FIAT UNO REVIEW

fiaThe Fiat Uno Turbo is potent, fun and ever so fragile...

Like many cars of its ilk, the Fiat Uno Turbo relied on forced induction to achieve its Golf GTI-rivalling performance, but the sophistication of its IHI turbo/Magnetti Marelli engine management installation set it apart from earlier rivals. Launched in 1985, it was also state-of-the-art in terms of its packaging – its Giugiaro-styled body had a drag co-efficient of 0.34, and its interior was the roomiest in its class. And thanks to big boost and 105bhp from 1.3 litres, it remains a great deal of fun to drive to this day. 


VITAL STATISTICS

1985 Fiat Uno Turbo ie

Engine                                    1301cc/4-cyl/SOHC

Power (bhp@rpm)                  105bhp@5750rpm

Torque (lb ft@rpm)                 108lb ft@3200rpm

Top speed                                122mph

0-60mph                                  8.3sec

Consumption                            30mpg

Gearbox                                    5-speed manual


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK & CHASSIS
 

Fiat has a horrendous reputation for corrosion, which is unjustified once we’re into the 1980s. Thanks to careful design engineering, the Uno is far less rust-prone than the car it replaced, the 127. That’s not to say it isn’t immune – rust can spring up anywhere underneath, so make sure you get it on a ramp for a close inspection. First port of call should be the floor seams – if these are lifting, the floor panels will need replacing. Also check the sills, lifting any plastic skirts for a good look. 

Next, check around the fuel tank mounts, boot floor and spare wheel well. A full seam inspection is needed from below – they could be well undersealed, so do take extra care, and look for distorted or splitting seams. Other weak areas are the rear turret top mounts. While underneath, poke around the front inner wings and Macpherson strut turrets and suspension arms, which are all common corrosion areas. And there’s also the engine subframe, which is an absolute pain to weld in situ.

The body is more resilient. The windscreen scuttle and surround is a known weak spot, and tough to repair without removing the windscreen, while the doors and tailgates can rot quickly, especially if their drain holes are blocked. Finally, the sunroof surround and mechanism are rot-prone and difficult to fix.

 

ENGINE

The Uno Turbo needs an understanding owner who likes to change the oil regularly, preferably every 3000 miles. Fiat SOHC engines are tough, but the turbo places strains, which regular doses of semi-synthetic go a long way to alleviating. Engine life is around 120,000 miles.

Turbos need a close look, so check for white smoke when cold and blue smoke when hot. Check the turbo boosts as it should without too much bearing and wastegate noise. Early cars with an IHI turbo are more costly to rebuild than later Garrett-equipped cars (£400 vs £300). Also check all oil pipes feeding the turbo, and that all breathers and vacuum pipes are in good order. The front-mounted intercooler is also vulnerable to damage. 

The fuelling system has been known to cause problems, especially with its injectors – and because of high under-bonnet heat levels, the fuel rail can corrode and become porous. The fuel pump needs to be in tip-top condition, and is located near the tank underneath the car – check it’s delivering as it should. Many owners have fitted secondary pumps.

Finally, ask when the cambelt was last changed, and how regularly it’s been done. These engines might be tough, but they demand OEM high-quality belts and need them changing every 30,000 miles.

fiat_uno_2.jpg

RUNNING GEAR

Owners love to lower their Uno Turbos. However, if you’re looking at a lowered car, make sure it’s by no more than 30mm and has good quality springs and – more importantly – dampers (by Pi or Spax) fitted. Suspension is by Macpherson struts all round and most issues affecting handling precision are down to old bushes. Luckily there are plenty of uprated items to choose from, although popular polypropylene items can lead to a harsh ride. Strut braces sharpen the handling and improve steering precision.


INTERIOR

The main problem with Fiat interiors of this period is cheap materials. This, combined with the potential of water ingress from a leaking sunroof, can spell trouble. The first thing to look for is a sagging roofliner – the material lifts from the backing and is a pain to repair. Also, the seat and door trim materials wear (especially on the earlier car) and replacements are hard to find.

The plastic used on the dashboard is brittle, so make sure it’s all together; it will be difficult to find small trim pieces. Finally, check that all switchgear is operating, and that all warning lights and instruments work as they should. Although the wiring is of acceptable quality, bad earths are a real issue and will cause all manner of random problems. Don’t necessarily conclude that a non-working electric window is a broken motor, or that an ineffectual fan blower is a big fix – they could be down to dirty and corroded earthing points.


OUR VERDICT

With a 0-60mph of less than seven seconds and a top speed of more than 120mph, Fiat Uno Turbos still feel fast today. But the kart-style steering and surprisingly capable suspension mean it’s not just the speed that captures your attention. Of course, there are some downsides – supply of cars and parts are far from plentiful, and you’ll need to keep it garaged and tend it regularly. However, Turbo values are still quite reasonable. Best advice is to buy with care and go for an unmodified or lightly upgraded car.

Recently Added

168 rallye monte carlo historique 2018jl 1 1024x683Sponsored Ad
1965
€44,000
Special 351
  • 6,213
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: DIY1107533
351 Windsor engine, 650 Holly carburettor, power steering, power brakes, hydraulic clutch and han...
6
00377680861941
View details
20160321 103816 001Sponsored Ad
1963
€132,000
Touring Spider 2600
  • 186
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: DIY1107535
Alfa Romeo 2600 Touring Spider in excellent condition with totally renovated engine and body. Eng...
13
00377680861941
View details
1Sponsored Ad
1987
£27,395
RS Turbo Series 2
  • 27,886
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1105708
* SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED * A Collectors Ford Escort RS Turbo Series 2 with One Ow...
20
01733 425140
View details
Dscf3060Sponsored Ad
1998
£Auction
Red Label
  • 72,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107564
1998 Bentley Arnage Red Label Registration Number: S378 JGP Chassis Number: SCBLB51E3XCH01693 Eng...
4
+44(0)1963 363353
View details
ChevSponsored Ad
1990
£1,900
  • 114,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: DIYCCW1020123
Air con-SS exhaust, mechanics excellent, all new belts, new brakes, faded paint (not rust). Pleas...
1
0117 9041411
View details
1Sponsored Ad
1967
£27,995
  • 60,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1090303
1967 DAIMLER 250 V8 SALOON - AUTOMATIC - RESTORED
20
0208 226 3052
View details
Placeholder cbe6c9521c21456cf9170dc847e3e1de3931371c967e81955c16862b992b5364Sponsored Ad
1934
£45,000
  • 184
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: DIY1107573
Has had a total restoration in recent years. Its in beautiful condition and it comes with a mohai...
0
01983752028
View details
Img 0227Sponsored Ad
2007
£7,700
VOGUE SE TDV8 AUTO
  • 155,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: DIY1107574
Fully serviced and all necessary repairs carried out. 2 new turbos fitted. MoT Feb 2019. Fantasti...
6
07891462351
View details
Chrylser no1Sponsored Ad
2012
£8,000
C CRD LIMITED
  • 88,398
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107572
2012 62 CHRYSLER 300C 3.0 CRD LIMITED 4d AUTO 236 BHP
3
01733 465212
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale