Last week's Panda 1000HP - ah sorry, that should be 100HP, how amazing would that be though? - prompted some posters to reminisce about their Cinquecento Sporting experiences. We haven't got one of them this week, but we do have a Seicento Sporting, which is one hundred Sportings better than the Cinq.
Not really. The regular Seicento didn't exactly set the world alight when it was unveiled to stifled yawns in 1997. Unlike its predecessors, whose appeal was directly linked to their terribleness, the Sei rashly attempted to be less than terrible by having a proper four cylinder engine and plastic coverings for some of its interior panels.
As a result it became just one more city car among many, albeit with the unique selling point of a fantastically unprotective bodyshell that earned it a 1.5 star rating from EuroNCAP, ranking its crash protection somewhere between damp cardboard and a freshly-emptied crisp packet. In Fiat's defence it should be noted that EuroNCAP tests didn't start until 1997, so the Seicento wasn't designed with safety in mind. Some would have been nice though.
The Sporting version got your adrenalin going in a less fear-related way by packing the mighty 54hp 1.1 litre FIRE (Fully Integrated Robotised Engine) from launch in place of the ancient 39hp overhead valve 899cc lump that the basic cars were saddled with. Although the 1.1 only had eight valves, at least they were arranged in a more modern non-overhead type way, and the FIRE did go on to prove itself as a willing and sturdy servant for them as had to motor on a level just above skint. Yes, it could blow its head gasket, but then we've all done that at some point.
From new you could option a Sporting with ABS, air con and power steering, but anyone with the money to pay for those add-ons would most likely be fishing in a different manufacturer's pool. The Schumacher tribute car did have ABS as standard, as well as the Abarth bodykit bits, stripery and general stickerishness that you can see for yourself. You've also got a sunroof in which to trap the flowing locks of that Latin Lover wig you like to wear on stag nights.
The unfitted poly bushes that come with this car can probably be kept in their box for a little while longer as these 735kg Sportings (see 'crisp packet' above) didn't put a lot of stress on their suspension, which featured shorter springs and firmer damping. That, plus the short-ratio gearbox and sporty zorst, allowed the driver to feel like they were travelling nearly as quickly as the bloke who'd autographed the bonnet, even if in reality it was taking them 13.8sec to do the 0-60mph and they wouldn't be hitting 90mph on the level. Here's the real MS doing his bit for the Fiat marketing machine back in the day.
Last week we noted the oddly unfinished look of the Panda 100HP's bulkhead. The forum confirmed Shed's guess that they were all like that sir. The bulkhead on this Sei looks like somebody's been resting a sack of coal on it, but that's the only grubby note in what is otherwise a nicely presented little skate. They do rust in the suspension and rear subframe, and sure enough this car has had its fair share of advisories for (so far) non-structural brownage. A small oil leak was noted at the September test too.
You could buy this Fiat for cheap larks, or to celebrate the only F1 driver to achieve seven world championship titles. Both would be good reasons. Or you might just like the Integrale-style Cromodora wheels. These look great but they also lift the price of this car to what may be an unsustainable level given that more money will have to be spent on getting the unseen parts of the car up to the standard of the parts you can see. Still, we reckon Michael would approve. GWS.
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