Sensible or stupid???? - teabelly
I have been offered a fiat coupe for under £900. It belongs to the garage where I take one of my cars. The previous owner spent lots on it and they will include fitting a new clutch and getting fit to use in this price. I know nothing about them. Need a cheaper to run everyday car so was thinking of replacing my skyline with this. I also have a lancia delta so I know about italian reliability!

Think the car is a P or R reg. It has aircon (which actually works!!!) and is a dark blue colour. What is the boot space like on them and are they as incredibly awful as everyone says???? How big is the boot? Needs to be big enough for general tat carrying and 4 large bags of shopping.

Can't think of any other car which is cheapish and which is actually fun to drive. Not that keen on fwd, would prefer rwd but cheap rwd fun isn't cheap! Wouldn't have a bmw and nissan 200sxs are too expensive.

If anyone else can think of something fun under a grand that won't cost the earth to look after then feel free! Looked at 2cvs but they're too pricey. Generally not keen on french cars. Would consider an alfa 75 if I could find one for under a grand that wasn't a nail.....
Sensible or stupid???? - Rattle
They are based on Tipo's floorpan so they are not that complicated and they can be reliable according to some sources. They are probably no worse than other slightly exotic cars and for £900 it could be a bit of fun. It all depends on how its been looked aftered, I think most are scraped due to accidents or people blowing the engines by pushing them too hard.

Its certainly not a sensible buy but it dosn't have to be a stupid one either.
Sensible or stupid???? - FocusDriver

But that's just me. I'm rather turned on by reliability so you can draw your own conclusions about my opinion.

Here's a pic of the boot space though.
(note strapline for website!)

Doesn't look too bad to be fair. For £900 I wouldn't buy it but if it's something different you're after and you've got fantastic breakdown cover, go for it. Don't get it because it has aircon though.
Sensible or stupid???? - Happy Blue!
For £900 and you can burn the cash if the car breaks down, then buy it. A great example of Bangle's design ethos before he hit BWMs with the ugly stick.

Edited by Espada III {P} on 10/02/2009 at 18:45

Sensible or stupid???? - Rattle
The danger is knowing when to stop, the radiator goes after three months, costs you £250, you think ok its worth it, then three weeks later the water pump goes, another £150 its knowing where to draw the line, and that is the big problem with cars like this.
Sensible or stupid???? - BazzaBear {P}
Depends. If it's a good example it'll put a smile on your face every time you drive it or look at it, and at £900 that's a tiny amount of money for a car which achieves that.

I got 2 years of trouble free and delightful motoring out of mine (including a 3000 mile cross Europe trip at speeds of up to and above 120mph without the slightest hiccup), before the chance to get an Alfa V6 tempted me away.

Sounds like you've got the support of a garage you trust. If the service history looks good too, I'd go for it. Oh - be aware though, if the cambelt is near due, you need to budget for the replacement, and it's not cheap, at least for the turbo versions, can't remember whether the same is true of the non-turbos.

Boot space is surprisingly good. Probably better than most hatchbacks, although not as well shaped, and the boot opening can be awkward for large items. Rear seats are the reason I was able to get one despite us having no back up car. They're excellent for a coupe of this size, and adults can happily withstand long journeys in the back of a Fiat Coupe.

Edited by BazzaBear {P} on 10/02/2009 at 22:37

Sensible or stupid???? - Lygonos
Cambelt service is a biggie.

Also, have a think of how many you see on the roads these days ?

Not too many ;-)
Sensible or stupid???? - BazzaBear {P}
Oh - if it's the 16v turbo, then I believe it will be the exact same engine as is in your 'Grale.

And the main reason you don't see many about is that not that many were sold, which in my book makes it even more attractive.
Who wants to be a member of the herd in a 3-series or Mundano?
Sensible or stupid???? - teabelly
Think the 16v coupe engine and grale variant are slightly different. Think it's mainly in the head. Block is the same I think. Have got support of good garage so will have to ask them whether I really want it as they'd say no if it was a bad one. Cambelt change is more expensive on the 5 cylinder ones. It can be done in situ though as there is a knack. Would have to investigate this further....

Pleased by the boot space as it looks ok. Better than in a golf or similar.

Friend says friend of his had continual 2k bills with his but that could be down to using a main dealer rather than a good independent.

Bought the skyline cos it had aircon and that's been great. Nothing wrong with my car purchasing logic ;-)
Sensible or stupid???? - BazzaBear {P}
Cambelt change is more expensive on the 5 cylinder ones.
It can be done in situ though as there is a knack. Would have to
investigate this further....

Indeed it can. Whether it's still expensive depends on what you view as expensive. Doing it in situ changes it from a £1000 job to a £400-£500 job I think.

As I said before, if it's a good one, I wouldn't hesitate.
Sensible or stupid???? - BazzaBear {P}
Incidentally, there's a good looking 75 for sale on Alfaowner at the mo, but it's a fair whack above your desired price.
Sensible or stupid???? - madux
A friend of mine had one and said never again. He spent over £5000 on it in just a couple of years.
Sensible or stupid???? - Jamesh266
A friend of mine has one and thinks it's brilliant. He's got the 20 valve turbo, and the performance is superb. Despite the fact it has a limited slip diff, it does suffer from torque steer when accelerating hard. Economy is OK - about 30mpg if you drive sensibly (which you won't - the car encourages "enthusiastic" driving.

Boot space is OK - the back seats don't fold, but the left hand side of the backrest drops down to reveal a "ski tunnel" for carrying um, skis and other ski shaped objects. You'll certainly get your four bags of shopping in the boot.

His car came with a main dealer service history up to 80k miles, and has been serviced by a specialist independent for the past 30k. The previous owner had spent nearly £10k on maintenance and upgrades over the past two years.

Your car is only £900. If my wife would let me, I'd buy it if you hadn't got there first. I cannot think of another car for that sort of money that is as good to drive.
Sensible or stupid???? - craig-pd130

We looked very seriously at one a while back when our kids were still young. We could get a full-size pram in the boot, it's about the same width and length as a Punto's which is very good for the class of car.

IIRC the cambelt service on a 20V turbo is an engine-out job, but then again a clutch replacement on a mark 1/2/3 Mondeo is a 6 / 7 hour job too involving removal of subframes etc etc .... £900 sounds like a very good offer.
Sensible or stupid???? - gmac
I had a '98 S reg 20v turbo bought at about 18 months with 14k on the clock, sold at almost five years with just under 100k on the clock.

Boot space as as been mentioned is very good for the type of car.

Bodywork is extremely prone to parking dents - no protection whatsoever.
Check doors and boot close without too much effort. If the boot does not stay closed then suspect rear end damage. My car was knocked, I was stationary and a builders van hit the rear at less than 10mph. the boot lid never closed properly after several attempts by different insurance appointed garages

The 5 cylinder turbo engine does like a drink of oil. 1 litre per 1000 miles is not unusual.
At 18k miles my car had new pistons and rings plus other bottom end bits and pieces. It was drinking a litre every 300 miles. After the rebuild it consumed a litre every 2 - 2.5k miles.

New clutch at 50k miles, new belt and water pump at 72k miles, front tyres every 15k miles and rears every 45k miles. That was pretty much it.

The cambelt can be changed on a five cylinder with the engine in place. I paid a FIAT dealer in Frankfurt 1069? for the full 72k service including belts, tensioners and water pump. I was being quoted £1595 + VAT just for the belt change from maindealers in the UK.

Fuel economy I never got any more than 32mpg and that was really trying, usually averaged 26mpg though on one particularly high speed run averaged 12.5mpg.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, failed its first MOT for worn track rod ends. The car uses Tipo 16v units designed for 148bhp in a 220bhp car.

Edited by gmac on 11/02/2009 at 11:30

Sensible or stupid???? - Tommy_Coop23
Hi, Having owned two of these little beauties and being a member of the fiat coupe club, i feel i am qualified to speak :). I would tread very carefully buying a coupe for under £900 as although cheap to initially buy it might need all the big jobs doing and if there is no mention of a cambelt change, steer clear. Both of my coupes have been the most reliable cars ive ever owned despite being 10 year old, rare, italian cars, they perform beautifullly, sound really nice and look stunning, nobody believes me when i tell them its a fiat coupe, they think its a maserati, ferrari or some kind of alfa romeo, its draws admiring glances all the time. They are really good fun to drive as well, and you'd have to spend a hell of a lot more to get better styling, kit, comfort, fun for the money, incredibly good value for money cars. The front seats are very spacious, the rear is quite good also, the boot is quite big and can easily swallow lots of shopping bags and luggage. The reason why my coupes have run so well is because i bought them at a higher price having had the big jobs done, full service history and well maintained. These cars are extremely reliable and well built as long as they are serviced at least once a year and just looked after properly, even the original glovebox light works on mine, everything works! The one at the garage could be ok but ask them if the cambelt has been changed as if this goes it will ruin the whole engine.
Sensible or stupid???? - Tommy_Coop23
Also forgot to add that despite being a 2.0 sporty car which is pretty quick, mine is cheap to run, just spend money on petrol and a service now and then
Sensible or stupid???? - peterb
Can you afford to scrap it if it goes badly wrong in the first 6 months?

If so - go ahead and enjoy. If that would be a financial disaster, buy a Primera or similar.
Sensible or stupid???? - Tommy_Coop23
If you havent owned/driven one you dont have the right to comment peterb, he wont need to scrap it, chances are it will be ok as his local garage arent going to sell him a dud one as he wil go straight round and have it out with them.
Sensible or stupid???? - FocusDriver
If you havent owned/driven one you dont have the right to comment peterb

Oh! Golly. Obviously I'm not qualified to comment because I don't own or run a forum, but if you could scan me your autograph, Mr Cooper, I'd be grateful ;)
Sensible or stupid???? - Tommy_Coop23
You drive a toyota yaris and a lexus is, two of the dullest, most boring cars on the planet, very reliable yes but goodness , how depressed id feel driving something as boring and common as muck as those cars. Regarding your reliability comments, i have had italian cars all of my life and apart from wear and tear items; tires, brakes etc i have had no problems at all as i keep my cars serviced and well maintained and thats the key to all car maintenance. I would rather drive an old alfasud that coughed and spluttered everyday than have to drive a dull as dishwater yaris/is (vomits), just the thought of waking up in the morning and seeing either of them on my drive is so depressing. Dull, japanese crud......

Edited by Webmaster on 14/02/2009 at 03:08

Sensible or stupid???? - madux
even the original glovebox light works on mine.

Blimey, Italian electrics that work!
That must be a deciding factor -I must have changed hundreds of glovebox lightbulbs over the years!
Sensible or stupid???? - Tommy_Coop23
You're missing the point,8< SNIP! insult removed Unless you own one or have owned one, you cannot comment but no, i imagine you own a bmw 3 series, mercedes c class, or some audi, predictable 'i follow the crowd, im afraid to be different' boring german crap which have had far more recalls and reliability faults than the fiat coupe. My 'glovebox light' comment, i meant that all the electrics work, every single thing works on the car even down to a small detail like the glovebox light, another snip 8<

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 12/02/2009 at 19:14

Sensible or stupid???? - Oilyman
I had one from brand new for three 3 years from 1997 - 2000.
I would agree that there is ample room for 4, the boot is a reasonable size - with a fairly narrow entrance.

I absolutely loved this car to drive - but mine was a PITA regarding the local dealer's attempts at repairs, fiat's ability to supply parts etc.

My bad experience was caused by a crap dealer NOT the car.

In the years since having this car I have found myself hankering after one and am convinced they will become (maybe already have?) a very desirable classic.

I think you should buy a decent example though - you'll only regret it for years to come.

How many older blokes had the chance to buy an E-type for small money years ago, didn't and are still regretting it years later?

Sensible or stupid???? - krs one
It's probably not going to be better or worse than any other £900 car out there. At least you will look cool whilst waiting for the RAC to arrive.

I genuinely think they are one of the best looking cars ever made ( the interior is as good as the exterior), and would love to own one one day.

I don't know if the coupes come with the infamous red key, if you don't have one it can cause major issues and they cost a fortune to replace.

Sensible or stupid???? - Tommy_Coop23
I agree, its a fantastic looking car, i love all the design details on it, i cant believe its a humble fiat at times, looks like something really exotic, take a look at this pic for example:

He wont have to wait for the rac as like i said its been incredibly reliable, as long as its bene looked after, you can buy cheap ones and they run fine, just make sure cambelt has been done.

The coupe comes with the red master key, its not as bad as people make it out to be but it basically contains the immobiliser codes (they are stored on it)
Sensible or stupid???? - Tommy_Coop23
Nobody in the know takes their coupe to the local dealers, they take it to an italian specialist or ideally motormech, in birmingham as they know the cars inside out plus they dont rip you off like fiat would. So if you're hankering after one m8, just take it to an italian specialist or your trusted garage never a fiat dealer. Parts are widely available now on ebay, through the fiat coupe forum and through online car shops, fairly reasonable too. They are a desirable future/soon-to-be classic car, espec the 20v turbo, if you buy one now in excellent condition and cherish it worth a lot more in the future as pininfarina designed the interior and alloys and has now sadly passed away plus theyre very rare cars.
Sensible or stupid???? - piggy
I aggree with Bazza and Tommy. These are lovely cars that stand out from the crowd.Possibly more than any ordinary car,they do respond to a mechanicaly aware driver prepared to keep an eye on fluid levels etc.
I owned one of these from new to seven years old,when I had to sell it because of having hip problems.They are quite low on the ground making egress difficult if you are getting on a bit like me.
Mine was totally reliable and resonably cheap to run. The insurance can be expensive,the normally aspirated being group 17 and the turbo version being group 20.
Agree about parking dints,the doors are paper thin and very long.
The timing belt needs doing every 40k or so. Mine was done by Motormech in Birmingham for a very reasonable £450. This chap is an Italian car specialist and very competent.
Go on-slide on the ice!! For £900 you can`t go wrong.
Sensible or stupid???? - mattbod
Lovely car: a future classic if the E.U don't get there way and scrap every car over 10 years old. However I heard that the engine has to come out on the five cylinder versions for the cam change. Is that correct?
Sensible or stupid???? - Tommy_Coop23
I think he should take the chance and buy it as his own local garage arent going to fleece him are they, they will lose a valid customer plus on ebay etc you can actually pick up an early ok cond coop for this amount, usually 16v na's. My 2 coupes have been super reliable and as long as its been looked after i see no reason why this one shouldnt be either as they very strong cars.
Sensible or stupid???? - captain chaos
I agree. I like Fiats and have had a couple over the years and found them to be good cars and underrated, unjustifiably IMHO. Just a pity the dealers are so poor. I'd go for it...the coupe is a lovely looking car and something different
Sensible or stupid???? - gmac
If it is a light green with Polizia written down the side it might need a new nearside rear alloy and wheel bearing.
It was used on tonights Top Gear with Clarkson at the wheel. :)
Sensible or stupid???? - guygamps
so did you get it? I am also keen on one, but thinking differently (maybe just as stupid or just as sensible). Whereas you were wondering what you would end up with if you buy a cheap one... I am wondering what I will end up with if buy an expensive one!

What i don't want to do is pay mid price and have the kind of problems I would expect to see on a cheap one, but then again how can I be sure that I am going to get reliability out of buying an expensive one, just cos it is expensive.!

How did you get on.

Sensible or stupid???? - teabelly
I didn't bother in the end and decided I'd be better off hanging onto the skyline as it would likely be more reliable than any coupe! Have only managed it due to the bank of Mum & Dad for which I'm ever grateful.

Think the one I was looking it is still kicking around but they'd only sell it to someone that was definitely interested as it needs a new clutch. The price isn't a reflection on the potential for trouble. It's mainly down to how the previous owners have looked after it and the level of service history. The guy that sold it to them had spent a fortune getting things done so I suspect it might have been an ok buy for one of those. Just didn't really want a front wheel drive car in the end.