Fiat Barchetta: Spotted

Being part of a crowd is all very well but it's far better to stick out from one. However much we admire the Mazda MX-5 - and we do, all God's children do - there's no denying there are rather a lot of them. This was for most people all the encouragement they needed to go out and buy a Fiat Barchetta instead, the tiny two-seat convertible that not only powered its front wheels rather than its rear but also had the temerity to appear in the UK only in left-hand drive form.

Worse, everyone knows it to be a Punto underneath, and it seems no greater sin can be committed against sports car purists than to base a car on a small family hatchback of uncertain dynamic manners and lowly fiscal worth.

In fact the Punto was rather good in its day, its very earliest days maybe, as those old enough to remember will testify. Not as good as the Uno was before it, but good nonetheless. It was attractively styled, its engines had the usual hint of bravura, and its suspension and road behaviour were at least as sophisticated as its contemporaries.

If it was cheap it was also fairly cheerful, and as a basis for a diminutive drop-top it represented a good place to start. The real pain in the bottom with the Barchetta is not its origins but its left-hookerdom. You might be able to park and step straight out onto the pavement, but driving a left-hand drive car over here can still be an occasional pain, as can finding the right gear with your wrong (that is, your right) hand.

If it lacked the chassis fluidity of the MX-5, the MR2 and others, the Barchetta made up for it in brio. To punt(o) down a winding road on a summer's day with the wind in your hair and the sun on the back of your neck is a rare pleasure. As well as that its alloy door handles are a work of art, and as for those rear lights...

This one, from our classifieds, has the virtue of 12 months' worth of MOT and a reasonable price tag of just £2,500, and looks like a clean and well-kept example. Its black wheels and black leather are equally attractive, and with spring soon peeking its welcome head around the gatepost at the end of the driveway, this might be a good time to invest in a little capriccio Italian.


Engine: 1,747cc, 4-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 130@6,300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 121@4,300rpm
MPG: 33.6
CO2: N/A
First registered: 2001
Recorded mileage: 168,000kms
Price new: N/A
Price now: £2,500

See the full ad here.

Mark Pearson






P.H. O'meter

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Comments (58) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Revjunkie 10 Feb 2018

    Always like them and if they had made them correct hand drive for this country I'm sure they would have sold boat loads of them. Not exactly sure why they didn't if they were based on the Punto as it should have been easy enough.

  • Buff Mchugelarge 10 Feb 2018

    Ivabarchetta in 3 2 1...

  • soad 10 Feb 2018

    Buff Mchugelarge said:
    Ivabarchetta in 3 2 1...
    Changed username. wink

  • Mighty Flex 10 Feb 2018

    Nice cars, though finding a good value solid one is not easy when compared to MR2s and MX5s. There seem to be mainly high priced cars that have been for sale for ages.
    Compared to my similar vintage NA MX5, my father's 95 Barchetta is a more modern, more sophisticated car with a much better engine. I'm not sure which i would choose presented one of each in similar condition though...
    This one looks like its been well looked after but has lived outside and is beginning to need a little TLC as a 17 year old car.

  • Barchettaman 10 Feb 2018

    Mine was an early one, drove beautifully and was the most reliable car we've ever owned.

    Only the arrival of babies forced its sale. I enjoyed my time in it and wouldn't mind another one, although if we as a family were seriously in the market for a cabrio it would have to be a 4-seater....

    Anyway, I digress. The Barchetta is a hand-built Italian roadster with a cracking little VVT engine, for absolute peanuts. They sold boat loads of them here in Germany (pun intended) and there are still loads about.

    Edited by Barchettaman on Saturday 10th February 13:18

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