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