuel pump
ProAlloy induction pipe
Ramair air filter
ProAlloy front mount Intercooler
Helix organic clutch & coverplate
Forge DV006 dump valve
Custom MAF sensor housing
Blitz SBC-IDIII Boost controller
Vibra Techics 'fast-road' engine mounts
PowerFlex steady-bar bush
Fuel pump direct power feed

That lot has been a very gradual sequence of acquisitions over an extended period of time (which has helped keep the true cost away from SWMBO). If you wanted to do the same now, you're looking at £8k - £10k in parts alone, with labour on top.

I've admitted this to a few people, but I'll come clean with the PH community - I've over-done it.... I should have stopped at 375 bhp when I was on a smaller turbo, smaller injectors, a lightly uprated clutch and a standard gearbox. To add another 100bhp to this figure has compromised the car more than I thought it would. Cold start is a bit iffy. I get some light-throttle shunting, the clutch is heavy and I've destroyed two gearboxes and had to fit a Quaife diff to cope with the torque. In 90% of circumstances on public roads, a 375bhp Coupe is just as fast as a 480bhp Coupe. In 5% of circumstances, the lower-power Coupe will be quicker. However, the remaining 5% of circumstances, or on a trackday means that all the money and infuriation of ten years of development becomes worthwhile.

There's a comment above though - the most desirable Coupe is a standard one, so if you're thinking of getting into Coupe ownership with the view of preserving its value (or hoping for an increase in value), then you should keep it clean, keep it maintained, but keep it stock.

wal 45

451 posts

119 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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I ran a 20V VIS for over 8 years and did the best part of 60 000 miles in it, without a shadow of doubt it was my favourite car I've owned. First saw one at a London Motorshow when it first came out, wanted one ever since but bottled it when they were new due to the Fiat "reputation", my subsequent ownership experience proved that rep oh so wrong.

The car was utterly reliable, did 18K miles in it one year running up and down to the West Country weekly with another year leaving it parked up for 7 months while away with work. Never broke down or failed to start ever but just needed plenty of preventative maintenance, only job I didn't do myself was change the cambelt everything else was very straightforward. I never ever tired of the looks, both externally and internally Chris Bangle/Pininfarina got it so right with their respective designs.

I've driven quite a few different ones (all except a 16V NA) over the years, they all made me smile and they do make a very practical 4 seater GT car as mentioned numerous times above. Most of the major points have been covered by previous posters although I'd argue the typical Coupe owner isn't the guy driving the LE in the youtube clip, most are 40 plus and relatively sensible now!!

Back to back on a country road or around town I'd take an NA (especially a VIS) over a turbo every time, on a motorway the NA short gearing can get tedious though

If I was buying another one I'd probably go the 20VT route but only because NA specific parts (proper rads that don't need fettling etc etc) are getting very hard to source. The turbo has so much more available, don't think many parts are unobtanium yet....The versions do share an awful lot of parts but there are some showstoppers that mean second hand is the only way forward, some very good sources though in the FC community.

Genuinely I wish I'd kept it but at least it is in good hands, out of the blue I had the buyer message me last week (sold it nearly 18 months ago) saying how much he is still enjoying it but it started the regret all over again! I only sold mine to finance a 916 Spider resto project, did I do the right thing in not selling my 159 instead.......hmmm

ZX10R NIN

13,347 posts

64 months

Tuesday 5th September 2017
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I had a 220 it was great fun with a cracking sound from the exhaust.

s m

17,238 posts

142 months

Thursday 7th September 2017
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Modern Classics mag has done an article on these in the new one if there are any fans on here