Shed of the Week | Fiat Panda 100HP

We had one of these Panda 100HPs almost exactly a year ago, a 2007 one in red from a dealer in Sheffield. Today's one is from t'other side o' t'Pennines, in Lankyshire. Odd that these hard-riding little rollerskates should be so popular Oop North, what with all the cobbled streets they've got up there. Driving a 100HP up there must play merry hell with your Farmers.

That could actually be the reason for sale in this case, as the vendor is flogging this 100HP to make way for another Panda. We don't know if the new one is a softer-riding model to ease his chuckle grapes (he could have softened up the 100HP's ride by bunging in a set of Fiat Coupe bumpstops) but we can at least deduce from his buying pattern that he's got nothing against Pandas.

And why should he? Anything that can take the pounding that this car's Fred Flintstone-hard chassis imposes on it must be pretty well screwed together. Ordinary Pandas are built for Italians who don't have enough money to buy the car they actually want, i.e. an Alfa Romeo at least and ideally a Ferrari. Because they don't have the money, they are angry, and they take out that anger on their car. Which therefore has to be able to take all kinds of abuse. It's all quite logical.

Shed is fully in favour of rustic proletarian transport like the Panda, and that affection ramps up to something not far short of love when you add a sporting tinge to what is an otherwise humble package, in this case a 100hp normally aspirated 1.4 rammed into the frontal zone of what has now become a 975kg buzzbomb.

These cars are fun, and a challenge. Conveniently for the vendor, an alternative motoring publication has just nominated the 100HP as the Most Fun Best Buy For Under Β£3k Car. You might receive a copy of the mag with the car, but don't try and read it while you're going along. Not without a magazine stand featuring some sort of highly advanced computer-controlled suspension anyway. Hit a bump mid-corner and your carefully modulated throttle position will be blown to hell. A less than brilliant driving position and slightly over-servoed brakes don't help to ensmoothen fast driving, but last year PHer DippedHeadlights came through with a nifty tip for 100HP owners. 'If your shoe size is more than 9 then spend a few minutes with a sharp knife carving away at the plastic to the left of the clutch pedal. Your foot will then fit on the footrest transforming the driving position.'Β 

At Β£975, last year's red 100HP was cheaper than this year's silver one. Shed can't remember the red car's mileage but he does recall that it had a fairly nasty case of lacquer pox on its bonnet and that its MOT history indicated an entirely appropriate life of up and at 'em driving.

Today's car is a few months older, but the paint looks OK and the mileage is sub-100k. Its MOT history indicates a sudden increase in problems between February 2016 and July 2017, when the car accumulated nearly 15,000 miles. Whoever was owning it in Feb 2017 didn't get around to renewing the ticket until five months after its expiry. The advisories when it was tested in July 2017 then mentioned the exhaust, front discs, ARB and an insecure bump stop.

Another year and 14,000 miles later, the fail and advisories lists had grown to include another wobbly bump stop, corroded front coil springs and dodgy wheel bearings all round - a common 100HP failing. The brake discs were still worn, too. This March, four months before it was due (preparation for a sale?) another test was taken and failed, this time on a seriously leaking front shock, a rusty brake pipe, rubbish wipers and a weak handbrake. Even after the work was done to get it past the retest, the nearside front tyre was still showing uneven wear.

Maybe the owner got fed up with pumping money into it, who knows, but what we can say is that even Pandas will fall to bits if they're hammered hard enough or insufficient attention is paid to basic maintenance. Despite all that, apart from a worn front seat bolster this game little Panda still presents well enough. The looks are a bit Marmite, but most seem to like the bluff chunkiness. The engines and gearboxes are strong. Faults in the electric power steering system can often be sorted simply by replacing the battery.

The bodywork is pretty resistant to rust, but the persistent mentions of corrosion on those MOT reports suggest that the rear beam and suspension cups might need a scrub-up and repaint. Given that 100HPs routinely fetch over Β£2000, five quid for some Hammerite, thirty quid on wheel alignment and another hundo for a couple of tyres doesn't seem that big an ask on top of the Β£1300 (or less) asking price. Parts are cheap, and so is the insurance: one PHer commenting on last year's 100HP dug up a premium that was lower than the one he got for a 1.25 Fiesta Style.

The boot is just about big enough for a large cod and chips, but even if you only use it as a station car then it should be tutto va bene, as they possibly say down Napoli way. Invest in a rubber ring first, obviously.

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Comments (92) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Billy_Whizzzz 21 Jun 2019


  • Cambs_Stuart 21 Jun 2019

    Nice little shed. Fun to drive and practical.

  • Redline88 21 Jun 2019

    Haven’t driven one but most people seem to give them a pretty good review. I always imagined them to be a bit like a lower powered Suzuki swift sport?

    Anyway, cracking car for the price although this particular one does appear to be a bit riddled with problems from the article.

  • mrpenks 21 Jun 2019

    I really want one of these but have no use for it at all. Reminds me of my old Seicento Sporting which was crap and brilliant all at the same time.

  • HeMightBeBanned 21 Jun 2019

    Are there suspension options available to improve the ride quality?

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