B U Y E R S G U I D E
What to look for when purchasing a barchetta (new or used)
Used early cars exhibit dents in the trunk and bonnet. Some showroom
models too. This occures by pushing on the lid shut. Either press at the near
end of the lid, or slam it. A spoiler or luggagerack might help too.
Cars manufactured after December 1995 (#15000) should have this somewhat fixed, but
still be careful.
When closing the bonnet, let it fall for 40 cms, as it might pop open while
driving. There is a safety to prevent it from fully opening, but seeing and
hearing your bonnet clapping at 160 km/h is very scary indeed.
Just be careful, other parts are also easily dented (doors, fenders).
We have asked at Ilcas (the chassis factory) what they have done about this
problem. They said this: "The skin of regular cars is made of 0.7 mm
thick sheet metal. Usually this is sufficient, but not on the lid of the
barchetta. The thickness of this part has been increased to 0.8 mm, to
no avail. Now it's 0.9 mm thick, and there are no more problems anymore."
Stone chippings can create little black and white spots on the bonnet. But also
the doorhandles might suffer from missing paint near the grooves. Easy to fix
with colored paint sticks.
The paint used on the barchetta is an environmentally friendly one, unfortunately
it's not as strong as old lead paints used to be.
Weak radio reception
The Grundig made radio itself is a fine piece of electronics, but is hindered
by a poor aerial cable. This will confuse the RDS which will start scanning
for stronger stations and momentarily looses reception. Also crackling and
hissing can be heard.
Another radio can be installed. Fiat part number 46 228 873 can be used to
fill the gaps at both sides of the radio (11,60 DM excl. VAT). Japanese
barchetta's are equiped with a Sony radio.
Cars manufactured after June 1996 (#21700) should have a new aerial cable.
Tearing of the softtop
As reported by many, the softtop has a design flaw. The metal construction
cuts into the fabric of the softtop, when not folded properly! This can
become visible when the roof is closed: in the middle above the side windows
and in the lower rear corners above the tonneau cover. Above the windows the
softtop will be punctured, while in the rear corner it will show white
Cars manufactured after May 1996 (#20170) should have this fixed.
Talk to your dealer for a fix as Fiat is aware of this fact. Look at this page
how to prevent further tearing.
The rubber seals of the roof and the trunk have been given much grief to some.
Those of the trunk tear too easily. Roof rubbers are hard to replace, but
adjusting the windows might help.
In the Maggiora factory, hot-air blowers are used to make the rubbers fit. This
blower is also used to smoothen the plastic rear window.
Cars manufactured after May 1996 (#20200) have slightly stiffer trunk seal rubbers.
Also the rubber seal of the softtop has been modified to prevent black stripes
from appearing on the softtop-coverlid.
Another watery problem are the tail lights. Usually the two inner lamps will
get fogged up. Cars manufactured after June 1996 (#21700) have a new
housing to prevent water from entering.
The first hardtops weren't made out of metal, but of plastic (for another
supplier than the current one). Major problem is water running in from the
trunklid, when the car is on a slope pointing down. The best fitting hardtops
are those that came factory-installed with your car.
Minor problems, fixed at the first inspection
The wiper washing tank (will leak), rearbrake switch and seatbelt tensioner
will be replaced immediately as these can be hazardous to your safety.
Other-things to look for
- Seatbelt loops on the seats (fixed August 1995 - #10000)
- Check the seatbelts properly retracts (can be fixed, but the problem will
- Minor electrical faults (speedo not working, taco not working, etc).
- Check the power-windows: this is a mechanical problem: the electric motors
are okay, but the leverage will get stuck
- Front tires wearing out after only 20.000 km
- Exhaust pipe falling off after only 50.000 km or less
- Dieselsound. When the variable valve timing is
stuck, the engine will make diesel noises below 2000 rpm, which will not
disappear when the engine is warm. Going to your dealer and letting the
engine run idle will not exhibit this failure as there is not load when
The latest spare-part (# 60615644 -- see pictures) should
be better, fixing it for life.
- Left door Reflector and trunk handle: when the handle sticks out of the door,
the squared reflector might be smashed by it when closing the door. Later
cars have a round reflector that doesn't stick out as much.
- Dirty brake-lever. Look on this page for a D-I-Y
or mailorder solution.
It's been said that the barchetta engine of the first year of production
(until May 1996) is more powerful than declared by Fiat.
Their tests show a minimum of 135 bhp to a maximum of 140 bhp. The best cars
can reach 220 km/h. Moreover the cars produced in the first year are faster
in accelaration and top speed: the later models have 2 bhp less. Also the
gearbox ratio has been made longer, both to limit fuel consumption and noise.
Since June 1998 (chassis number 37640), the Step A engine is fitted,
which is claimed to be rated 135 bhp (again). This was done by tweaking the
electronics, in order to get lower emission levels and lower fuel consumption.
Peak torque of 121lb ft is now developed at 3800rpm, 500rpm lower, all making the
barchetta a bit more responsive and marginally quicker in the gears.
...yet 70% of all current owners would buy another barchetta 3% wouldn't
Some modification dates taken from 'Auto Motor & Sport'.
Mentioned chassisnumbers are based on a list of 40 numbers and
their production dates I have in my possession, but some chassisnumbers might
have been jumbled around a bit...
Send comments to me.