There’s no mistaking the design of the Chris Bangle penned Fiat Coupe, looking like an original unfiltered sketch, it arrived on the market in 1995, livening up a bland era of car design. The rebellious styling was matched by its superb handling and feedback, a Pininfarina styled interior and a well-proven 139bhp twin-cam power plant from the Lancia Integrale. While it may have lived under the shadow of the brutal turbo models, the reality is that these normally aspirated cars made better all-rounders. Able to accommodate four with luggage, the Coupe was a surprisingly practical and well-considered option in a market full of 2+2 sports cars.
As one of the earliest surviving UK cars, having been registered during the launch month in June 1995, this car has only seen 4 owners over its 26-year history, with evidence that it has been carefully maintained. Splendidly standing out with its signature yellow paint, this example is remarkably solid and would be an ideal starting point for someone looking for a solid and well-presented example with the benefit of a recent service and a new MOT.
The owner is a reputable company specialising in high-end restorations and had passed this car via a customer, who had serviced the car with him in the past. He took it on, as finding early 16V examples in this condition are far and few between today. With just four previous owners and well below average miles for its age, the car is an ideal candidate to bring up to scratch. It spent its formative years in the North-West, then found its way down to a lady owner in Kent in 2008, who kept it for seven years. Judging by its MOT data she was frugal with its use and put into storage during the last few years of her ownership. It was bought by its fourth owner in 2015 who recommissioned it back onto the roads in 2019. The current keeper had subsequently serviced the car since then and has also resolved an existing ABS issue, as well as a handful of other minor issues.
Originally sold new in Merseyside in June 1995, the car stayed in the North-West for eight years with proof of service stamps up until 2003. It appears to have had brake work, tyres, a new exhaust over after this period, with likely bearing and bump stops replacements flagged up as advisories on the MOT. The car has been serviced two times by the current vendor since then and will be sold with a new MOT, vanity plate and additional service as part of the sale.
The optional leather seats show the expected signs of ageing of a car of its vintage, the driver's seat has a fair amount of scuffing but could be brought back up to a good standard thanks to the lack of tears. Both front seats retain their support, with the bolsters still quite firm. The rear seats have seen light use, so displays a small number of marks. All door cards are in good condition, with no issues noted.
The carpets are decent, they have generally worn the years well, with a small rip observed in the driver well. It comes with an original Fiat drivers mat. The headlining is rip free, with the usual signs of age.
The striking yellow dashboard detail is in good condition, with no obvious signs of damage, the plastic facia is tidy with no significant damage The centre console plastic is a little misaligned but in generally good condition with general signs of its age but all of the switches are legible and said to be functional. It has been fitted with a more recent CD/MP3 player. The main dials and controls are good, and function as expected with the exception of the oil pressure and oil temperature gauge. The owner has confirmed that it is the gauges, not the sensors, that are malfunctioning. The rest of the interior controls are said to be operational, which includes the electric window and central locking.
The million-dollar question. Corrosion. First off, the car is remarkably solid for a mid-’90’s Fiat but it's worth remembering the Coupe had been galvanised from new so it’s more durable than one might expect. The engine bay is in good health, the suspension turrets and front chassis rails front looking ok. The inner arches and sills are solid, with minor suggestions of surface blemishes on the sills returns. The floor pan and jacking points look decent, with light evidence of surface corrosion on the edges of the underside of the sill. The most noticeable external corrosion can be observed on the near-side door aperture, with bubbling noted under the plastic sill plate. The rear nearside chassis rail support above the exhaust may also warrant investigation before it becomes an issue but doesn't appear to be a significant defect. There is evidence that it has seen some welding to the off-side floor pan around the driver footwell in the past, but it appears to have been carried out to a good standard and rust-treated accordingly. Externally the arches are good, with no serious problems just a light coating of blemishes observed on the underside of the arches. The boor floor is solid, with no noted problems in the boot well. The cars drain holes seem to be good, which may well have contributed to this car's survival.
The car has a handful of tiny dents, mostly noted on the doors and bonnets, but are likely to be related to low impact car-park mishaps rather than physical damage. The panel fit is good, with a mostly even fit throughout. The near-side lower quarter panel below the Pininfarina badge has a little scrape and touch up. The side doors are in good solid condition, with the odd blemish and small dents but free from distracting damage. The boot lid is slightly misaligned when closed. The bonnet is solid throughout with the near-side front left front edge of the bonnet having seen a touch up in the past, suggesting evidence of repair.
The distinctive Giallo Ginestra (Broom Yellow) paint has decent coverage, with no immediate issues with its presentation. It has a healthy shine and is of a decent quality finish. It’s likely that the car has seen some new paint in recent years, but overall the lustre is good with no significant chips or scuffs. It captures the light and reflects well with no matting - perhaps a good machine polish would remove the light swirling. A little overspray is evident on the lower rear black trim but could easily clean up nicely.
The original wheels have been replaced by a set of decent conditioned Ford alloys probably in the mid-2000’s budging by the age of the Dunlop tyres. All have a legal tread. The bumpers are good, with no significant signs of misuse, no scuffs and cracks were observed. The glass is in good condition, no chips or cracks observed and free from laminate damage. The headlamp covers appear to be in relatively good health, with minor blemishes but are free from major fogging. All the other light lenses are in good condition. The black exterior trim is in good condition, with the chrome file cap still looking smart.
The engine starts up immediately with no hesitation and soon settles down to tick over nicely. There were no knocking noises coming from the engine itself, with the manifold and exhaust not emitting anything significant in terms of noise, although the rusty tailpipe (easily replaced) suggests condensation rather than anything serious as the exhaust and cat unit itself is solid. No smoke was observed during the start-up and warm-up, as the engine was left running to ensure that there was no evidence of temperature overheating. No patches of any fluid were observed on the ground. The physical condition of the engine is good, with no obvious signs of neglect, the ancillaries, hoses and ducting all appear to be in good condition.
The radiator unit is good, although the base of the mount displays corrosion. There were no obvious issues noted from the suspension, it is said to be free from any significant issues. The bearings did not seem to emit any unwanted noises and there were no immediate signs of damper leakage. The Brembo one-piece four-pot brakes appear to be robust, with evidence that the callipers have been recently replaced. The actual brakes do not squeal in operation. The gear change appears to be slick with no clunking and the clutch still bites as expected. With a reputation of delivering a precise talent for handling, with an addictive manner that asks the drive to push its grip, the Coupe still maintains a balance for composure and urge.
As a prognosis, the engine, structure, interior, and panel work of this Fiat are all in good shape, therefore it could be a great way to own a sturdy early 16V Coupe without having to spend substantial amounts of money on a total restoration. It’s no secret that the once under-rated Fiat Coupe is already on the up, with the market looking for the next big thing. As the first Fiat closed roof purpose-built Fiat sports cars in a generation, it was also never directly replaced so it stands out not just as a prime example of one the best ever Fiat sports cars, but potentially one of the best Coupes of the ‘90s. As a result, there is a sizable following for these cars, guided by plenty of advice and specialists. It encompasses everything an Italian car should be; stylish, distinctive, talented and one that keeps you on your toes.
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