RE: Fiat Cinquecento Sporting Turbo: Spotted

RE: Fiat Cinquecento Sporting Turbo: Spotted

Sunday 28th January

Fiat Cinquecento Sporting Turbo: Spotted

Can a selection of, very tasteful, modifications make this fun-size Fiat worth its not-inconsiderable asking price?



If you were arriving at the heady age of 17 in the early 2000s, the idea of running a hot hatch as your first car was about as viable as finding a half-decent guitar band anywhere near the Top 10.

But if you absolutely had to have hot hatch looks and a drive that'd plaster a grin across your chops, there was one option you could turn to. And if you spent enough time scouring the data tables in the backs of car magazines, you'd happen upon it: the Fiat Cinquecento Sporting.

The hot Cinquecento was a great looking thing, all square-jawed aggro up front and cheeky buns at the back, and yet its Group 3 insurance put it within reach of many a new driver.


Of course, the reason for that cheap insurance was that, beneath the looks and despite the neat handling, the Cinquecento had all the power of an asthmatic bee, with a maximum power figure of - wait for it - 54hp.

This one, mind you, is slightly different. Just six years after it was registered, a former owner decided 54hp wasn't enough for him. Which is rather understandable, really. So he took this particular car to Van Aaken, who slapped a Garrett T15 turbo onto it, a conversion they carried out for more than a few Sporting owners.

The advert doesn't mention any power figures, but a quick browse around suggests the turbo kit was enough to double the power output. There is some question over the quality of the kit, mind you, with some commentators suggesting it didn't make for a particularly reliable conversion. Then again, when was buying a fast, small Italian car ever a reliability choice?


We'd have it just for the looks. The selling dealer has carried out quite a bit of renovation work, if the ad is to be believed, and mentions the phrase 'baby Integrale' just a little too often to be convincing. Nevertheless, you can see where they're going with it, especially with the addition of the dark grey Compomotive wheels and the big farty exhaust hanging out of the back bumper.

All this can be yours for just... oh, wait, it's six grand. Crikey. You know when people say 'That's a lot of car for the money'? Well, that, but, the opposite. Then again, as young Mr Bird commented, "people have spent considerably more on far worse things". And where are you going to find another that's been done so well?

We'll leave it to you to decide whether it's worth the cash, then. And meanwhile, we'll be off somewhere trying to find a stock Sporting to relive that perfect first car.


SPECIFICATION - FIAT CINQUECENTO SPORTING

Engine: 1,108cc, four cylinder
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 110
Torque (lb ft): N/A
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1996
Recorded mileage: 70,000 miles
Price new: £6,922 (+ turbo conversion)
Price now: £5,995

See the original advert here

 

 

Author
Discussion

JonChalk

Original Poster:

929 posts

42 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
No, no & no again.

So unbelievably unreliable - my OH had one back in the nineties & it spent more time in the hands of the fantastically sh*t FIAt dealers that it got traded for a Fiesta as soon as she possibly could afford to.

Age does not make a classic. This one needs consigning to the bin.

redhanded

6 posts

9 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
That looks like fun. And every time you survived a journey in it you could buy a lottery ticket. I had one in the 90's. NCAP were a little concerned I seem to remember. Whats the worse that could happen.

Edited by redhanded on Sunday 28th January 17:40

jet_noise

2,787 posts

114 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
I had mine done by VA.
Was a hoot for the 2 weeks it worked...
...in 2 years.

Looked great - yellow on 14" black RD wheels.
Twin DTM style centre exit cat back exhaust.

Blew a head gasket.
Hardly ever ran right and VA shrugged their shoulders after 2 attempts to get it working.
Put me off modified cars for years!

rallycross

9,039 posts

169 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
These are funny little things I had one about ten years ago and it was their ex demo car that had been owned by a barrister from nearly new and he had clocked up 80,000 miles in it then traded it in for a new Lotus ( he got less than a grand in p/x).

It had all the bits from new from Van Aken with Mini-light wheels centre exit exhaust uprated suspension fuel/airflow controller and most importantly that tiny little turbo - no lag.

It was fun being so small and quite quick upto about 70 mph, sadly it was nothing like as quick as the old uno turbo i.e. were. I think I sold it for about £1700 which seemed ok at the time. There is no way one of these is good enough to drive to justify spending £5k on one. Here is my old one ( we called it the Van Hallen!).


thewildblue

348 posts

105 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
I had a VA turbo back in 1997 to early 99. Was superb fun, put about 40k on it. Turbo went twice from what I recall. Was epic fun and dirt cheap to run with fuel and insurance. Mine would pull off the clock ( 120 at around 6k IRC) no problem all the way to the limiter in 5th. I remember having uprated front arb, abarth springs and drilled discs. Used to run on semi slick yokos and they gripped like poo to a blanket.
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J4CKO

24,766 posts

132 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Get an Up Gti, similar recipe and you wont end up with your legs at jaunty angles if you have a small accident.

sjg

5,765 posts

197 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
I had a black Cinquecento Sporting back in 98-01. Great little car.

This one is mental money and given how easily a 1242cc drops in, that would probably be a better start if you wanted power. If the asking price was halved I might have been quite tempted.

markcoznottz

4,505 posts

156 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Once did a 500 mile round trip in the standard 900cc car, all of 40 horse power. 80 mph was possible on a downhill section of deserted dual carriageway, but I think we melted the sidewalls off the tyres and the cooling fan running constantly for 30 minutes on arrival was a bad sign.

Hairymonster

298 posts

37 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
That yellow car looks, at first glance, as if it says 'w*nker' along the side of it!

mac96

1,124 posts

75 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
I seem to remember a contemporary review comparison with a (Rover) Mini Cooper, concluding that the Mini was better in all respects except hatchback practicality, in spite of being a 30 years older design.

So, the answer seems to be- buy a 90s mini cooper if you want fun and don't care about NCAP! smile

Gtom

652 posts

64 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
markcoznottz said:
Once did a 500 mile round trip in the standard 900cc car, all of 40 horse power. 80 mph was possible on a downhill section of deserted dual carriageway, but I think we melted the sidewalls off the tyres and the cooling fan running constantly for 30 minutes on arrival was a bad sign.
I did 5000 miles in a week in a 900cc cinquecento along with four other ones. Break downs were surprisingly low (alternator on mine and another one suffered from cooling system problems).

donkmeister

1,102 posts

32 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
J4CKO said:
Get an Up Gti, similar recipe and you wont end up with your legs at jaunty angles if you have a small accident.
You are of course correct about the crash worthiness, but...

2018 VW Up GTI - kerb weight 1070kg (Autocar figure)

1995 Fiat Cinquento Sporting - kerb weight 727kg (Carfolio figure)

They have similar power (although I bet the Up has a wider/flatter/yawnworthy power band), so the old Van Aaken chinky should accelerate noticeably faster in a straight line, and will change direction much more quickly (for better or worse).

I think it's a "yes" from me smile

ETA weirdly I capitalised "chinky" as this was a common nickname for a "new 500" back in the mid-late 90s but it's being auto-corrected to lowercase.

Syndrome280

93 posts

43 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
rallycross said:
These are funny little things I had one about ten years ago and it was their ex demo car that had been owned by a barrister from nearly new and he had clocked up 80,000 miles in it then traded it in for a new Lotus ( he got less than a grand in p/x).

It had all the bits from new from Van Aken with Mini-light wheels centre exit exhaust uprated suspension fuel/airflow controller and most importantly that tiny little turbo - no lag.

It was fun being so small and quite quick upto about 70 mph, sadly it was nothing like as quick as the old uno turbo i.e. were. I think I sold it for about £1700 which seemed ok at the time. There is no way one of these is good enough to drive to justify spending £5k on one. Here is my old one ( we called it the Van Hallen!).

Maybe it's because I'm a few drinks into my Sunday evening, but I genuinely thought it said "Van Taken" and was an unusual way of the owner advertising the theft of their other mode of transport.

Sean207

8 posts

69 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Syndrome280 said:
Maybe it's because I'm a few drinks into my Sunday evening, but I genuinely thought it said "Van Taken" and was an unusual way of the owner advertising the theft of their other mode of transport.
I don't post (at all) much but this made me spit out my Sunday gin and Tonic and I had to post to thank you!!!!

Yipper

5,964 posts

22 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Looks like Postman Pat's van, and it'll break down every 10 miles, but still a cool car. Imagine it is like a snail at low revs and then explodes in mid or high revs after the turbo spools up. As others have said, a great buy if they cut the price in half.

Escort Si-130

2,273 posts

112 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
I never was a fan of the Cinquecento , but I did like the Sporting version.

GCH

2,501 posts

134 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Hairymonster said:
That yellow car looks, at first glance, as if it says 'w*nker' along the side of it!
Was just about to post the same hehe

Could be worse...could be 'bus w*nker'

Murph7355

20,055 posts

188 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Escort Si-130 said:
I never was a fan of the Cinquecento , but I did like the Sporting version.
Ditto.

I occasionally hired one for brief periods and found it a hoot to drive (std car).

Blue Oval84

4,367 posts

93 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
I'll pass.

Not a very PH thing to say, but even for it's era, this car was a death trap-


The Seicento was astoundingly, no better. Hateful things.

InitialDave

3,517 posts

51 months

Monday 29th January
quotequote all
Seems like fun, but not six grand's worth of fun.