Every Monday we’re serving you up a delicious slice of pure postulation. That’s right, once a week we’re using our expertise and passion for the subject to predict what motors are destined for classic car stardom. This week, Parkers finance editor and former Classic Car Weekly news editor, Murray Scullion proposes the Fiat Coupe.
This week, Parkers finance editor and former Classic Car Weekly news editor, Murray Scullion proposes the Fiat Coupe. Italy’s answer to the Vauxhall Calibra. That might sound like we’re damning with Fiat Coupe with faint praise - but we’re really not. The Fiat is a startlingly pretty car that’s been wowing drivers since its inception in 1993. And now prices are beginning to (slowly) settle, and even increase, it’s about time it was taken seriously as a classic car.
Fiat Coupe: History
A wedge-shaped, five-cylinder, turbo, Italian coupe for a little more than £5000? What’s the catch? Well there isn’t one really. But there’s no escaping that pretty coupe has humble beginnings. You see, back in the 1980s, Fiat wanted to go back into making stylish coupes that had earned it a reputation as a desirable brand.
But, there wasn’t the budget for a bespoke chassis. So this coupe needed to be based on the Fiat Stilo. Luckily, the American style-icon Chris Bangle (noted for his 2000s BMWs) penned an achingly pretty coupe with a distinctive wedge profile.
The Coupe was revealed in 1993, but took until 1995 for the car to arrive on UK shores. By 1996 Fiat had upped its game by offering a five-cylinder 2.0-litre engine, available with, and without turbocharging. The turbo’d version became legendary thanks to a 6.4 second 0-60mph time and 220bhp.
By 1998 sales were beginning to flag, so Fiat released a low-volume model, the Limited Edition (often abbreviated to just LE). New wheels, red brembo brake calipers, Recaro seats, a push-button start, and a very 1990s bodykit completed the look. Production officially stopped at Pininfarina’s factory in Turin in 2000.
Fiat Coupe: Rarity
A car being hand-made by a small Italian design house is usually shorthand for ‘rarer than a trustworthy politician’ but Pininfarina managed to churn out around 70,000-72,000 (depending which sources you read) Coupes during the car’s lifetime. Peak production was in 1997 – with Pininfarina pumping out nearly 12,500. Earlier cars are rarer, while 2000 models look like the rarest UK-registered cars you’ll find.
Official UK import figures are hard to come by. But according to howmanyleft.co.uk the highest number of cars licensed and on UK roads was 7196 in 2000. As of 2020, only 697 cars are registered on the road in the UK. 477 of those are the highly desirable 20V Turbo cars - but there are only 20 of the Limited Edition 20V Turbos registered.
Why should you care?
In short; the Coupe is a (depending on model) five-cylinder turbo’d Italian Coupe built in smallish volumes at a price that would also afford you a seven-year old Vauxhall Astra diesel. The lines were penned by Chris Bangle, but Pininfarina did the interior, and built it. How’s that for a dream team? It’s a looker too. That svelte profile and angular rear end are pure Italian brio and are ripening by the day.
Those 220bhp five-cylinder cars are obviously a bit looney. But all Coupes are actually tuned towards wafting rather than just flat out crushing. The chassis remains mostly unruffled, even on potholed UK b-roads. The Coupe is an easy thing to drive, even by modern car standards. So compared to Italian coupes from 20 years previously, the Coupe is hugely usable. You could easily use one as a daily.
The CCfS Classic Car Prediction
Expect classic car enthusiasts to sit up and take note of these pretty Coupes soon - very soon. Turbo cars will be accepted into the wider classic car world before you can say whoosh but those earlier, non turbo’d cars will probably take a little longer.
In terms of events - grassroots classic enthusiasts may take a while to warm to the Fiat, while chino-wearing champagne quaffers will take even longer. But the wider community should take around 2-3 years to start fully appreciating the little coupe. Event’s like Brooklands’ excellent Auto Italia accept any Italian vehicles. While there are multiple Fiat Coupe owners clubs in the UK too.