On December 3rd, our BOTW series will be two years old. Having gone back and looked at what we’ve featured over the last two years I’ve noticed that prices seem to be creeping up and it looks like we’re moving away from our USP; Bargains. Saying that though, prices do reflect the type of car we’re writing about. So for this week I’m going back to basics and something quite interesting has caught my eye.
Fifteen years ago I was working for Fiat UK and the somewhat desirable Coupé was something to behold (remember what else was out there at the time?). No, not the basic 16 valve version, but the cool 5-cylinder 20 valve. Fiat even made a CD featuring the entire range of engine and exhaust noises on a mock road test. This was a serious car for the Italian car maker and a huge step.
No other rival could match the Coupé’s stats except perhaps something in the £20K price bracket. Launched in 1993 Fiat managed to sell 72,000 of them, from the affordable 130bhp 2.0-litre, to the stonking 155mph, 20-valve 220bhp turbo. Its wedge like shape really made an impact (just like the flattened cardboard cup in the picture) and it wasn’t until its designer inflicted the same wonky lines on the BMW 5 and 7 series some years later that the controversial touch of Chris Bangle, suddenly became instantly recognisable.
Like the 2-seat Barchetta that followed, the Coupé put a solid foot down on the competition and for seven years Fiat basked in the glory. It was only in 1998 that things took a turn and numbers suddenly dropped. Why did Fiat ever think they could ask a ridiculously high price tag for the 1998 model year? This decision pushed the Coupé out of the market place and they eventually stopped production with the run-out turbo 20 valve in 2000.
Despite being front wheel drive, it handled well enough to get journalists loving its bespoke character and if you were brave enough to buy one, you were considered to be a proper petrol head, even though it was riddled with electronic faults and terrible engine troubles (believe me I’m just scratching the surface).
Even so, thanks to the Fiat Coupé, we now have cars like the Renault Mégane Cup 250, VW Scirocco R and Seat Leon Cupra R. All lend their engineering talents to powerful front wheel drive banzais. Over 200bhp may have sounded bonkers ten years ago, but, let’s not forget, Fiat were one of the first to do it.
We may have forgetten just how advanced Fiat were with the Coupé but just imagine what it could do for their image if they were to make a successor? Still, the Fiat Coupé will always be remembered for its ‘out-there’ wedgy-profile and modified Lancia Delta Integrale engine – no I didn’t know that either.
1997, 20V 2 Doors, Manual Coupé, Petrol, 84,000 miles, CREAM LEATHER, MOT-05-2011. ICONIC SPORTS CAR WITH LEATHER, AIRCON, CD AND ALLOYS.CAMBELT HAS BEEN CHANGED, ABS, Adjustable seats, Adjustable steering column/wheel, Alloy wheels, Anti theft system, Central locking, Colour coding – Body, Driver airbag, Electric mirrors, Electric windows, Fog lights, Head restraints, Heated screen, Leather seats, Lumbar support, Metallic paintwork, Passenger airbag, Power assisted steering, Radio, Remote locking, Sports seats, Tinted glass, Air conditioning, CD, Leather upholstery. Insurance Group: 19. £1,850